Lytro cameras already allow us to do something that, while (apparently) scientifically possible, seems to invoke more Gandalf than optical physics -- which is to manipulate focus, dynamically and after the fact. By sampling the whole 'light field' within the field of view, they are truly fascinating iterations of the tools we use daily. This has some pretty interesting implications for the future of photography, not to mention videography -- but Lytro isn't stopping there. In fact, you can not only interactively shift your focal point, as you could before - but you can now, to an extent, alter the actual perspective of your shot as well, in real time -- not to mention apply filters which also react in line with the company's "living picture" aesthetic. For a demo video and some interactive examples, read on.
Now, clearly the company is on to something rather novel here -- I mean, this is literally taking the way we understand how to physically actualize imagery, shaking that to its core, and rebuilding it from the ground up. While it may be true that certain technological constraints inherent here take us back quite a ways in terms of the resolution we've (rather greedily, perhaps) come to expect, this stuff is only going to get better, higher res, and more affordable. The gravity this could exert upon the social photo-sharing crowd is enormous, and I wouldn't lightly discount that demographic -- because anyone can share and appreciate even a low-res, spatially-manipulable photograph, especially of a loved one.
Here are some living, breathing examples of Lytro's latest and most major innovation -- click at any point to change focus, click-and-hold to engage the new perspective shift ability:
In addition to the perspective shift ability, Lytro has also brought a rather organic filters option, which like any other photograph sampled by its system, has the ability to be retroactively face-lifted (again, click to engage the mysticism) :
This type of thinking in technology clearly could have serious affects on the way we think of our visual arts, especially if something like this is able to be implemented in motion -- and from the sounds of things, this is also a possibility -- even despite the likely crippling data throughput such an option would bare with it. Now, this is not (and would never be) to say that any sort of technology could take the place of solid, good old classic storytelling prowess. It is to say, however, that technology may be able to push the visual arts forward in its own right, and give us the ability to express things in a new way. It's just an option, and again, it will never fill the storytelling well in and of itself -- but the visual flavors technology can add to our arsenal is undeniable, and I think, something that should be embraced.
What do you think about this type of visual manipulability, and the impact it could have on the way in which we visually tell our stories? Though it may be quite a ways off from being used practically in a motion picture context, do you think it may become something of a tool for filmmakers to do what we do?
Link: Lytro Light Field Camera
[via The Verge]