With the release of Object Capture this fall, Apple is giving everyone with a Mac and a camera the means to create their own 3D objects.
But what about volumetric video, which currently requires multi-camera rigs like those at Microsoft's Mixed Reality Capture studios? One developer is shooting its shot at giving iPhone users similar powers.
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On Wednesday, 3D capture startup Volograms released the public beta of its Volu app for iOS. The app enables users to create rudimentary volumetric videos (which the company also calls volograms) and then view them in augmented reality and record the footage.
If you have an iPhone XR or recent model, you can install the beta of Volu through the TestFlight app. An Android version is in the works, with a waiting list available for those who submit their email address.
Capturing a vologram (a portmanteau of volumetric and hologram) is about as easy as recording a video from your smartphone's default camera, with the only difference being that you need to keep the subject of your video within the guide box. If you want to capture your own vologram, you'll need an assistant or, if you have a tripod or other means for propping up your phone, there's a five-second delayed timer.
Either way, after you capture the video, you'll have to wait a few minutes or longer for the file to process, as Volu applies a machine-learning algorithm to reconstruct a 3D hologram from your 2D video. In my experience, you'll want to put your iPhone down and check back later.
After processing is complete, you can download and view the vologram in your physical space as you would with any other ARKit. Moreover, your can apply filters (or superpowers) to give your vologram a more sci-fi look and then record video footage of the experience to share with others.
My vologram looks pretty good from the angle it was captured from. However, at other angles, the illusion falls apart a bit and you can see where Volu's technology is filling in the blanks for what the camera can't see. Your mileage may vary.
You can also view other volograms and videos featured on the app's home screen. This includes a vologram of founder Rafa Pagés, who shared a video of his 3D likeness via Twitter. As you are accessing his vologram, you'll also learn that his volumetric video was captured using 12 cameras, far more than the average late-model iPhone but less than most volumetric capture stages.
So, you should temper your own expectations. Volu may not deliver high-fidelity volumetric video captured from a single camera, but it's not a bad start and has the potential to serve as a fun AR magic trick to add a creative twist to your social media content.
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