During the keynote address at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the social media giant announced Facebook Surround 360: an open-source 3D-360 camera aimed at the professional marketplace.
Facebook says the design solves a variety of technical problems with 360-degree video capture better than anything now on the market, and is encouraging manufacturers and hobbyists to use its designs to build cameras of their own.
The rig includes 14 wide-angle cameras bolted onto the flying saucer, plus one fish-eye camera on top and two more on the bottom. This allows the device to capture the surroundings without showing the pole holding up the camera, a common problem here in the early days of 360-degree video. The cameras use what is known as a global shutter instead of a rolling one, which ensures the resulting footage does not display artifacts from the closing of individual shutters. In a brief demonstration Monday at Facebook headquarters, video captured through Surround 360 appeared to be crisp and seamless, with no flaws visible in the footage.
Facebook engineers spent $30,000 buying the raw materials for the camera. The cameras are made by Point Grey, which makes cameras for industrial, scientific, medical, traffic and security applications, according to its website.
Facebook will not be mass producing and shipping these cameras on its own. Instead, the plans and software will be released free online and made available to anyone who thinks they could put the device to good use. Facebook explained this in greater detail in a blog posted shortly after the product’s announcement:
“The system includes a design for camera hardware and the accompanying stitching code, and we will make both available on GitHub this summer. We’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 official specs for a completed Surround camera are as follows:
-Resolution: 2048×2048 – 4.1 Megapixel
-Frame Rate: 60 FPS Max
-Interface: USB 3.0
-Top and bottom fisheye lens
-Focal length: 2.7mm
-Manual iris range: F1.8 – F16
-Angular FOV: 185° x 185°
Wide Angle Lens Ring
-Focal Length: 7mm
-Mass: 90 Grams
-Fixed Iris F2.4
-Top Plate: 1/4″ thick Mic-6 aluminum alloy black anodized finish
-Bottom plate: 3/4″ thick Mic-6 aluminum alloy black, anodized finish
-Top and bottom shell 18 gauge SS powder coated