April 12, 2016

Liberate Your Shots from On-Set Decisions with Lytro's Groundbreaking Cinema Camera

Lytros Cinema Camera
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, which changes the game with its high-resolution sensor, 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 3D space, allowing you to modify the video’s focus and depth of field after it’s shot.  

If that were the only groundbreaking feature, this camera would still be a game-changer, but it doesn't stop there. Lytro Cinema also enables shooters to adjust almost everything after the fact; you can reposition the camera angle and tweak the frame rate and shutter speed.

The camera has the highest resolution sensor ever designed​.

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 without using an actual green screen. 

According to Lytro, the camera has the highest resolution sensor ever designed. It can capture 744 RAW megapixel at up to 300 frames-per-second and 16 stops of dynamic range. Also included with the camera: editing software and servers for cloud storage and processing. 

Lytros Cinema camera specs

The main draw, according to Lytro, is to ease production in bigger-budget projects that involve an extensive mix of live-action and computer-generated components. The digital holographic 3D space of real-world objects created while filming makes it easier to blend with computer-generated models in post-production. This will allow VFX artists to keep the same effects for the live action and CG elements of a scene, potentially minimizing the burden of the time-intensive and expensive post process.

To further ease the process for VFX teams, Lytro plans to release plug-ins for standard tools used in the visual effects industry and will supply a server array for storage (because 3D 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, even though the camera is currently being promoted as a VFX tool, it will most likely find its way into the standard filmmaking process. It will be interesting to see how directors and cinematographers react to relegating creative decisions, such as camera movement and depth of field, to post-production. Surely the possibility of ensuring that a shot that is never out of focus will appeal to some.

Lytro says the new camera systems will be available for production teams to rent in late 2016.

Your Comment

31 Comments

While I applaud the amazing technology and see how it could be extremely useful for blockbuster super hero features or other SFX heavy applications. However, as I was watching the video, I could not help but cringe. Where is the "art" in unlimited coverage, focus, reframing and frame rate options?? Undoubtedly this will appeal to studios that want absolute control over every frame, but I cannot help but think that there is a whole generation of filmmakers that will lose touch the organic traits that make cinema so magical. Not having absolute control is precisely what allows the creativity to flow and the magic to happen.

April 12, 2016 at 4:45PM, Edited April 12, 4:45PM

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The same thing could be said about the switch from film to digital. Personally, I think it will bring more opportunity to do what could've not been done before.

April 12, 2016 at 4:58PM

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Agreed, tools do not create the inspiration, they should unlock it. Not matter the tool if that vision isn't there, there is no story to film anyway.

April 12, 2016 at 5:40PM

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Shaun Ryan
Director
13

Also sounds like when Mocap started and animators were up in arms.

April 13, 2016 at 12:27AM

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Film GRIT
Host With The Most
209

I agree with your underlining point, however I've witnessed first hand my father transition in the early 90's from film to digital photography. He's a pioneer in special effects photography and the difference in his work from when everything had to be accomplished in frame to now having the freedom to do everything in post has created a list of problems... One is the laziness and the lack of the attention to detail that would be mandatory if the luxury of post wasn't the first option.

April 13, 2016 at 11:49AM

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Emil
Content
115

Although I agree that it is a shame that more pwould leave it to post, I also think it will bring out more creativity. Pixar and Anime have shown us that cinematography can be still kept

April 12, 2016 at 6:29PM

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"Not having absolute control is precisely what allows the creativity to flow and the magic to happen."
this implies that the more control you have the less creative you're able to be.
which is simply wrong.

April 12, 2016 at 7:32PM

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Michael Goldfarb
Senior Technical Director - Side Effects
265

My thoughts exactly, there is magic in the moment, this is filmmaking for robots almost, it makes it all about mind and less about heart and soul.

April 12, 2016 at 9:07PM, Edited April 12, 9:07PM

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Oliver Milne
Director/Cinematographer
96

I agree. This is opening yet another element to decision by committee.

I've NEVER had a shot that I've looked back and thought "hmm now I wish I'd focused on the other thing instead of this thing". Not once.

April 13, 2016 at 1:12AM

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Tools don't hinder creativity, but the artist's ignorance of the tools certainly will. Complex shots don't just magically come together, but they take a great understanding of everything that went into producing them. The art will come from the person who has a vision of how to utilize these tools successfully.

April 13, 2016 at 12:46PM

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LukeP
225

This is absolutely fascinating and groundbreaking from a technological standpoint. However, from a production standpoint... I can't see this catching on unless a few things happen.

First off, the money "saved" by production by not shooting on green screen stages or location will be MORE than lost on the storage capabilities and specialty camera operators that will be required to run this system. Because it's so new and cumbersome, I just don't see this as being a more cost-effective alternative to the current solutions -- yet.

The other issue they need to figure out is form factor. Has anybody else noticed that in the video, it's pretty evident that this camera is the size of a small car? It's like going back to the Technicolor days. Sure, you can change the shutter speed, frame rate and depth of field... but you can't even really MOVE the damn thing!

Will be curious to see where this goes and where it finds its niche in the VFX world - but for now, I don't really see the practicality of it...!

April 12, 2016 at 4:58PM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
1891

744 megapixels? Like 744k as in capturing 4k in Red, BM and such? How can you process all that data? Is like giving back the power to the studios when the celluloid era...

