IMAX Is Working on a Virtual Reality Camera

     May 19, 2016


Virtual Reality has been touted as the “next great thing” for quite a few years now, but with emerging hardware like Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR vying to actually make VR massively marketable, we might soon see the technology make good on decades of promises. Though Google will be expanding its current Cardboard VR system to its Daydream platform (along with the company’s own hardware as well as third-party options), the tech giant will also be developing a VR camera for the cinematically inclined.

To that effect, it was announced today that Google is teaming up with IMAX to develop a “cinema-grade virtual reality camera,” which will allow filmmakers the freedom to create and deliver high-quality, 3D, 360-degree experiences to audiences everywhere. There’s a lot of tech expertise coming together here. Obviously the IMAX team will bring its camera knowledge to the game, with Google handling the VR side of things. Once companies of this size start throwing considerable cash at a technology, it usually isn’t terribly long before it makes its way to cinemas and living rooms.


Image via Google

Here’s the full press release for all the pertinent details:

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX) today announced at Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, that the companies are working to develop a cinema-grade virtual reality (VR) camera – the IMAX® VR camera – to enable today’s leading filmmakers and content creators to deliver the highest-quality 3D 360-degree content experiences to audiences worldwide.


IMAX’s team of engineers and camera specialists will work with Google to design the new high-resolution cameras from the ground up, leveraging IMAX’s best-in-class capture technology that has become an integral tool for today’s biggest and most visionary filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay, Anthony and Joe Russo, and Zack Snyder, among others. The camera, which will be built to utilize Jump, a platform for creating and viewing 3D 360 video, will deliver the highest-quality, most-immersive virtual reality content to consumers.


“For nearly 50 years, IMAX has pioneered moving image capture to allow filmmakers to produce the highest resolution images across 2D, 3D, film and digital formats, said IMAX Corp. CEO, Richard L. Gelfond.  “Today’s partnership with Google takes us into the next frontier of immersive experiences – virtual reality – and we look forward to working with them to provide our filmmaker partners and other content creators with a level of VR capture quality not yet seen in this space. VR marks an exciting area of opportunity for IMAX and we believe this agreement, which enables us to participate in image capture and content creation, is an important first step in our broader VR strategy.”



Image via Google

IMAX developed its first 2D 15perf / 65mm film camera in 1976. To this day, it remains the highest-resolution camera in the world – providing approximately 10x more resolution than 35mm film. IMAX has built out a suite of high-end capture devices – including recent developments of a lightweight 3D digital camera as well as a new cutting-edge 2D digital camera developed in partnership with ARRI.


“IMAX is known everywhere for their incredible immersive cinematography and sound, and we’re delighted to have them contribute their decades of experience in cameras and content to the Jump platform,” said Clay Bavor, VP, Virtual Reality at Google.


IMAX will also provide Google with exclusive access to pre-existing IMAX documentary content for conversion and use with Google’s VR technology.


Image via Warner Bros.


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