The Premise. Most would agree that even the best photos and videos of a moment or place don’t compare to actually being present. Like all interesting technology, photography has certainly evolved significantly from its beginnings but has a long way to go in terms of completely reproducing a moment. The whole issue is further evidence that we just need teleporters already.
The Product. Panocam 3D, the world’s first 3D 360 degree camera, has kicked photography evolution up a notch. Now making 3D 360° videos easy for anyone, the camera is actually made up of 12 synchronized Full HD cameras which span 360° horizontally and 160° vertically. Once your photos are uploaded to your computer VideoStitch software automatically stitches them together for easy 360° viewing. With additional software you can also make and view 360° videos, which can be viewed using a virtual reality headset, which is where the real fun comes in.
The Pitch. The Panocam 3D is presented in an under-minute campaign video which gets straight to the point. While the video features a few clips of 360° video, it does not show off examples of the camera’s vertical span and leaves viewers wanting a little more. Later in the campaign page there are video downloads available, which helps make up for the initial shortage. A flexible funding campaign, the Panocam will receive all funds it raises and aims to earn $25,000 in 40 days. If funded, prototypes are expected to start shipping as early as May.
The Perks. Interestingly, Panocam 3D offers five backer levels before getting to the one that provides a prototype of the product. Outside of the E.U., you may back Panocam to the tune of $3,999, not including value-added tax (VAT) and fees from customs, which could get hefty. For E.U. residents, these duties are already built in to backer levels, so $4,799 USD will get you a Panocam complete pack if you are one of the first 20 backers in the E.U. Once the early bird closes out, backers can expect to pay $4,999 (not including VAT and custom duties) for a Panocam 3D complete pack, which includes the software for stitching everything together. The project creators have added a stretch goal of $100,000 to make the product available in a variety of colors.
The Potential. Clearly, at this point, the cost of the product makes it less realistic for the masses but potentially an avenue for professional filmmakers to consider for attractions. The bloom has been off the 3D rose for some time, but may be making a comeback as glasses-free technologies make progress. 360Heroes was a like-minded project on Kickstarter with the intention of making 3D video recording more available to the general public. The project failed to meet its funding goal although it seems to be carrying forward. Another 3D video device, the Tamaggo ibi, has been missing in action since its public debut back in 2012. At CES 2014, Voxx announced products by Carnegie Mellon offshoot EyeSe360, which should provide 360° 2D video at a more consumer-friendly price.