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.
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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.
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.