LYTRO Cinema – The Future of Cinematography is Computational

April 11th, 2016
LYTRO Cinema - The Future of Cinematography is Computational

lytro cinema camera

The future of cinematography is computational. It’s a bold statement to make, but one that I believe is inevitable. Lytro Cinema is a vision of this future.

Lytro is best known for bringing to market the world’s first Light Field cameras, allowing image focus and depth of field to be changed in post. The fact of the matter is focussing or refocussing an image after the fact is barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of Light Field technology. By capturing not only the traditional chroma and luminance information from a scene but also the direction and angle of light reflecting from every object and surface, it is possible to generate an entire 3D volumetric depth map of a live action environment.  This makes integration with VFX and CG elements easier and more comprehensive than ever before.

Last week Jason Rosenthal, CEO of Lytro wrote an interesting article; Why I Lit Up Lytro and Scrapped the Strategy as CEO, published on PetaPixel explaining the reasons for the company’s recent change in direction away from consumer cameras, instead investing their technology in live action cinematic VR.

I’m sure you’ll agree it represents a very smart move on behalf of Lytro, just as VR is exploding into the mainstream.

Lytro Cinema

Lytro has now officially launched Lytro Cinema, comprising a camera, server array, and software for editing the light field data. According to Lytro in the company’s latest press release; “The breakthrough capture system enables the complete virtualization of the live action camera — transforming creative camera controls from fixed on set decisions to computational post-production processes — and allows for historically impossible shots.”

“We are in the early innings of a generational shift from a legacy 2D video world to a 3D volumetric Light Field world,” said Jason Rosenthal, CEO of Lytro. “Lytro Cinema represents a significant step in that evolution. We are excited to help usher in a new era of cinema technology that allows for a broader creative palette than has ever existed before.”

The volume of data that Lytro Cinema captures is staggering.

  • The highest resolution video sensor ever designed, 755 RAW megapixels at up to 300 FPS
  • Up to 16 stops of dynamic range and wide color gamut
  • Integrated high-resolution active scanning

Capture Environment and Action, Frame and Focus Later

Lytro Cinema captures the entire light field in high resolution creating a Light Field Master. A Light Field Master represents an enormous amount of 3D volumetric data, describing almost every aspect of the scene allowing technical aspects that are traditionally set by camera hardware such as frame rate and shutter angle to be decided and rendered computationally in post. Content can be rendered for immersive VR and in multiple traditional delivery formats — including IMAX®, RealD® and traditional cinema and broadcast.

LYTRO Cinema depth

Light Field data allows objects to be perfectly isolated in post by depth without a traditional chroma key, revolutionizing CG and VFX integration. It also allows focus and depth of field to be decided in post rather than permanently on set.

Needless to say the role of the cinematographer in the traditional sense, not to mention focus puller, as well as countless other roles, are completely redefined as much as the hardware itself. The relationship between what happens on set, and what occurs in post becomes more integrated than ever.

We will no longer be “fixing” anything in post; we’ll be capturing the live action environment on set and doing most of the “shooting” after the fact.

Too Good To Be True?

While the Light Field technology behind the Lytro Cinema camera and system as described is very real… in theory, and the overall vision Lytro has presented does portray the theoretical potential, many of the realities of implementing the technology as claimed push the very boundaries of what may be possible today. Will the glossy press images and extreme specifications claimed of this revolutionary future make a full and complete transformation into actual hardware as advertised?

I stand by my opening statement. I believe the future of cinematography is computational, and certainly Lytro Cinema is a vision of this future. However, time will tell if Lytro Cinema can deliver this glorious vision.

If you are heading out to NAB, be sure to check it out for yourself.

“Life” the first short produced with Lytro Cinema in association with The Virtual Reality Company (VRC) will premiere at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference on Tuesday, April 19 at 4 p.m. PT at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Room S222. “Life” was directed by Academy Award winner Robert Stromberg, Chief Creative Officer at VRC and shot by David Stump, Chief Imaging Scientist at VRC.

Learn more about Lytro Cinema activities during the 2016 NAB Show and get a behind-the-scenes look on the set of “Life” at www.lytro.com/nab2016.

Lytro Cinema will be available for production in Q3 2016 to exclusive partners on a subscription basis. For more information on Lytro Cinema, visit www.lytro.com/cinema.

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Elad Segoli
Elad Segoli
GuestApril 11th, 2016

Gil Ramon Yaniv Barak Vasily Schpraga Omri Barzilai

Vasily Schpraga
Vasily Schpraga
GuestApril 11th, 2016

looks like plastic to me

Yaniv Barak
Yaniv Barak
GuestApril 11th, 2016

מסכים

 Yves Soglo
Yves Soglo
MemberApril 11th, 2016

This will give a whole new meaning to the expression: ”we can fix it in post”

Nitsan Simantov
Nitsan Simantov
MemberApril 12th, 2016

whoa!

Eric Bogan
Eric Bogan
MemberApril 12th, 2016

Sorry, I don’t get it! Spend all your time in an editing suite making decisions on the shot. I don’t think I will be interested in the movies made with this system. There is very little being made now I find of any interest. Too much CGI, FX, etc.. and not much story of interest.

On top of it looks like the camera is as big as those monster TV cameras, plus server. What does this cost. what does it take to run it (a server admin)?

