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Facebook Surround 360

Facebook Surround 360 is  a high-quality, production-ready 3D-360 hardware and software video capture system. The system has all its Point Grey manufactured cameras in perfect sync and with global shutter, so no 'rolling shutter' artifacts anymore! Of course, the computer requirements are demanding, with a 17 GB/s sustained transfer rate explaining why  an 8-way level-5 RAID SSD disk system is used.

FB360 640px

Open Source but Fast

The system includes a design for camera hardware and the accompanying stitching code, and Facebook will make both available on GitHub this summer. They're open-sourcing the camera and the software to accelerate the growth of the 3D-360 ecosystem — developers can leverage the designs and code, and content creators can use the camera in their productions.

The stitching code drastically reduces post-production time. What is usually done by hand can now be done by algorithm, taking the stitching time from weeks to overnight.

Stereoscopic 4K 360°

The Facebook Surround 360 code uses optical flow to compute left-right eye stereo disparity. FB leverage this ability to generate seamless stereoscopic 360 panoramas, with little to no hand intervention.  The system exports 4K, 6K, and 8K video for each eye. The 8K videos double industry standard output and can be played on Gear VR with Facebook's custom Dynamic Streaming technology.

Many of the technical challenges for 3D video stem from shooting the footage in stereoscopic 360. Monoscopic 360, using two or more cameras to capture the whole 360 scene, is pretty mainstream, but the resultant images allow you to look around the whole scene but are rather flat, much like a still photo.

However, things get much more complicated when you want to capture 3D-360 video. Unlike monoscopic video, 3D video requires depth. We get depth by capturing each location in a scene with two cameras — the camera equivalent of your left eye and right eye. That means you have to shoot in stereoscopic 360, with 10 to 20 cameras collectively pointing in every direction. Furthermore, all the cameras must capture 30 or 60 frames per second, exactly and simultaneously. In other words, they must be globally synchronized. Finally, you need to fuse or stitch all the images from each camera into one seamless video, and you have to do it twice: once from the virtual position for the left eye, and once for the right eye.

Source: Facebook press release.