For the past year, the Fraunhofer Digital Cinema Alliance has been researching new, cheaper technology and workflow solutions for 3D film making. In a recent press release, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) announced some of the newest innovations from the Spatial-AV project. There’s a new, miniaturized 360-degree ultra-high definition panoramic video camera rig, a prototype microphone management solution for spatial audio recording, and – most interesting to us – a “Light-field Media Production System” that is touted as being “the most innovative lightfield camera recording system to date”.
Let’s have a closer look at Fraunhofer’s setup:
Not too long ago, Pelican Imaging announced their own solution to bring light field technology to mobile devices. In the Lytro Light Field Camera and similar setups, the optical elements take up too much space for integration in smartphones (or other small devices). Pelican chose a different path, using an array of 16 tiny cameras and creating a camera module that is only 3 mm thick (i.e. 50 % of today’s high-end smartphone camera modules), costs 20 $ in production, and creates pictures at 8 Megapixel effective resolution.
At this week’s Qualcomm Uplinq conference in San Diego CA, Pelican showed off their camera and software features on an Android tablet. Continue reading
Today’s light field processing algorithms have mostly been tailored for relatively low image resolutions in the range of a few megapixels. That means, even with increasing sensor resolutions, light field technology will still be effectively limited by resolution. The analysis of light fields at high spatio-angular resolution, so-called “gigaray light fields“, remains a technological challenge due to the sheer computing power it requires.
Researchers at Disney Research in Zürich, Switzerland, have come up with a new, faster way of processing such light fields. Their secret: ignore some of today’s established practices in image-based reconstruction, and try something different.
At this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, currently taking place in Anaheim CA, tech blog Engadget spotted an unusual participant in the “Emerging Technologies” section. Douglas Lanman and David Luebke from the research labs at graphics processing specialist Nvidia presented what may be considered a prototype of the future of Virtual Reality: a near-eye light field display.
But what does it do?
Microlens arrays, which are mounted just in front of the high resolution displays, are used to convert pixels to individual light rays, thus creating a light field directly in front of the eye. The viewer is thus able to refocus at multiple depths into the scene.
Pelican Imaging is working hard on releasing “a smart camera for your Smartphone”. Their first generation 4×4 camera array is reportedly 50 % thinner than current smartphone camera modules. It captures the Light Field not by use of a microlens array, but using – in this case – 16 individual fixed focus cameras.
But hardware is only one part of the technology. It’s strengh lies in the power of post-processing and sophisticated computation.
In a new demo released today, Pelican Imaging demonstrates 3D video recording at 1080p and 30 fps, as well as two application examples: distance measurement within the picture, and 3D printing of recorded scenes. Continue reading