Nokia Enters Virtual Reality Business, Debuts 360-Degree Camera for Professionals

360_Camera_Ball_Nokia - H 2015
Courtesy of Nokia Technologies

360_Camera_Ball_Nokia - H 2015

Starting its next chapter, Nokia Technologies is relaunching with a focus on enabling virtual reality content creation. It unveiled its first product, a 360-degree 3D VR camera designed for professional filmmakers, Tuesday evening at the Hudson Loft in downtown Los Angeles, while attracting many from Hollywood's production community.

"VR is one of our core strategies," Nokia Technologies' president Ramzi Haidamus told The Hollywood Reporter. "We have been exploring what markets are being disrupted and matching them with some of our advanced projects. This hit perfectly from a timing perspective."

Many VR camera systems to date used rigs that hold multiple consumer cameras, which has been a frustration for some filmmakers. The Nokia camera, dubbed OZO, is a sleek system with eight lenses and each sensor captures a 2048 x 2048 (2K x 2K) resolution image. It also has eight microphones, to create spacial audio to match the immersive 360-degree imagery (Haidamus, who happens to be a Dolby veteran, gave this particularly high marks). Via related software, the camera also accommodates real-time playback and simple editing.

Overall, execs said they are aiming to creating a familiar workflow for professional filmmakers. The company also plans further development to enable live broadcasting to VR head sets.

The camera is still in development, and Nokia is looking to test it and generate feedback with professional filmmakers.

Some of the test content shown at the launch event was created by Nokia's production/development partner Steve Schklair, president of 3D company 3Ality, and his newly launched new VR production company dubbed 3mersive.

Those who have offered expertise during the development process also include industry vets Sid Ganis, a past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (who produced one of the Nokia test clips, and also had a cameo in it); and Fox futurist Ted Schilowitz.

Nokia intends to partner with additional companies to create a full production system. During the launch event, it announced its first partnership, with Jaunt Studios, which will offer the camera at its studio and help develop its production workflow.

With companies such as Samsung, Sony HTC and Facebook's Oculus (which debuted a new 3D short, Henry, earlier on Tuesday) entering the market for VR head sets, a November 2014 report by Sophic Capital projects that VR could become a $7 billion market by 2018.