Interesting to read about but that is about it.

Don Whitmore
MemberApril 12th, 2016

Said everyone about the first computers….
See you in 10 years, when we can’t imagine why we would ever do it the old way.

Eric Bogan
Eric Bogan
MemberApril 12th, 2016

No, everyone did not say that about computers or (as I think you meant) PC (personal computers). I have been playing with and working with computers since collage (the early 70s). And know many who got and understood (and work with PCs) what a PC could do.

Maybe you will feel that way in 10 years but I will not.

Crimson Son
Crimson Son
MemberApril 12th, 2016

Let me correct him, said every one about file based cameras. When Red, Viper, etc. all came out there was a big resistance and one of the main reason was the added technical complexity it applied on set. Color space, file management, drives, etc. Many DPs thought that it would hamper production. Like any disruptive technology it (file based workflow) it does. However the upside became apparent and valuable enough that we learn to develop the tools further and minimize the downside.

Directors are going to demand it. This or variation of it will happen.

William Malone
MemberApril 12th, 2016

Directors will demand it… until they figure out that their films will now be completely in the hands of studio executives to re-cut re-shoot and change in any way they see fit.

 the SUBVERSIVE
the SUBVERSIVE
MemberApril 12th, 2016

This type of application that I envisioned when I first saw that weird Lytro camera, I didn’t imagine it in this scale because I was thinking about myself as a consumer, but giving up consumer market and going directly to this is a much bigger leap – as this was actually possible. Maybe a good few years from now this might be available to consumers – even more because computers and hardware also have a lot of catch up to do for this to work.

Paul Kops
Paul Kops
GuestApril 12th, 2016

Ja gezien. Interessant. Wel bulky zeg. Lijkt wel een studio camera. Ben benieuwd naar de werkwijze.

Ben Költringer
Ben Költringer
GuestApril 12th, 2016

“fix it in post” haha :D

Sascha Reinhardt
Sascha Reinhardt
GuestApril 12th, 2016

Haha. Ja man sieht jeden Tag was dabei rauskommt wenn sogenannte “Cutter” das Material von selbigen “Kameraleuten” “verarbeiten

Tim Naylor
MemberApril 12th, 2016

Lighter – another reason to leave cinematography and focus on directing and writing. The current state of technical obsession has left us with a glut of infantile comic book movies and soulless CGI. I rarely go to the movies these days because the stories and actors are so piss poor. How this relates to Lytro? It’s heralded and may very well be the “next big thing”, but can someone just tell a simple compelling story? Even if you shot it on Fisher Price Pixel Vision that would mean so much more to the audience then Lytro.

The potential benefits of Lytro seem obvious. They talk about more creative control, though I find life in a post suite as opposed to on location hardly inspiring. Such a sedentary world is enough to make me go to cooking school. It’ll usher in a wave of creatives who prefer a job planted on their ass in front of a screen. These are far different beasts than those who rather have a physical life. This will be reflected for better or worse in the final product. The “on set” cinematographer will be more a tech whose job is just to get it as wide as possible and still make resolution specs. Careful composition and re-frames will be an afterthought in post. There may even be two directors. One for the talent and one who’s directs the post room.

When computational power enables Lytro to be viable, what’ll drive it even more that has production heads salivating is the thought of getting rid of most the crew. Like going form printing press to word processor, jobs will be lost, production heads will get new 3rd and 4th homes and the audience won’t detect a damn bit of difference in the stories being told.

Anonymous
Anonymous
GuestApril 13th, 2016

Basically they are creating a system that works like the human eye and brain folks. This is a wonderful thing. It will be adopted refined and made more and more efficient. It will enhance our artistic and creative process. There is nothing to fear save fear itself. Be open to the future it is here

Adrian Cutler
Adrian Cutler
GuestApril 13th, 2016

thats a lot of data to store …..

Vaalarivan Kumar Ayya
MemberApril 13th, 2016

Dear Chezhiyan…!
Vanakkam…!
How are you…?
I instantly happened to go through the article about the prospectively computational Lytro Kinema of Richard Lackey by way of your goodness..!
Thank you very much for your nice representation…!
Take care…!
Allthe best…!

 bjoern divell
bjoern divell
MemberApril 18th, 2016

As a VFX artist for over 10years I want to give you a head-sup on how much impact this will have.
If this technology works, and I mean works in the field, not just for some shortfilms. Then it will spread like a wildfire. And there will be absolutly no director in the world, no matter how famous he is, that will have a “shit” to say with what camera he can film or not. Same goes for the DP.
Why? You think this is crazy? well:
Because, if you can cut out off your production the Cost for Rotoscoping, Keying, and Matchmoving. Then you are cutting out Millions! Allot of millions. Essentially this Camera becomes like tax incentives in it self.

I personally don’t like this effect of film-making. BEcause I like the imperfect image. For me it adds something to the cinema.

Piyush Sharma
MemberApril 19th, 2016

i believe the camera’s real power will unfold in photo realistic video games .where we can choose from which angle we want to see things from . sit will give new meaning to 360 degree cinema . where every video we will capture will be view able from various angles and places .. or imagine a story of house where audience can roam around and see story going on at different places ..or in different room .almost in real time . i guess theater will find new meaning ..?

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