Will we want to socialize in virtual reality? Maybe. Will we want to watch musicians and comedians performing for our entertainment? That’s a somewhat easier sell.
Several companies — including Samsung, Google and Nokia — are making 360-degree cameras that point outward in all directions, letting viewers look wherever they like. But rowing the opposite direction is a New Zealand-based startup, 8i. It’s pointing a bunch of off-the-shelf cameras at a subject, and turning that subject into a 3-D character.
Take this video of the popular Viner Logan Paul. He’s still performing for the camera, but by mousing around the embedded video, you can revolve around him and his parrot, seeing several angles that couldn’t be captured by a single camera:
The company calls this a “3-D light field,” which is amazingly not a term coined by “Star Trek,” even though it totally sounds like it could have been. Light-field tech is a big deal in VR circles, because it points toward a future where live-action video can behave like CGI; in other words, you can be wearing a VR headset such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, walk around Paul (or one of the other performers 8i has filmed for its debut) and feel like you’re getting a private show.
CEO Linc Gasking said he and his team want anybody anywhere to be able to make this sort of video and run it through 8i’s platform, though the more cameras they have, the better the end result will look. And for the time being, the company is producing the videos itself, at studios in Los Angeles and Wellington, N.Z., that have around 20 cameras each.
“We’re saying, come invent this new medium,” Gasking said. “Come define it. New, young content creators are finally throwing away the confines of that square box everyone’s been in for so long.”
Viva la revolution? Like every other virtual reality startup, 8i is betting on VR being accepted by the mainstream — but maybe young stars like Paul will nudge
snake people millennials into picking up a headset.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.