Virtual Vikings: how volumetric capture is making VR feel real

Virtual Vikings: how volumetric capture is making VR feel real


There's never been a better time to be a VR enthusiast. With the increased presence of standalone, wireless headsets, plus the advanced motion tracking and screen resolutions to make VR experiences vaguely in sync with our body’s own senses, we’re now reaching a point where VR simulations are starting to feel, if not real, certainly more realistic than they used to be.

We’re still far from the Matrix, however. Developers are still trying to get around basic physical issues like motion sickness and eye strain, while the kinds of human character models generated for VR game engines – or any game engine, for that matter – are anything but lifelike.

With volumetric capture, though, that might start to change.

I made a visit to Dimension, a VR production studio working with the new video capture technology, to find out how a simulation of a Viking battle ship could signal the future of interactive VR experiences. 

Volumetric capture is a relatively new video capture technology for recreating people and objects in virtual reality. Patented by Microsoft, with only two studios currently licensing the technology worldwide – Dimension being one of them – it has the potential to change the level of immersion and emotional engagement we get from VR.

Instead of using a 360-degree camera that snaps real-life footage in all directions, or recreating an entire scene in a computer physics engine, volumetric capture uses a vast array of cameras in a dedicated capture studio – recording from multiple angles to capture an incredible amount of detail, when is then scanned into a CGI environment.

Dimension’s capture stage has 106 individual cameras (53 RGB, 53 infra-red) as well as eight directional microphones to capture audio in real-time, instead of adding in separately in post-production. The full array is able to capture over 10GB of detail per second, at 30 frames per second – or 20GB/s at 60 frames per second. Read more 




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