360-degree video, coinciding with the advent of practical virtual reality, is going to be big. But so far, the format seems to have been split into two categories: cheap consumer cameras like the Rico Theta, or ridiculously expensive rigs like Google and GoPro’s Jump or Nokia’s Ozo.
VideoStitch, a company known for its 360-degree video software, wants to change the game for professional VR broadcasting with its new Orah 4i camera. Priced at $3,595 ($1,795 during an early promotional period), the 4i a camera meant for professional streamers, but not priced esoterically the way amulti-camera rig might be.
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It’s also possibly the first all-in-one solution for livestreaming professional quality 360-degree video, which normally has to be uploaded after the initial recording and stitching video. The company says its expertise from building prosumer 360-degree video software helped create the Orah’s hardware, which it believes offers the best price-to-performance ratio on the market.
The streaming kit actually consists of two parts: A small camera about the size of a small DSLR, and a base unit that does the stitching and processing for live footage.
The camera features four fish-eye lenses and sensors in a small metal body. Each lens is stabilized, and four microphones help capture ‘ambisonic’ 3D audio, which basically means that sound will be mapped to whatever direction you’re currently viewing in the video.
It’s also designed to be thermally efficient to avoid the overheating issues of some multi-camera rigs, and it only needs one cable to connect to the streaming rig. Meanwhile the processing unit consists of an unspecified Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU – but at least they seem to get the job done.
I was able to spend some time trying the Orah in New York, and was impressed by the stream’s quality.
In particular, the excellent stitching seemed much better than your average consumer camera – which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising coming from a company with called ‘VideoStitch’ – while not being nearly as unweildly as a cumbersome GoPro rig with multiple cables running out of the system.
At an MSRP of nearly $4,000, VideoStitch knows its cameras aren’t meant to be bought by the everyday consumer, but that’s not its target market. Instead, the hope is that by providing a reasonably priced all-in-one solution, more brands and professional streamers, which means more 360-degree content for everyone.