×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Adobe Wants to Turn Flat 360-Degree Videos Into True Virtual Reality (EXCLUSIVE)

Hardly a day has gone by this month without the announcement of a new virtual reality (VR) camera system. Facebook, Google and GoPro all aim to make VR more immersive with new cameras, some of which won’t be commercially released for the foreseeable future. However, researchers at Adobe believe that you may not need new camera hardware at all for a big leap in immersion.

Adobe’s head of research Gavin Miller is going to present new cutting-edge technology at NAB in Las Vegas this Tuesday that could one day be used to turn flat, monoscopic 360-degree videos shot with consumer-grade spherical cameras into fully immersive VR video, complete with the ability to lean into the video — something that’s being called six degrees of freedom (6DoF) among industry insiders.

The difference between monoscopic 360-degree video and VR experiences offering six degrees of freedom is especially important for users of high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. These headsets offer room-scale tracking, which means that the headset knows where in the room the viewer is, accurately translating a motion like “leaning forward” into corresponding visuals.

Doing this is relatively easy with computer-generated imagery, but giving the viewer the freedom to actually move around in a recorded video requires cutting-edge image capture technology. Light field camera systems for example, like the one developed by Lytro, potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, Adobe’s scientists have figured out a way to deduct crucial information about a room by analyzing the movement of a camera through something they call a “structure-from-motion” algorithm (for the technically inclined: here’s a research paper on the approach).

That data can then be used to generate new perspectives to account for different viewpoints, giving viewers the ability to truly lean in to a video that previously wasn’t even 3D. The technology could also be used to stabilize 360-degree video, or to generate different versions of a video that work for users with varying degrees of motion comfort levels.

There’s one major caveat for this approach: Adding six degrees of freedom to a flat 360-degree video only works if the camera does actually move. “We assume the camera moves to infer the depth,” explained Miller. “If the camera rotates but does not move side to side we cannot compute depth but can stabilize the rotation.”

Still, the approach goes to show that building complex cameras isn’t the only solution for advances in VR video. Computer vision algorithms are just as important, with Miller even arguing that expensive camera hardware may not be necessary at all to generate full immersive VR video. “If it’s there it’s nice — if it’s not there it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

Miller is going to present this research Tuesday at NAB on a panel about next generation image making, which also features Light Field Lab CEO Jon Karafin talking about next-generation holographic display technology

Miller is also going to use the panel to talk about using deep learning to replace the sky in an image with that of a different image, and visual search that can find pictures not only based on their content, but on the arrangement of individual images, making it possible to search for images with dogs on the left side of their owner — two projects Adobe previously showed at its Max conference.

All of these projects are part of Adobe’s advanced research, and may not necessarily make it into one of the company’s products in this form. However, it’s easy to see how at least some of this technology could find its way into Adobe’s editing tools, especially as the company is looking to find its role in virtual reality production and monetization.

More Digital

  • Evan Williams, Twitter founder (R) and

    Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Steps Down From Company’s Board

    Twitter co-founder Evan “Ev” Williams is stepping down from the company’s board, Twitter announced in a SEC filing Friday afternoon. Williams will depart from the board at the end of this month, according to the filing. “It’s been an incredible 13 years, and I’m proud of what Twitter has accomplished during my time with the [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Shuts Down Controversial Ovano VPN App

    Responding to a continued backlash over its data collection practices, Facebook pulled the plug on its Ovano VPN app Friday. Ovano, which promised users an added level of privacy while using public Wifi hotspots, was used by Facebook for market research purposes. Facebook removed the app from the Google Play store Friday, and the company [...]

  • Smosh

    Smosh Acquired by Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment

    UPDATED: Smosh, the long-running YouTube comedy brand, has been acquired by Mythical Entertainment, the company formed by Rhett & Link, hosts of comedy show “Good Mythical Morning.” As first reported by Variety last week, Mythical emerged as the leading candidate to buy Smosh, which was left stranded after parent company Defy Media shut down without [...]

  • China Video Streaming Giant iQIYI Loses

    Chinese Video Giant iQIYI Loses $1.3 Billion in 2018

    Chinese video streaming firm iQIYI lost over $1.3 billion in 2018, as revenues and subscriber numbers ballooned. The deepening losses reflected ever higher spending on original content production. Announcing its first full-year financials since a March IPO that launched it onto the NASDAQ, iQIYI said that it lost $1.3 billion (RMB9.1 billion) last compared with [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Aims to Top $1 Billion in Revenue in 2019, Beats Holiday Quarter Earnings Expectations

    Roku wants to become a billion-dollar company in 2019, and invest more in its ongoing international expansion. The streaming-device maker told investors on Thursday that it expects to generate between $1 billion and $1.025 billion this year, and that international growth was one of its key investment areas for 2019. Roku made these announcements as [...]

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content