sphericam, the early years
I started building 360º video cameras in some form since around 2008.
Early research in omnidirectional camera hardware development
I was building 360º video cameras in some form since around 2008. In the beginning I chose the simplest, cheapest, most accessible off-the-shelf components I could find, which happened to be analog CCTV board cameras and various types of DVR capture cards. This yielded surprisingly decent quality at the time; additionally the relatively large pixel size, as well as the very mature and highly evolved analog CMOS sensor, allowed extremely high sensitivity in darkness.
Here we have 4 VGA-resolution analog CMOS board cameras, each with a fisheye lens; these board cameras are mounted to a custom CNC-machined aluminum core, mounted inside a common fuse box. The cameras are connected to a 4-channel security DVR card (PCI-express) which is connected to a regular x86 windows PC.
Of course, when the opportunity presents itself, a good old ammo box should be used to mount the PC inside. The ammo box and camera head are mounted to a standard US army "molle" backpack frame. Fun fact: this is the same backpack frame used by the original Ghostbusters.
Hacking around with analog video components eventually evolved into the device that became Sphericam 1, which was launched on Kickstarter in 2012. This Kickstarter campaign earned around $35,000 USD, from around 50 backers, who eventually received their working Sphericam 1 cameras a few months later (we were late in shipping them, but we did ship them all).
trade shows and field testing
Between 2015 and 2017, we trekked to Las Vegas, New York City, Amsterdam, London, Toyko, and other places, pitching the magic of VR, and the magic of Sphericam as the missing link for professional content creation in this burgeoning new medium. At the time, there were many intricate and well-funded market analyses proclaiming that the VR industry was going to grow even faster than the iPhone. We used these hockey stick graphs to their fullest extent, of course. The reality did not shake out that way, for various reasons. As of 2019, VR is still growing, but a lot slower than what people thought a couple of years ago.
Google Streetview Summit, Tokyo, May 2017
Google London VR Symposium 2016
Jeffrey Martin at IVRPA Vienna 2017
Sphericam Be Terrific interview at NAB 2016
Sphericam Beast at CES Unveiled NYC, 2016
MacVoices at ShowStoppers (CES) 2016
NAB 2016 (B&H) Interview
NAB 2016 (Broadcast Beat) Interview
NAB 2016 (DV Asia) Interview
NAB 2016 (NewsShooter) Interview
Sphericam at World VR Fest 2016 (Switzerland)
The 5 best 360º Cameras of 2015
Spoiler: none of these companies are around anymore ;-)
Lee Jeans interviews Jeffrey Martin
(I still don't know why)
This is a bizarre combination of interview and jeans commercial. I don't know how or why this happened, but it did. So I'll just leave it here. Because if you can't publish your own embarrassing interviews on your own website, what kind of a human are you, really?
Sphericam at IBC 2015
NAB 2016: Voice of America Interview with Lori Swartz
engineering and assembly
Lots of things were conceived, designed, built, assembled, disassembled, hacked apart, and shown to the public, by these people below. We built a very, very complete stack: electrical / PCB design, FPGA architecture and design, mechanical design; imaging ISP (image debayer, color tuning, etc.); BTC raw/bayer image compression; lens calibration, image stitching, video rendering, live streaming. Could we have used a few existing components somewhere along the way? Most certainly yes. I won't go into the who, why, or how, just yet. For that, you'll have to wait for the book.....
Videos about, and sample videos from, sphericam 2
See more about the product and the team
Sphericam 2 Assembly
The always-sensible Rob van Schelven assembled many Sphericam 2 cameras. Here we find him deep in the process of assembling a number of cameras.
At NAB 2017 we partnered with Duy Tran from NanSense, and showed a combination of live-stitched, streaming spherical video, with a realtime-rendered 3d human, via NanSense's Motion-Capture (mocap) full body suit, inserted into the spherical video. Bleeding edge stuff at the time.
Sphericam Beast - sample
Sphericam Beast was the world's first 4x 4K60, 10 bit RAW professional 360 camera. Yes, it was a beast.
Sphericam Beast - video sample 2
Sphericam video stitcher - demo
Sphericam 2 sample - keyhole sunset
Sphericam software stabilization - sample 1
Sphericam 2 video sample - Dvorak Symphony
Sphericam software stabilization - sample 2
Sphericam software stabilization - sample 3
Sphericam 2 video sample - Shanghai
Sphericam 2 - bike ride 1
Sphericam 2 - bike ride 2
Sphericam protorig video sample 1
Sphericam protorig video sample 2
CNC Machining a Snub Cube Octahedron
Pick and Place machine populating a Sphericam 2 PCB
In a parallel universe, this PCB is flawless, and we don't spend another 12 months debugging something that could have been designed better at the beginning. Alas! For this another juicy bits, you'll just have to wait for the book.