Today Nokia is beginning to lay out its vision. At an event for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles tonight, Nokia is announcing Ozo, a next-Gen camera for capturing audio and video in 360 degrees. A formal launch, along with a final sale price, is planned for the fall. But Ozo is not a consumer camera the device is expected to sell in the mid-five figures.
On the software front, the Ozo enables love monitoring of captured footage through a VR headset. That’s a huge positive over existing VR camera solutions. It is possible as well to rapidly assemble playback footage albeit in a low resolution without needing to stitch together a panoramic image a process that typically takes hours. The Ozo is not intended as a commercial product so much as it is a tool for professional film makers, or “professional content creators” to use Nokia’s parlance.
What users might find advantageous is its capability to show them what it’s shooting in real time through a VR (virtual reality) headset. It can also churn out a low-res version of the footage it shot within just a few minutes if filmmakers want to see it again or to show it to someone else. Nokia says Ozo is the most advanced VR film-making platform yet. It certainly looks amazing a spherical rig the size of a large cantaloupe, roughly 6 pounds, with eight optical image sensors spaced roughly an eye width apart.
The company said it planned to focus on maps, network infrastructure, and ‘advanced technologies’ but what those technologies would be went unsaid. Audio is captured in three dimensions by eight microphones embedded in the camera, and the result is audio that helps to locate you in space. If you hear a dog barking behind you on in Ozo-produced VR, look behind you you will see the dog. The demos took place on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, and the footage sometimes appeared muddy and out of focus.
Nokia says that in part, this is because the clips we saw were being rendered live from the raw data recorded by the camera, as opposed to film that had been digitally stitched together and smoothed out in post-production. For Hollywood types, Ozo has a number of selling points. It’s a camera that lets them make VR in real time, thanks to a pair of key features. The first is live monitoring: directors can view footage as it’s being shot on a headset. The second is rapid playback. In the past, VR footage needed to be digitally stitched together before it could be viewed, a process that could take hours.
Nokia says, “Ozo can render lower-resolution video for playback in as little as a few minutes.”