F8 2017: Facebook Announces 360 Capture SDK To Record And Share VR Experiences With Cube Mapping

by Joe Durbin • April 19th, 2017

Today, Facebook is making it easier than ever for virtual reality users to share what they’re seeing inside those headsets.

360 Capture SDK rolls out today from the social media giant and with it a suite of new tools for capturing and sharing VR experiences. According to Facebook, this SDK will eschew the traditional stitching software for 360 images and videos in favor of a more robust processing solution known as cube mapping.

According to Facebook, cube mapping allows users to “maintain a high-quality image for people viewing the VR capture.”

The 360 capture SDK is also reportedly able to “capture real-time 360 video at resolutions as high as 4K. By capturing the cube map directly, the raw source quality is higher than in the stitching method, where the cube map is the final output and loses quality from the stages of conversion.”

Cube mapping will reportedly increase the accessibility, quality and speed of the renders created using the 360 Capture SDK. A Facebook blog post posted today describes these benefits in greater detail:

  • Accessibility: People no longer need a supercomputer to capture their VR experience. Because cube mapping requires lower computing power to capture 360 content, 360 Capture SDK works on baseline recommended hardware for VR without compromising the experience (i.e. it maintains the 90 FPS requirement for VR). Developers will also find the SDK plugin to be accessible, as it’s compatible with multiple game engines, like Unity and Unreal, and even native engines.
  • Quality: We maintain a high-quality experience for people viewing captured 360 content in VR or on News Feed. For example, the minimum resolution for a quality viewing experience on News Feed is 1080p, and for VR viewing is 1440p; our SDK is capable of capturing both resolutions, and in fact captures up to 4k for VR.
  • Speed: We maintain 90 frames per second (FPS) performance on virtual reality systems, like Rift, while capturing VR quality 360 video at 30 FPS in only one second.

360 SDK captures can be posted directly to a Facebook newsfeed for easy sharing and mass dissemination. They can also be viewed by others inside a VR headset of their own. They will also now be accessible inside the brand new social VR experience, Facebook Spaces.

The SDK is available today online via Github.

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