Facebook just introduced a second-generation Surround 360.
The social network is kicking off the second day of its (mostly) annual F8 developer conference, and buried in a flurry of updates and sessions there was an announcement that the Surround 360, which Facebook unveiled last year as an open-source VR camera for others, has a successor. Actually, it has two successors: a larger version called x24 and a smaller, more portable version called x6.
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The x24 has a 24-camera array laid out in an orb, rather than the original 17 cameras arranged in a saucer-shape, while the x6 has six cameras. Last year, Facebook released design schematics for the Surround 360, but now, it's partnering with hardware manufactures to bring the products to market later this year. Facebook said that it won't sell the cameras directly, according to The Verge.
Although it didn't confirm whether they'd still sport the Facebook-brand, the finished products will be entirely based off Facebook's design and spec guides. The x24 and x6 can capture in 8K with six degrees of freedom (6DOF), which will allow you to move your body all around as long as you're wearing a VR headset with positional tracking. The Oculus Rift, for instance, would work.
Your average consumer probably won't buy these basketball-ball shaped 360-degree video cameras, however. They're professional-grade cameras for high-end image makers and cinematographers. They capture rich depth information and use software that better understands light data and the depth of objects, but footage can still play back in Facebook’s News Feed as standard 360 video.
They can even play back in Gear VR as stereoscopic 3D-360. Keep in mind that with each step down, viewers will lose head and body tracking, etc. Nevertheless, Facebook said these cameras should have big impacts on the 360-degree format, giving developers the ability to create more engaging videos, including ones that will let you move around inside live-action scenes.
The cameras will even let video-makers edit live-action captures with CGI imagery. And finally, Facebook confirmed that the x24 and x6, which don't yet have firm pricing or release dates, won't replace the original Surround 360, which is now called Surround 360 Open Edition.