Choose Your Favourite Camera Angle With OmniCam360

OmniCam 360 provides a full 360-degree of the action

While watching soccer or cricket, viewers wish they could have a different view of the pitch than the one shown on TV. They just want to examine their favourite star while hitting the ball from the angle they wish but it's not possible. This prospect is set to become a reality, with viewers becoming their “own cameraman”: using their PC, tablet computer, or even the latest TV sets, they will be able to choose the angle they wish to view on their virtual cameras – live and in real time! They will also be able to turn around in a virtual circle and take in a panoramic view of the pitch and the stands. All thanks to a new panorama camera that is small, robust, and easy to operate. Comprising ten individual cameras, the OmniCam 360 provides a full 360-degree of the action.

The team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, in Berlin designed the OmniCam360 with the cameras packed into a cylindrical base with their lenses facing up. A multifaceted mirror that angles out from a central point above the cameras is then used to reflect the surrounding view into the lenses.

The camera weighs a mere 15 kg (33 lb)  meaning it can be carried by a single person and mounted on a tripod. Compare that to its predecessor, which occupied around 1.5 sq m (16 sq ft) of space and tipped the scales at 80 kg (176 lb), the new camera is significantly smaller too. The new version is around the same size as a ordinary television camera.

OmniCam360 only weighs 15 kg (33 lb) so it can be carried by a single person

To ensure a seamless panoramic view, the researchers made sure that images from neighboring cameras overlapped by a few pixels so that the software could merge them without any seams. Unlike a gap at the seams, the researchers say the slight shift in perspective that results from the pixel overlap is unnoticeable to the eye.

With the mini OmniCam, it's not necessary to match different cameras to each other before panorama recording could begin. “By means of optimized design, we’ve managed to do away with time-consuming calibration – and we’ve dramatically reduced the size,” says Christian Wei├čig, project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, HHI in Berlin. “This also allowed us to make the OmniCam a fraction of the weight of its predecessor model”, he added.

The usefulness of the panorama camera is by no means limited to sporting events. The researchers have also recorded concerts with it, with three cameras placed on the stage and three in the audience. In future, music fans will be able to enjoy such concert recordings “from all angles” via a special app. In a current project, the researchers are planning to transmit a concert by the Berlin Philharmonic live all the way from Berlin to Japan. The 360-degree system can be seen from September 13 to 17 at the IBC trade fair in Amsterdam.
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Write by: RC - Friday, August 9, 2013

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