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Capture Tips Volumetric Video

An Intro to Volumetric Video in Under 10 Minutes

Volumetric video represents a new union joining traditional linear workflows with interactive media like games and digital environments. As more industries adopt volumetric video, content creators will have the opportunity to add richer, more immersive elements, engaging the viewer in the experience. The benefits can be profound, but businesses, teams, and software must evolve to meet future demand.

Are you interested in learning more about volumetric video? Read below to learn about how volumetric capture works and its future application.

What is volumetric video?
Volumetric video capture technology is a technique that digitizes a three-dimensional space (i.e., the volume of space), object, or environment in real-time using an array of cameras set around a target. The captured object can be digitized and transferred to the web, mobile, or virtual worlds and viewed in 3D. What makes volumetric video interesting is the final product does not have a set viewpoint, so the end-user can watch and interact with it from all angles, enhancing their experience and heightening their sense of immersion and engagement.

The difference between 360-degree video and volumetric video is the depth provided with volume. In a 360-degree video, users can only view the video from a single, constant depth. With volumetric video, the end-user can play director and control how far in or out they want to explore the scene.

How is volumetric video currently used?
Sports and entertainment are two of the biggest industries benefiting from volumetric video. In the past, production teams have been forced to integrate 2D video into a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) experience. Now that they can capture a 3D view of the object, the end-user can have a 1-on-1 experience right in their living room with an athlete, artist, or entertainer.

Large enterprises have started adopting the technology for employee training, customer service, product inspection, advertising, and internal communications. As the technology becomes more mature, expect to see volumetric video experiences used far and wide.

How is volumetric video captured?
In a nutshell, volumetric video is captured by uniformly rigging cameras around the subject and recording the target from all angles. Each camera’s output is then synced and processed to produce a 3D mesh. Then the 3D mesh can be added to different environments, game engines, and virtual worlds.

Volumetric video rig setup - camera placement and camera focus

What are some best practices when capturing volumetric video?
There are five main areas you must consider when capturing.

1. Camera specs: The higher quality of your camera, the better results you’ll achieve. It’s not required that you capture with a depth-sensing camera. A DSLR/point-and-shoot camera is fine, but you’ll want to avoid fish-eye lenses.

2. Camera settings: Ensure that each camera in your rig has the same focal length and that auto-focus is turned off. It’s also crucial that each camera has the same file start and stop times synced throughout the sequence.

3. Lighting: The goal is to have diffused, flat, even lighting throughout. Avoid hotspots and spotlights.

4. Background: Interesting and varied backgrounds are optimal. Stay away from solid blues and greens.

5. Subject: Ensure that you capture the top/back of the head, behind ears, feet, and the torso/back area. These areas are often neglected when capturing. You’ll also want to limit anything shiny or flowy. For example, jewelry, glasses, some clothing, and hair do not capture well.

Click Here to Download our Free Guide to Photogrammetry, Scanning, and Volumetric Video Best Practices

What is the promise of volumetric video?
Volumetric video will change the way viewers interact with media, how cinematographers tell stories, and what in-demand skills production teams will value in the future.

For the viewer, the lines between real and virtual worlds will begin to blur. One day you could (virtually) travel to explore a new vacation spot, and the next, you may be fully immersed, hanging out with friends in an artificial world.

With this technology, cinematographers can tell more profound, enriching stories. And, once something is captured, it can easily be repurposed and used beyond its original scope. Shooting on a virtual set doesn’t require a large crew, even so much that the cinematographer could potentially work remotely.

Artists and developers who are highly skilled at creating seamless interactive events and assets could replace traditional skill sets like lighting, modeling, and animation. The production pipeline will shrink and require less labor-intensive processes as projects use more artificial intelligence and machine learning. Artists will need to keep up with the latest software and techniques to remain relevant.