Different Way of Capturing Images
The light field capture photographic system is something different. When you take a picture with one of these cameras, the camera gets the direction of the light rays as well as the intensity and color of the light. The light sensor records all this information so the exact image can be reproduced when the image is viewed. The camera has an array of many small lenses placed one focal length in front of the camera sensor so that what is eventually captured is an array of stereoscopic images. The first such cameras demonstrated at the Stanford University Graphics Laboratory in 2004 employed 90,000 micro lenses. Using this array means there are no truly unfocussed parts of the image–the focus can be restored for any part of the image when it is viewed.
Five Revolutionary Advances
- Light field capture has the same 3D virtual reality capability for real life images as synthetically produced images have had up until now.
- The images are recreations of what was really there at the point the images were photographed. Within the space, a viewer can turn and move around while lighting and textures remain consistent.
- The light field capture system does not record a large number of complete image graphics. The recording system is based on ideas developed in holographic technology. Instead of images, it stores detailed light-flow information which is later reconstructed and played back. This kind of recording amounts to a compression technique which increases potential storage capability.
- The 3D capability of the light field capture is enhanced by the fact that the light information incorporates multiple binocular pairs of potential images.
- The light field capture system is sold as a unit including all that is needed to produce a full-hour of 360-degree 3D virtual reality content.
“Light field photography is different from traditional photography because the cameras can measure the geometry of the light that strikes the image sensor…with enough computer power, Lytro’s software can then reconstruct the scene that was captured in three dimensions.”
Lytro, a company founded by Ren Ng, a graduate of the Stanford University Graphics Laboratory, developed and marketed
- The first consumer light field camera is a neo-box camera with 8GB (350 images) or 16 GB (750 images) of built-in memory.
- The ILLUM, which came out in 2012 has a 30 to 250 mm (35 MM equiv.) f/2 lens. The image stored on the memory card could be refocused on viewing so that any detail can be brought into focus. The Lytro still field cameras never made a substantial impact on the marketplace. The viewing system was too cumbersome for professional photographers. The adjustable focus option was not enough to attract them.
- The Lytro Immerge was announced in November 2015. This light field capture system was designed as the Future of VR, creating virtual reality (VR) content.
VR Image Cameras
The Lytro Immerge camera entered the market in 2016. It comes as a complete system, providing all the necessary hardware, software and services to capture, process, edit and play back 360 video content. It features a flexible, configurable dense light field camera array as well its own server for storage and processing, an editor system, and a playback engine for VR and other viewing platforms. The Immerge server can store up to one hour of light field capture. The server can process the light field data.
Because all the data about a given “light field” is captured, Immerge allows for virtual 3D views from any point, facing any direction, and with any field of view. Immerse places viewers in the action by replicating natural light flow. It corrects stereo alignment to keep the scenes consistent as viewers move their heads. This potential creates a highly realistic immersive VR experience.
The Lytro Immerge system is described as “a five-ringed globe that captures what Lytro is calling a ‘light-field volume.'” The system consists of layers, each of which fully captures a cubic meter of light rays. The final output yields five cubic meters of space that are fully actualized. The camera captures all the light rays in the volume of light surrounding the camera. The software plays back all the rays at very high frame rates and high-resolution. The viewer can move around the light ray array.
The output of the Immerge system is designed to be compatible with the next generation of VR viewers, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC VIVE, and Sony Play Station VR. It also works with smartphone systems mounted in VR viewers.
The Lytro Cinema promises to take the Immerge model light field cinema camera one step further, correcting some of the artifacts that can be distracting in the Immerge images.
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