RED Digital Cinema Is Building Facebook’s Reality Camera

by Ian Hamilton • May 1st, 2018

A new partnership between RED Digital Cinema and Facebook aims to deliver a revolutionary new kind of camera system that can capture reality.

RED’s digital cameras (like the one pictured above) helped change the way movies were made by playing a key part in the switch-over from using film to completely digital production. Starting with blockbusters like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, RED’s cameras lowered production costs while capturing the detail required by some of the world’s most discerning directors.

Over the last few years Facebook started exploring more immersive camera technologies, and last year revealed an effort to create a system that can capture reality with six degrees of freedom — that is, the ability to move your head around or even lean to see a scene from any angle.

So the team-up aims to take RED’s image quality “with over 16-stops of dynamic range and high spatial resolution” and combine it with “Facebook depth estimation technology” and then put together a workflow that can make it easier for directors to capture immersive content.

“The imagery is clean — it makes the depth reconstruction work better,” said Brian Cabral, Director of Engineering at Facebook, in explaining why they teamed up with RED.

RED is notably also developing a holographic phone, but we don’t have any idea how this camera system might be used in conjunction with that device.

Some of the world’s largest tech companies, including Google and Microsoft, have been building up reality capture teams and exploring a variety of partnerships over the last few years to make higher quality cameras and easier-to-use production pipelines. Many of those early efforts have struggled to find a robust market for either the cameras or the imperfect content most of them produce. Could this RED and Facebook partnership be the one that finally succeeds?

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What's your reaction?
  • SendsV8

    Well, they’re not exactly giving away all that much with that video short.

    I don’t think algorithmic depth estimation will work all that well, although it will give another tool to videographers, and save some production costs in certain limited circumstances to directors wanting to add another tool for editing shots.

    The really useful advancement of 3D depth capture will be an evolution of Google’s light-field tech which captures more than just some depth info, but the path of light rays. In fact, it would be pretty cool for RED to shrink the bulky and awkward lightfield camera to something much more practical.

    Right now the LF camera is only good for stills where the subject isn’t moving for many seconds, but it’s not hard to see the tech improve. The results even still are pretty mind blowing.

  • CLPettigrew

    Vague article that matches a vague youtube video. There’s no indication of what this product would do, or why anyone would care.