Spherecam

Objectives & Context

Objectives

The project’s objectives are:

  • to develop the first truly global interactive and immersive imaging and projection systems possessing digital capture on a scale to match conventional cinematic techniques;
  • to provide facilities to employ globally immersive cinematic formats in the research and development of interactive narrative systems while allowing benefits of these new systems to be realised by the cultural sector and entertainment industry;
  • to set a new international benchmark in: a) the transcription of raw material using global recording; b) the development of global recording as the basis for the reformulation of navigable narratives within immersive and interactive environments.

Context

Since 1996 Professor Jeffrey Shaw has been designing and developing various cluster camera configurations, which enable 360 degree panoramic video recording.

zkm_cams_1
Three generations of digital video cluster cameras built by Shaw at ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany.

The original project concept proposed a single fisheye lens configuration with twelve miniature CCD cameras beneath it recording the image from an optical faceplate. On the receipt of the grant the Investigators commissioned preliminary research to establish the most recent developments in a quickly changing manufacturing domain. This research provided initial advice to replace the twelve CCD cameras and optical faceplate with a single 4K x 4K CCD chip. Two further expert reports were commissioned to evaluate in more detail the optimum design specification of the spherical camera. The conclusion of both reports was that a single chip fisheye lens solution for an ultra-high resolution video camera was not currently feasible. The closest outcome that could be achieved would be a dual chip solution (each 2K x 4K pixels) together with the development of a custom fisheye lens and beam splitter prism to distribute the total fisheye image over the dual chip array. However the latter solution would involve a significant and arduous research and manufacturing effort, as well as using technologies that have not yet been industrially proven, and, in addition, cost would be prohibitive. Examining the reports in the light of the project’s objectives, numerous areas of implementation were identified that could not be addressed through the purchase of one single recording device. Given this situation, currently available high-resolution camera technologies were reviewed and a three-component approach was adopted to undertake a coherent and integrated solution to the project’s objectives. This approach encompassed an ensemble of innovative panoramic and spherical pre-visualisation and visualisation procedures allowing for optimum global recording.

early_designs
Concept studies, single fisheye lens configurations