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During a launch event at the L.A. Live Event Deck on Monday, Nokia Technologies revealed that its developing OZO professional 360-degree 3D virtual reality camera will be available early next year for $60,000.
Hollywood is a big target, and Nokia’s event attracted an estimated 500 guests, including filmmakers who have already tested or used one of roughly a dozen OZO prototypes cameras that are already circulating. (Nokia Technologies president Ramzi Haidamus calls the camera “80 percent” finished, because the company intends to respond to customer feedback.)
Among the event guests, director Randal Kleiser told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s been using one of the cameras to shoot a 12-episode VR series based on his Defrost pilot. Producer and AMPAS past president Sid Ganis made a test short with the camera and plans to use it again, while New Deal Studios CEO Shannon Gans said her company gave the OZO a test drive on a short title Mutiny. The Virtual Reality Company, whose partners include Maleficent director Robert Stromberg, already employed the camera for live concert events. Haidamus told THR that Nokia is talking with most of the major Hollywood Studios, including Fox, whose Fox Sports has already tested OZO.
With VR goggles such as Oculus Rift scheduled to come to market in early 2016, next year is expected to be a big year for VR. Haidamus agrees, though he thinks mass consumption is roughly three years away. Likening this early stage of VR to early motion pictures, Haidamus said “we’re at The Arrival of the Train. The question is what will be the Citizen Kane.”
In addition to narrative filmmaking, Nokia is also experimenting with live events, news and capturing unique experiences (for instance the camera has already been tested by NASA.). Due to the price point, Haidamus said he expects production rental houses to be a “significant market for us.”
Several companies have already thrown their hats in the VR camera arena. Nokia is positioning OZO for professional markets; it uses eight synchronized 2K x 2K sensors, eight mics for “spatial” audio, and weighs 9.3 pounds including the battery. (The battery and memory comes in a single cartridge, to making wireless operations (i.e. mounted on a drone) “extremely easy.”
Of the most notable features aimed at Hollywood, Haidamus emphasized that OZO can handle live 3D monitoring in real time. “With OZO you can check your work instantly. That’s very unique,” he claimed.
That was key for aforementioned director Kleiser, who pointed out that since VR involves shooting 360 degrees, a director can’t be “on set” without being in the shot. “You can see live 3D while you are shooting, without being on set,” enthused Kleiser of working with the OZO.
Demonstrating the camera’s ability to handle live video, during the launch event Nokia showed live VR of Best Coast, from the roof of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood.
Asked if the red carpet of the upcoming Academy Awards is a target, Haidamus acknowledged that there have been discussions, adding, “I would love to see us at the Academy Awards for people who have only dreamed of getting a ticket.”
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