NAB 2018, the annual trade show of the National Association of Broadcasters, was held April 9-12 in Las Vegas. Show organizers were expecting more than 102,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibitors. A small section of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall was designated as the Immersive Storytelling Pavilion, where about twenty exhibitors were showing 360° and 180° cameras and related products. Camera vendors there included HumanEyes, Kodak PIXPRO, Insta360, YI Technology, Samsung, and Kandao. Here are a few highlights…
HumanEyes showed the Vuze+ 3D 360° VR camera, which was introduced at CES 2018. Improvements over the original Vuze camera include 4K 360° livestreaming, spatial audio capture, improved lenses, and a more rugged, IP65-certified case. The company also demonstrated HumanEyes Zone!, an online service that lets users build a VR website for editing and sharing immersive content, optimized for a variety of VR viewing devices.
Kandao showed its Obsidian professional 3D 360° VR cameras, designed with six sensors and lenses. The $2,499 ObsidianGo captures 8K photos and 4K VR video, while the $6,999 Obsidian R and Obsidian S cameras feature higher resolution and higher speed shooting, respectively.
Kandao also showed its Qoocam consumer-level camera, which can operate in 360° or 180° modes and features depth mapping for post-capture focus adjustment. Since NAB, Kandao has launched the Qoocam with a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $200,000 in two days. Suggested retail price is $399, with an estimated delivery date of August 2018.
Insta360 demonstrated recently updated software for its Insta360 ONE camera that includes editing tools such as professional-grade stabilization, point-of-view control, and object tracking. Shortly after NAB 2018, Insta360 announced the development of an extension for Adobe Premiere Pro CC video editing software to support its Insta360 Pro camera. The integration will support importing 360° content, editing before stitching, and low-resolution proxy editing for faster and better-quality results.
Elsewhere on the show floor, Z CAM showed its lineup of professional VR cameras ranging from the $880 Z CAM Z1 Pro to the $33,880 Z CAM V1 Pro, with its array of ten 4/3” sensors and 190° fisheye lenses. Also displayed was the $2,995 Z CAM K1 Pro, a 180° camera with two 4/3” sensors and 220° fisheye lenses, that has been VR180-certified by Google.
There were significantly fewer 360° and 180° camera vendors at NAB 2018 than at CES 2018 in January. This was to be expected, as there are not as many professional grade cameras that would appeal to NAB’s broadcasting and filmmaker audience. Even so, the ranks are thinning, as the Nokia OZO and Lytro Immerge have both assumed room temperature since NAB 2017.
We believe there will be a similar trend among consumer 360° camera vendors, as the category has not taken off as quickly as many had hoped. InfoTrends research shows ownership of 360° cameras at well under 10% of the general population. 180° cameras, which still capture immersive content, may be a simpler first step that will eventually lead some users to 360° cameras. Beyond that, the industry needs a champion in the form of an organization or cooperating vendors, to focus less (for now) on selling cameras and more on promoting the category and consumer applications.