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Panasonic develops ultra-wide 64:9 video system


August 26, 2013

The system incorporates four of Panasonic’s AW-HE120 16:9 cameras

The system incorporates four of Panasonic’s AW-HE120 16:9 cameras

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You think that the regular HD video aspect ratio of 16:9 is good enough? Ha! Panasonic will go you one better – in fact, it’ll go four times better. The electronics manufacturer has developed a 64:9 Ultra-Wide Camera System. With its 160-degree horizontal field of view, it can capture an entire sports field in one 720p image, in which all of players are still clearly visible.

Instead of one camera with a crazy-wide lens, the system incorporates four of Panasonic’s AW-HE120 16:9 cameras. These are mounted together in a single 40-kg (88-lb) rig, and use visual cues to automatically pan, tilt and zoom, in order to follow the action.

They all move in unison (not unlike the cameras used in NHK’s bullet time video system), each camera’s shot picking up at the edge of where one of its neighbors’ shots leaves off. Software is used to “seamlessly” stitch the four cameras’ shots together in real time, side-by-side, to form one really wide picture. That picture is viewed on linked 16:9 screens.

Before you start looking forward to Ultra-Wide movies, however, take note that the technology is intended more for things like sports coaching analysis. It should be released commercially in November, with its price being revealed sometime before that. In the meantime, if you happen to be at Australia’s Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre this Tuesday through Thursday, you can see it for yourself at the Integrate 2013 electronics show.

Source: Panasonic

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Maybe more like 42:9 and most certainly less then 720 pixels high.

First of all, overlap. You need about 30% overlap between images in order to get some decent stitching. So you can't simply multiply 16 x 4 cameras and quote 64:9

But it get's worse. In order to get the required overlap each camera needs to have at least a 60 degree Horizontal Field of View (HFOV) in order to produce a 160 degree total HFOV. that means that the image of each camera will look like a barrel once the image is corrected and ready for stitching. Once the images are joined the top and bottom edges need to be tripped off leaving about 70% of the original height in pixels. So your 720p is more like 480p

I know this because it is what I do. http://youtu.be/Zy5Uk9jsUuA

Image stitching involves image correction from barrel shape to straight.

Paul van Dinther

Here's a video James Mathers, of The Digital Cinema Society, that was shot during NAB 2013 at the Panny booth. They showed us the pictures spliced together usuing this new system on 4 thin bezel monitors. http://www.studiodaily.com/2013/04/nab-2013-video-panasonic/#ooid=lrNzh4YTpdDHgx8kowb3IHQBcm2HJrw2

Christopher Knell

@Paul van Dinther - A quick search for Panasonic model AW-HE120 reveals that its sensor has 1000 lines of resolution and records to 1080p @60 Hz format...plenty of extra pixels vertically and horizontally to produce a final 720p video after the image correction you describe. Like you, they are experts, and they know what they're doing.



@Paul van Dinther - A 60 degree field of view on the horizontal axis is hardly considered wide angle, and a lens with little to no distortion and light falloff would be rather easy to manufacture, so I don't understand your comment that it would "look like a barrel". There is also no need to overlap and digitally stitch the image, if calibrated properly they would just run each image right next to each other, no unlike using 4 widescreen monitors side by side.

Robert Korn

I like how it has a beer dispenser on each side :p

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