Google is pushing heavily into the world of 360-degree photos and videos — Google Street View now has its own iOS and Android app, and YouTube's virtual reality support is developing in leaps and bounds. To get enough 360-degree video content out there, though, you have to have the appropriate tools in the hands of the appropriate people. The GoPro Odyssey is a 16-Hero camera rig that shortcuts the multi-camera process of capturing the immersive video format, and if you have a large enough chequebook you can sign up to own one yourself.
We first saw the GoPro Odyssey at Google I/O 2015, alongside the announcement of a bunch of virtual reality updates for YouTube. Google's virtual reality platform is called Jump, and not unlike the Odyssey the Google prototype used 16 GoPros mounted vertically in a ring, with overlapping video frames and smart software that took the outputs and stitched it all together into a single seamlessly viewable file compatible with YouTube.
Here's an example of what the GoPro Odyssey can film — a quick two-minute snapshot of New York City in 4K. YouTube is adding full virtual reality support later in the year, but this video is a surprisingly good teaser. Here's a tip — watch it on your smartphone, hit full-screen and use your phone's accelerometer to move around and look above and below.
The real potential of virtual reality, 360-degree-viewable video comes from the combination of YouTube and VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and Google's own cutrate Cardboard; strapping a smartphone to your face and using it to look around at the world is a lot more immersive than clicking and dragging on a computer screen.
The GoPro Odyssey is comprised of 16 Hero4 Black cameras installed in a custom-built case by Pelican. Each is hooked up to a battery-boosting BacPac with syncing cables, and a central microphone capturing omnidirectional audio. Filmmaking professionals can now apply to participate in GoPro's limited Odyssey program and purchase a rig; the combination of 360-degree mount and 16 GoPro Hero 4s will set you back US$15,000. [GoPro]