GoPro JUMP rig.

GoPro’s take on a JUMP-compatible 16-camera VR rig.

Today’s Google I/O keynote in San Francisco, California, concluded with an exciting announcement for video content creators. Beginning this summer, Google will launch a new platform called JUMP that should make it easier for people to record, stitch, and publish stereoscopic virtual reality video.

For Makers, the tastiest part of this announcement is Google’s plan to reveal the details of the camera geometry of the 16-camera rig required to record this content. These open plans will be available this summer, according to statements during the launch presentation by Google’s Clay Bavor.

“So, the rigs that we built include 16 camera modules, mounted in a circular array. And you can actually use off the shelf cameras for this if you want. And you can make the array out of basically any material. We made one out of 3D printed plastic. One out of machined metal. And for good measure of course we also made one out of cardboard, and it worked.

What’s critical is the actual geometry, and we spent a lot of time optimizing everything: the size of the rig, the number and placement of the cameras, their field of view, relative overlap, every last detail. And what we want to do is share what we’ve learned with everyone. So just like we did with Cardboard we’re going to be opening up the camera geometry with plans available to everyone this summer.” -Clay Bavor

Note the ability to pan around the video above using the navigation button in the upper left corner.

In the meantime, Google’s launch partner GoPro will soon begin selling a JUMP-compatible 360-degree camera array made for 16 GoPro cameras. Price for GoPro’s rig has yet to be announced, but the price of 16 GoPro cameras alone is enough to scare away most people.

Fortunately, the JUMP platform itself seems camera agnostic. GoPro’s rig seems to solve problems of synchronizing camera exposure and recording timing, but during the Google I/O demo, presenter Clay Bavor showed how Google’s Assembler software (which stitches the multiple camera angles together) can be used to smooth out many issues post-capture.

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While open, 3D-printable rigs for VR or stereoscopic video capture have been around for years, the challenges of processing and viewing content have prevented widespread adoption. The JUMP platform may finally connect the dots between recording, compiling, publishing and viewing, breaking VR video to the masses.

And while I’m excited to see the kind of videos professionals can capture using GoPro’s integrated JUMP system, I’m even more excited to see how the Maker community will create their own rigs and drive the price down for curious video makers.