Insta360, the Shenzhen-based company specializing in 360° camera technology, has released a new and impressive 4k model. It’s called “ONE” – and the company describes it as a “breakthrough.”
Considering the feature set and the retail price of $299.90 USD, it’s hard to argue with that.
“We set out to make the easiest-to-use, most-versatile 360 camera in the world, and the ONE is the result of those efforts,” said JK Liu, CEO and founder of Insta360. “The ONE isn’t just a step forward for 360 videography. With its unique FreeCapture technology, it stands to change the way we think about cameras in general.”
Prior to the product’s launch, the company teased the impending release with a couple of videos that showcased some pretty amazing footage:
The first video, we guessed (as did many others) involved swinging the camera around while shooting at a high frame rate. But just when we felt we had that one nailed, the company released a second video just a few days ago, showing a seemingly impossible shot: The perspective on a wing-suit flyer changes mid-flight. What???
Well, today the wraps came off the camera, its specifications, and its features. And, though we haven’t seen ONE in person yet, we’d have to agree this camera has some truly innovative features.
This is how they did the effect in the cool wing-suit video. The company describes the FreeCapture technology feature as ‘Shoot First, Point Later.’ And that’s pretty much exactly what it means.
Using the ONE, you capture your 360 video as per usual in 4k resolution. Let’s say, as in the wing-suit video, you have it fixed to the helmet with a selfie stick. First thing that happens? The software makes that selfie stick disappear from the shot. Cool, yes. But the real magic is what you can do *after* capturing the video and downloading it to your phone. (Well, the really cool magic is that we live in age of wing-suits. But that’s another story.)
“Shoot” a Standard Video from WITHIN Your #360
While screening the content you’ve captured, you can decide what part of the 360 sphere you want the video to focus on by simply moving your phone in space during playback. In doing so, you’re actually editing what will be seen in a new, standard (non-360°) 1080p video. It’s like controlling a new camera inside your sphere; a process that would have previously required pretty serious post-production. Now it’s available simply by watching your screen and moving your phone.
Let’s say that one more time: Shoot a 360° video in 4k. Download it to your phone. Play it back, but use your smartphone to shoot what you want inside of it, thus creating a *standard* 1080p video that takes the viewer to any perspective you want within that original sphere.
“Leveraging a phone’s onboard gyroscope, FreeCapture lets users simply peer into the original 360 scene using their phone display as a viewfinder. Whatever they see as they point their phone into the original experience is what they’ll capture in a fixed-frame video. In other words, users can stand in the present moment while they film a past experience – using exactly the same hand motions they would always use to capture a video on their phone,” explains Insta360’s news release.
And that, says the company, is very, very new:
“Never before has this editing technique been achievable on a phone, and it opens the door on a new era in videography, allowing anybody – from a journalist to an outdoor adventurer – to effectively act as their own camera crew.”
Here’s a release video that shows pretty much the full feature set:
That’s pretty crazy, and our hats are off to A) the people at Insta360 who first had the idea, and B) the people who were smart enough to write the code to execute this. Because, based on this snippet, it’s pretty amazing. And, yeah, we’d call it kind of a breakthrough.
(By the way, FreeCapture also gives you the freedom to move from standard shots into those unique 360° perspectives such as “tiny planet” and “rabbit hole.”)
And it’s rubberized protective case? It also serves as a monopod.
The ONE packs in another slick editing feature. With SmartTrack, the user creates their 360° video, but then selects a subject they’d like to remain the centre of attention in a standard video. Using the companion app, a new 1080p fixed frame video is created where that subject remains in the spotlight.
Yup, that first video teaser *was* created by spinning the camera with a selfie stick. Whether you use the purpose-built stick or string, the software erases the tether. And while it shoots at 120 fps, an algorithm takes that a step further and interpolates the missing data between frames, ultimately producing a 240 fps video – which gives it that sick, slick, slow-mo bullet-time effect.
In terms of specs, here’s what we know so far:
- 4K Resolution (3840×1920@30fps, 2560×1280@60fps)
- 24 MP stills (6912 x 3456); HDR mode and supports RAW format
- Onboard gyroscope for six-axis image stabilization (The Insta360 release says this feature will be particularly useful for stabilizing what would have been rough-and-tumble videos)
- Built-in, threaded 1/4″ socket for mounting on helmets, tripods, drones, etc.
- Optional waterproof housing with IP68 (Ingress Protection) rating for depths up to 30 metres
- Optional purpose-built selfie stick and Bluetooth remote control
What’s more, you can take even greater creative control via manual settings. Insta360 says exposure, ISO, shutter speed, white balance and more on the ONE can be set by the user.
Finally, the ONE is versatile: It can be used as a handheld standalone, operated remotely via Bluetooth, or can be connected directly to a smartphone’s charging port (which is the way the awesome Insta360 Air works). The iPhone version is available right now – with the Android version on the way.
We’ve been very impressed with the quality of the Insta360 products we’ve seen so far, including the Insta360 Pro – which we were able to lust after during the NABShow. Beyond the products, however, the company does a fantastic job of engaging with its users. Insta360’s Facebook group feels almost like a group of friends – with company engineers and spokespeople happily helping consumers with technical questions.
That’s a good sign. And, if their track record holds true, the ONE will likely be a good product.
Seriously, we can’t wait to try ONE and report back.
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