Lytro’s new Cinema camera is so revolutionary that you have to ask: Is this for real?
The film world is a-twitter with the announcement of Lytro’s new camera that changes the game with its high-resolution censor, post-production capabilities and easy integration of VFX.
The new Lytro Cinema camera sensor captures photons unlike any camera on the market. By grabbing detailed light field information involving the angle and direction of every bit of light in the frame, the camera creates a partially reconstructed actual 3-D space, allowing you to modify the video’s focus and depth of field after it’s shot.
If that was the only groundbreaking feature, this camera would still be a game changer, but it doesn’t stop there. The camera enables shooters to adjust almost everything after the fact; you can reposition the camera angle and tweak the frame rate and shutter speed. Further, by capturing the depth of every object in a shot, the camera could eliminate the need for a physical green screen. In other words, when you can isolate either the background or the foreground elements, it should be easy to add green-screen elements with out using an actual green screen. If the camera lives up to what Lytro’s claims, this could change the on-set experience quite dramatically.
According to Lytro, the camera has the highest resolution censor ever designed. It has the capabilities to capture 744 RAW megapixel at up to 300 frames-per-second and 16 stops of dynamic range. Also included with the camera is editing software, servers for cloud storage and processing.
One apparent fact of this new camera is that it is not exactly for consumers. The main draw according Lytro is to ease production in bigger-budget projects that involve an extensive mixing of live-action and computer- generated components. The digital holographic 3-D space of real-word objects created while filming makes it easier to blend them with computer-generated models in post production, and will also allow effects artists to keep the same effects for live action and CG elements of a scene. These features potentially minimize the burden of the typical time intensive, expensive post process.
Additionally, to further help ease the process for visual effects teams, Lytro plans to release plug-ins for standard tools used in the visual effects industry and will supply a server array for storage since 3-D light-field footage uses a lot of data.
With subscription prices starting at $125,000, Lytro’s light field technology doesn’t seem to have a place in the consumer world for now. However, it most definitely has the potential to change the way professional cinematographers film CGI heavy projects. The camera is currently being promoted as a VFX tool, but if it is heavily used it will most likely find its way into the more standard filmmaking process. It will be interesting to see how directors and cinematographer react to having creative decisions such as camera movement and depth of field—usually made on set—become something more easily modified in post, but the possibility of having a shot that is never out of focus will surely be appealing to some.
Lytro says the new camera systems will be available for production teams to rent in late 2016.