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ARC Project Investigators: Jeffrey Shaw, Dennis Del Favero, Neil Brown, Ian Howard, Ross Gibson, Mark Gugliemetti, Adrian Miles, Scott McQuire, Nikos Papastergiadis, Henry Gardner, Pascal Vuylsteker
Technical Lead and Cinematography: Volker Kuchelmeister
ARC Project Title: 240 × 360 degree digital video camera for interactive immersive visualization research applications
ARC LIEF Grant ID: LE0453517
The Spherecam project involves the development of a high-resolution 240 × 360 degree digital video camera system and post-production facilities.
While advances in digital technology have revolutionised the field of cinema and multimedia, for a number of theoretical and technical reasons, the domain of immersive high-resolution digital video recording using global capture systems, has yet to take advantage of these developments. The promise of fully immersive high-resolution digital capture proposed by this system is twofold. Firstly, its unprecedented field of view opens up the process of documentation to global information capture and representational flexibility implied by such a recording system. Video imaging is currently held captive to older pictorial paradigms of visualisation dominated by the picture plane and the frame. The entrenched role of the frame in conventional cinema places severe limits on the immersive quality of the information recorded and on the ability to generate large and seamless informational spaces to navigate. Secondly, high-resolution digital capture resolves information at a specification equivalent to conventional large format film cameras, but with the advantages of enhanced portability, offering far longer recording times, immediate access to the recorded data, non-linear interactive capabilities, and much lower overall production, post-production and presentation costs.
Global recording technology works beyond the perspectival framing constraints of traditional lenses and, as such, constitutes an expanded model of representation that is truer to the way we actually apprehend the world. Contrary to the enlargement of the screen (e.g. CinemaScope), this camera’s enlargement of the image space achieves semantic extension of the narrative space. By creating such extensions of the image space, the navigable environment allows the interactive viewer to assume the role of both camera operator and editor, operations that are pre-determined in conventional cinema. Reformulating the role of narrative in new media and interactive cinema promises a significant extension of their cultural and commercial benefits by exploring the relation between cultural drivers of digital information and their dependent technologies. The reformulation involves three types of narrative: polychronic – digitally generated social spaces in which both viewers and fictional entities are allotted an autonomous voice; transcriptive – in which viewers can dramatise freely available multi-modal forms of digital information into idiosyncratic narratives that are eventful and cinematic in character; co-evolutionary – modelled on the emergent narrative interaction between the behaviour of virtual actors or avatars and real viewers. In a virtual environment, viewers join with the author to influence the pattern of the narrative that emerges. Narrative reformulation involves the resolution of fundamental problems in theoretical modelling, software design, adaptive computing, visualisation techniques and interface research, building on the predictions advanced in the systemic narrative theory of Gilles Deleuze, Michel Serres and Manuel De Landa.