The amazing Z CAM V1 camera captures The Residents with the closest proximity and very low light.
I’ve been asked by quite a few people to share low light and extremely close proximity footage produced by the V1. So here ya go… and this is up there with the best close-proximity 3D/360 footage ever made. (This is because no other camera has such a high-quality dataset to use in the stitching process. The V1’s 35mm interaxial distance between its 10 cameras is twice as dense as any other commercially available camera out there, and Z CAM’s Wonderstitch uses physically-correct rendering techniques to produce stereoscopic imagery that feels way more natural than what comes out of any other camera… even when the proximity is insanely close.)
When Starr Sutherland, a video producer with the SF-based avant garde art collective The Residents recently asked me and David Lawrence to film a show at the Swedish American Hall for the Litquake festival, we jumped at the chance. I’ve been a Residents fan since I first came to San Francisco in the late 1970s, David’s been a lifelong fan also and it was a thrill to be asked! Because we wanted to easily (an unobtrusively) move the camera from spot to spot in front of the small stage I asked Steve Cooper, developer of the go.dingo rover platform, if he’d come up and help us out with a robotic solution. Steve was also a big Residents fan, not surprising since anyone who’s been around SF for awhile recognizes this band virtually creating the art-rock genre, having released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films and multiple pioneering CD-ROM projects and DVDs. They have undertaken seven major world tours and scored multiple films. These anonymous artists are legends.
We had to rise to the occasion and make something amazing, and although I was concerned about the low light levels due to the very few low-powered theatrical lighting instruments, the shoot went perfectly. The Z CAM V1 was operating at iso800 @ 1/30th of a second, not optimal but within a reasonable range. Of course in all theatrical lighting situations it’s critical to expose for the highlights and that forces the gain of the shadows down to extremely low. But with a noise reduction pass in Neat Video and finally a touch of Mocha’s BorisFX VR Sharpen tool to bring back any lost detail, the footage looks outstanding.
The project is now in the animation department where we’ll be replacing the audience with song-appropriate material. But that’s for another blog post sometime near the end of 2019. Animation takes a long time!
Here’s a 4Kx4K version of the 7Kx7K master file. This represents about 1/4 resolution of the master, and at 7K you can see details all the way down to the stitching in the costumes.
Note that these clips are not for the faint of heart because it’s very “dark” subject matter. The first clip is from a song called “Die! Die! Die!” and the in-your-face effect when the horned character gets less than 1’ away from the camera is INTENSE. You have been warned.
This experience is best viewed on a headset in the Oculus Go, HTC Vive, Samsung GearVR, Google Daydream or Oculus Rift headset using YoutubeVR. First, click on the above video link and save that to your 360 videos playlist. Then, once in YoutubeVR in your headset, you can find that playlist under your account. If you don’t have a headset you can order one here for only $200. If you just watch it in your browser you will not be able to visualize the quality of this clip correctly.