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The social networking giant’s professional camera setup, Surround 360, has new tricks it says will make virtual reality feel much more… well, real.
These two new spherical cameras represent Facebook’s biggest move yet to make VR video attractive to filmmakers.
Imagine you’re watching a butterfly as it flits through the air and into the foliage.
Normally, as it disappeared into the leaves, you’d bob and turn your head trying to see if you could catch one last look from a different angle. But in a movie, you can’t do that.
Think again.
Facebook has created new designs for its professional camera, the Surround 360, which works in tandem with virtual reality headsets. Among its new features is the ability to peer around the virtual world it’s filming. For the viewer, that means you can lean forward or side to side from your chair and you’ll see a different angle, just as if you were there.
This technology is called “six degrees of freedom,” or “6DoF,” referring to all the ways you can move (front, back, up, down, and side to side). But to you and me, it means being able to peer around a lamppost or underneath a table.
“It gives you the ability to feel much more closely like you’re there,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said Wednesday.
The cameras were shown publicly for the first time Wednesday at Facebook’s F8 developer conference , which is taking place in San Jose, California.
Facebook launches its new Surround 360 cameras (x24 and x6), making it possible for viewers to move around in a virtual world using an Oculus device.
The new cameras and software, the designs and code for which Facebook is posting on the web for free and offering through a group of partner manufacturers, are part of the company’s stated promise to spend as much as $3 billion over the next decade to convince you and me that VR technology is worth buying.
So far, it’s been a hard sell. While there are some compelling movies, games and other experiences, fewer than 100 million devices have landed in people’s homes around the world.

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