A new range of multimedia cameras have been developed that offer us a new way to watch live events.
The devices were developed by Flemish professor Philippe Bekaert from Hasselt University as part of the 20203D Media European research project.
“We want to create a new visual medium,” he says.
“Using 360 video cameras and displaying it in several ways it becomes possible for a spectator to look around and to explore what is being shown.”
Among the team’s innovations is a circular camera system that can offer live streaming 360 degree video.
It can be watched in a clickable online window or on a large curved screen.
All the components are commercial products, with the aim of producing a system that is affordable for TV production companies, marketing departments and other video content creators.
As Bekaert underlines, the clever part is inside: “So what we have here is a pure software solution, that allows to do it on any regular computer that has at least a bit of graphics processing power.”
The 20203D project also developed a new way of recording team sports.
It involves a camera with 16 lenses that can show an entire football pitch in one live HD image.
That means that none of the action is ever missed, and replays are rich in detail.
Tom Mertens is CEO of a start-up called Camargus that is commercialising the camera. The image the camera captures is quite special: “What you notice is that it is a seamless whole, so all the different images are put right next to each other.”
“Now this takes a lot of computation, but the nice thing is that all these computations can happen in real time, so you can apply this to live pictures,” he says.
Stitching together 16 images into one live HD video is a challenge, as Tom explains: “What we need to figure out is how each lens is oriented with respect to each other, and then we need to make sure that the alignment between the different lenses are very accurately estimated and computed, otherwise you’ll see some breaks in the lines for instance or mismatches between the different players.”
Bekaert has already begun to test his 360 degree camera in real TV production, with very positive results. “The developments that we have done here, in the context of the 20203D Media project are a first step towards bridging the gap between computer graphics and video,” he says. “It’s not replacing television, it’s rather complementing television.”“