Producing quality 360-degree video for Oculus Rift-like headsets is still really difficult to do, which is why high-tech porn company Huccio had the $250,000, seven camera rig above custom-designed for its venture into the world of immersive video.
You might remember Huccio as the pioneers who first brought us 4K porn a few years back. In a few weeks the company is launching a new subscription consisting of 360, 2K, and well as 4K adult content. It'll cost $20-40 per month depending on whether you pay up front or not. This isn't the first porn designed for virtual reality headsets, but it's way higher quality than anything that has existed before.
Now, the rig. It consists of seven Epic Red Dragon cameras outfitted with Sigma 8mm fisheye lenses that provide a super wide-angle of view.
Red Dragons aren't cheap: The brain alone for each camera costs at least $24,000, and to get one fully setup with monitors and lenses costs well over $30,000."We have so many Red Dragons even Peter Jackson is jealous," founder Toni Tsai told me.
The rig was designed by a freelance engineer who wished to remain anonymous, but in a lot of ways it resembles camera rigs that have been developed by the likes of 360 video startups like Jaunt VR. When it arrived about two weeks ago, Huccio immediately hired five actresses to perform what the company claims is the first 360-degree orgy.
Recording the footage is immensely challenging. Since the rig records in 360 degrees, only performers can be in the room while a scene is being filmed. It also makes common film techniques like lighting challenging because, again, the entire room is on camera. Huccio solved the lighting problem by basically illuminating the shots with ambient lights placed directly on the grid holding the cameras. The cinematographer also hid the lights back behind couches for a little extra light.
The Red Dragon shoots at crazy 6K resolution, so this camera rig chews through data at an absurd rate. At 60 frames per second, each camera records 260GB per half hour, which means the whole rig is plowing through 1.7TB every 30 minutes.
Once the footage is all recorded, it's assembled into a 360 package using both AutoPano and Video-Stitch, as well as good old Adobe After Effects. I can't embed a viewer, but the flattened globe looks like this:
Though the footage was technically shot at 6K resolution in every direction, the quality of playback is limited by the the screen you're using to watch it. The best headset you can get right now is a Samsung Gear VR loaded with a Samsun Galaxy Note 4, which only has a 2560x1440 display. It looks pretty good, but it's not quite enough to eliminate the so-called screen door effect. Imagine you're looking in at a living room house through a porch screen door. You can see everything through the screen, but you can still perceive the mesh.
So how's the porn? I'll leave that question to the connoisseurs. I will note that it's very weird to be completely encircled by naked people doing sexy things. It's like you are the center of the universe and the porn rotates around you. I've never participated in an orgy myself, but I can't imagine that's how it works.
Nevertheless, Tsai thinks that being the center of the screen and having different performances happening in all directions is part of what makes the porn a better value. "To be honest, this is probably the most interesting VR footage for us because watching boring scenery just doesn't cut it," he told me. "Having five amazing hot girls all around requires the viewer to watch it multiple times to get the full experience."