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360 Designs To Unveil VR Products At NAB

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California-based live VR company 360 Designs will unveil new VR capture and live streaming products at this year's NAB.

The company, whose clients include Google, MTV, PBS and Red Bull, recently exhibited for the first time in Europe at BVE, drawing a large crowd.

"We had an incredible BVE, and it was nice to come back to our spiritual home in England," said Alx Klive, CEO 360 Designs, who started the company that became 360 Designs while living in London 10 years ago.

360 Designs has produced live VR broadcasts from the Oscars, SXSW and Copa America. Its Mini EYE cameras and live 360 stitching products are gaining popularity among VR production companies, DPs, and broadcasters, who appreciate the system's ease of integration with existing broadcast equipment. Mini EYE 3 uses standard 6G-SDI and provides ATEM remote control of camera settings from a vision mixer like the Blackmagic Production Studio series.

Klive, who first founded the company as a digital media business in 2004, moved the company to North America in 2011, and in 2013 began working full time on VR.

"I was fortunate to be involved in the first incarnation of VR back in the early 90s. I think many people involved then always knew one day it would come back. As a former camera operator I was frustrated with the cameras that were available, so I decided to build one I'd be happy to use on client jobs. Other people seemed to like them too."

The cameras have clearly struck a chord… with 360 Designs manufacturing bespoke camera systems for clients like The Mill, Google and AMD, for whom 360 Designs built a 28K stereo VR camera system recently, using 32 Blackmagic micro cameras. The camera was used on a major Bollywood production in India.

The company's live streaming VR technology is finding uses from the Oscars Red Carpet to the jungles of Peru and even the Hajj in Mecca.

Crews appreciate its reliability in hot conditions, a known issue for GoPro rigs and competitor Ozo, and the improved noise and dynamic range it delivers, compared to other cameras on the market.

"You are getting orders of magnitude higher (video) bitrate and quality compared to other solutions – 10 bit colour, fully uncompressed 6K recording, excellent low light capability, and a picture you can actually grade," said Klive.

The company is looking to make further inroads into the UK following its success at BVE, and is already working with a major UK sports client. Klive gave the keynote VR address at BVE, to a standing room-only crowd, and came away encouraged by the level of interest in virtual reality in the UK. "The level of interest in VR here is ramping up, and approaching that of the US."

Looking forward to NAB, and in what will be a major expansion for the company, Klive revealed some of the company's new plans, which include a new gen 2 VR camera and a professional 360 drone platform, that claims to be able to go live in broadcast quality from the sky.

360 Designs will be exhibiting this year at NAB 2017 in the VR Pavillion – Stand N917VR.

This article also features in the April 2017 edition of Broadcast Film & Video.

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