There is no doubt that today, we live in the era of immersive media. Video game publishers strive to release hyper-realistic gameplays, marketers attempt to boost their audience’s engagement through innovative content, and movie directors take advantage of technologies to transport the spectator into a lifelike environment.
And, as the global immersive media market soars a whopping $180 billion in value, volumetric videos are quickly becoming a must-have tool in most industries. But what is this type of media form? And what can it be used for? Discover more in the guide below.
What Is Volumetric Video? Let’s Cover the Basics
If you are a science-fiction fan, you’ll know that the concept of holograms – and, in turn, volumetric videos – has been around for a while. However, this technology has only started to develop since the early 2000s, with the advent of technologies and techniques such as virtual reality, light fields, positional tracking, and photogrammetry.
Today’s volumetric videos capture all aspects of a subject to allow the user to view and experience a certain scene, subject, or actor from any chosen angle. Volumetric videos represent an advancement compared to 3D and 360-videos, which only allow the user to perceive a subject from the pre-set angle.
Thanks to new technologies, users experiencing a volumetric video can benefit from six degrees of freedom (6DoF):
View from the X axis
View from the Y axis
View from the Z axis
These capabilities make viewing a video an immersive experience that will actively involve the user.
Capturing Volumetric Videos: Tools and Techniques
Capturing volumetric videos requires the convergence of a variety of tools and techniques, including depth-sensing cameras, multiple traditional cameras, green screen sound stages, and 3D modelling software. The 3D mesh created by syncing the recordings from each camera can then be uploaded onto different environments and game engines for viewing.
However, today’s creators can leverage companies such as Depthkit, HoloCap, Arcturus, and 4Dviews, which have now started offering all-in-one solutions to create, edit, and improve volumetric sequences.
The Challenges of Playing and Viewing Volumetric Videos
If creating volumetric videos remains a challenge for most creators, viewing them is just as complex – especially for unequipped users. And, today, this represents one of the greatest barriers to the widespread adoption of volumetric videos.
Indeed, to create a “no screen” experience, both single and multi-users should be equipped with AR or VR headsets, which are often cumbersome and out of budget for some demographics.
What’s more, so far, volumetric video playback requires the user to download the entire video onto their devices before being able to play it. And, as most users are now accustomed to streaming services and instant playback, pre-downloading videos might not always be an appealing option for users.
While these challenges remain significant, the emergence of new AR and VR technologies for iPhones is likely to fuel widespread adoption.
Use Cases of Volumetric Videos
Today’s volumetric videos are mostly produced by game publishers and professional studios and usually have high-profile use cases. For example, they are used to boost the quality of major sports leagues’ match highlights and in the gaming industry. New uses for this technology include creating more immersive movie trailers (such as for Blade Runner 2049).
Volumetric Videos: What Does the Future Hold?
Undeniably, the widespread adoption of volumetric videos is inhibited by the need for often costly and cumbersome VR headsets and enabled devices. However, thanks to the introduction of user-friendly VR and Ar solutions such as Facebook’s Oculus Quest and Apple’s VR applications for iPhones, the future of immersive media is rosier than ever.
The Final Word
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Jay B McCauley is a renowned award-winning music journalist, broadcaster and record producer. He has written for some of the biggest platforms in the game and runs his own label Vagrant Soundz.