Lytro Cinema Brings Light-Field Camera Tech To Professional Filmmaking

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Whether it’s their original camera or the larger Illum, Lytro’s attempt at consumer-grade shooters didn’t exactly pan out. For all intents and purposes, their technology really might be more suited to professional-grade setups where price is less of a consideration then the consumer mass market. That’s definitely true with their previously-announced VR camera and it seems to be the case as well for the just-announced Lytro Cinema.

A high-end movie camera, it brings the outfit’s light-field technology to professional film and TV crews, allowing filmmakers to refocus a scene after it’s captured. While that sounds like a cool trick on its own, being able to modify the focus and depth of field after shooting has much wider implications, as it enables filmmakers to perform a whole host of changes in post-production that they previously had to make right on set.

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With its clever refocusing trick, the Lytro Cinema eliminates the need to use a green screen, since you can pluck subjects straight out of any background.  That means, a scene you shot in a busy park with plenty of traffic can be easily edited to make it look you’re someplace else entirely. Heck, you can mix subjects from multiple scenes and throw in CGI without a green screen in sight.  The camera, which captures 4K video at 300 fps, also lets you tweak frame rates and adjust shutter speeds in post-production, giving you even more ways to change scenes without requiring a reshoot.

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Since post-production is a huge part of what sets the Lytro Cinema apart, the camera is only one component of the system. The outfit will also be providing plugins for existing software tools used in the visual effects industry, as well as cloud storage and processing (as you can imagine, the files will be massive).

The Lytro Cinema will be available for rentals starting late 2016, with subscription prices starting at $125,000.

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2 Responses

  1. Pete

    I can see this camera becoming a cheaper replacement to the RED among film school students and experienced high-end YouTube video creators. Not sure if it really is a replacement for the RED though, because it seems bulkier.

    Once you get a greenscreen set-up with the right lighting, it is easy to use, even for amateurs. It is a nice feature though that is has a built-in green screen. I can see this used for a lot of cool things, but how does it work exactly? Will it give you the same look as a regular greenscreen? How much extra, if any, post-processing needs to be done with this method as compared to the traditional greenscreen? Is the learning curve steep with this camera?

    This can capture up to 300 frames per second. If you are looking to create a professional looking video and have the money then you definitely need to check this out. Don’t worry if you can’t afford it, because you can always find a place to rent a high-end video camera. If you plan your shooting schedule, then you can actually save money with renting over buying. By renting you wont get stuck with an expensive camera that will get outdated soon and drop in resale value.

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  2. Lydia

    I think it’s a really brave and very cool move of Lytro to go ahead and rent these amazing cameras out. I don’t know much about all that goes into production but I’ve always been under the impression that a green screen was a must. It’s fascinating to me that this camera can make changes to your already-filmed scenes. The fact that you can completely change the background to a new location and pick and choose subjects from a single scene and move them to another scene altogether is absolutely amazing. I’m in shock that such a technology exists. This is going to make filming much easier. Hearing the word “cut” may soon become a thing of the past!

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