Google reveals 17-lense VR-ready camera

Virtual reality filming certainly is hotting up. Google is the latest big name to unveil its VR-ready camera, with Facebook and GoPro both revealing plans for their own immersive technologies in the last 10 days.

Made by Chinese camera company Yi with Google, the YI Halo is set to go toe-to-toe with Facebook’s x24 and x6 as well as GoPro’s Fusion in the VR production market. With 17 lenses and 4K shooting capacity, the YI Halo runs on Google’s Jump VR platform to create fully immersive 360-degree film. Set to go on sale this summer, the camera will cost a cool $17,000 when released. “Cameras are hot. That’s good. We planned this a while ago,” Amit Singh, Google’s VP of business for VR, said ahead of the release.

The Halo is aimed at lengthy (and costly) productions that use expensive special effects artists to put together the footage. In order to get more people shooting, Google is launching a program called Jump Start. Filmmakers can apply for free cameras and use of the Jump software. GoPro has launched a similar programme in conjunction with the launch of its Fusion camera, in order to get budding VR filmmakers behind the camera.

Last week Facebook announced that it was updating its Surround 360 VR camera – which was launched last year. Launching two new systems (the x24 and x6) that combine multiple cameras in order to create the illusion that the user is walking around a VR scene, Facebook – like Google – is keen to get more people filming in VR. Why? Because they inevitably want people to buy their VR headsets that they spent much of last year developing. Facebook owns Oculus Rift, while Google has two of its own low-cost products – the Cardboard and the Google Daydream, View.

So the headsets are in place, the one thing stopping the VR revolution is the lack of quality film out there… well, that looks like it’s soon about to change!

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