April 12, 2016 at 5:02PM

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Carlos Luis Pujol
Director of Photography
173

Actually 4K is 8megapixels and 744 mp is 40k

April 12, 2016 at 6:52PM, Edited April 12, 6:52PM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
785

Agree with what most everyone else is saying here. At first I thought, "Oh man, this is gonna be amazing." Next I thought, "Oh wait, what about the DP deciding and the director deciding to make those creative decisions organically on set or during pre-production." Next I thought, "Is this the beginning of the end for the 1st AC or 2nd AC?" After I finished watching, I was reminded that - like any other new technology or camera that is released or announced - in the end, this will be another option to add to already endless options we have as filmmakers. I don't think it's going to be a "X or Y killer". It's a new tool to allow us to tell the stories we want to tell in the way we need to tell them.

April 12, 2016 at 7:08PM

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Bryan Tosh
Director of Photography
604

"According to Lytro, the camera has the highest resolution censor ever designed."

I think you mean the other kind of censor, which is sensor.

April 12, 2016 at 7:46PM

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Gareth Ng
Cinematographer
479

Good catch on them misspelling the word sensor.

April 14, 2016 at 2:55PM

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I don't think "liberation" from the need to make creative decisions is the way we should be thinking about new tech.

April 12, 2016 at 7:55PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
1059

Lol 40K

April 12, 2016 at 9:41PM, Edited April 12, 9:41PM

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Brynn Chadwick
DIrector
81

40k 16bits RAW 300 times per second. Do you need me to slap your face? Because I need someone to do it to me.

April 12, 2016 at 10:16PM, Edited April 12, 10:17PM

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Edgar More
All
1028

This is not a cinema camera but a VFX camera. I am more interested on the technology, I thought the next thing would be vectors not Titanic pixels, shooting 8 mega pixels in raw it is already too heavy, 700+ is a godly amount of data. Still, my next project involves a lot of CG characters, so I'm up for this kind of news.

April 12, 2016 at 10:13PM

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Edgar More
All
1028

...did you miss the figure of 125.000 US $ for...RENTAL?

April 13, 2016 at 1:55AM

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That is not important. It is the technology behind it that exited me. This is the first camera of their kind, it is big and bulky, just like a old phone the size of a backpack. Now, we shoot movies with a cellphone. Just imagine all the incredible possibilities data like that gives you while editing one in a life time action scenes. Or marine life. What the hell, send it to the moon or whatever.

April 13, 2016 at 12:31PM

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Edgar More
All
1028

Lytro photo cameras were expensive when launched, but this week you can get one $200 new. In few years same will happen to the cinema cameras.

Lytro is the future. In some years iPhones can do the same.

April 13, 2016 at 3:51AM

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Don Nachos
Editor / Animator / Producer
170

This is for VFX. I don't think there's any director (or DOP) who would use this for every scene. It's perfect for compositing CGI into your scene; it's overkill for shooting a family drama.

Don't worry about it killing the creativity of a generation. The Lytro photo camera's didn't kill the DSLR and digital didn't kill film. Stop worrying, start dreaming.

April 13, 2016 at 5:58AM

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Auke-Jan Weening
Dissapointment
209

>digital didn't kill film

Except it did in still photography world. 1% of super large format professionals and nostalgic hipsters don't count. Lomography community is a parody of itself.

April 13, 2016 at 7:51AM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
879

I'm extremely skeptical. Coming from the photo world myself, I've seen Lytro's other products come and go with just as much hype behind them. They promise about this much, but they've never delivered a product worth using by any pro.

The CG in the footage they're showing looks really bad too, they should have really spent a lot more time on the movement of the objects. It's supposed to be showing off a 125k (per week? month? day?) camera, you'd think they would have pulled out all the stops.

April 13, 2016 at 9:52PM, Edited April 13, 9:52PM

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Jacob Floyd
Writer / Videographer
1141

Will it fit on my Ronin M?

Jokes aside, great piece of technology, I was blown away by their 1st gen consumer light field camera. Interactivity is a big engagement factor when it comes to media these days, so whilst it does pull away from the traditional artistic component of filmmaking, it can grab attention with the end user, in this case a vfx technician, but eventually that will be the audience!

April 14, 2016 at 1:25AM

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Nick Kelly
IBeAFilmDude
226

I hope this time their mouths write a check their ass can cash. Not like the lytro photo cameras which seemed awesome but turned out awful and useless.

April 14, 2016 at 4:26AM, Edited April 14, 4:26AM

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gandulf charpentier
director of pornography
781

Yet another fruit of civilization that begs the question of what is the aim of what we're actually doing.

April 14, 2016 at 10:54AM

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Patricijus Petrukonis
Cinematographer
95

Well as usual there are many negative and positive comments on new tech in this field. I'm not a writer but as a behind the camera person I still know no matter what you use to record. The story is what makes a film I don't care what you make it with. Without a good story it doesn't matter how good it looks or what it was made with. Personally I like having another tool to choose from.

April 14, 2016 at 3:03PM, Edited April 14, 3:03PM

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Seems like this is a 'proof of concept' tool in its current form. Too big and expensive for location (and much studio) use. Also, word was that the image quality of Lytro still cameras wasn't great. Will this have a quality different than both film and current digital? Can you alter the effective millimeter of the taking lens (compress or exaggerate depth, not just 'crop in')? And no mention of low light sensitivity... will this thing work at all for night exteriors, etc.? Too much still unknown.

April 14, 2016 at 4:15PM

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Scott Ressler
Director of Photography
310

I cringe at this and wonder... What would Kubrick say? What would Kurosawa...?

April 14, 2016 at 4:35PM

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Xavier Peypoch Clavé
Film student
81