BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Facebook’s interest in video is no longer a secret, and YouTube is definitely not ignoring the social network’s ability to be a worthy rival. The Silicon Valley company brought 360-degree videos to our News Feeds back in September, and a new post on its Engineering blog explains why it was no easy feat to create it.
One of the most difficult things to achieve was a seamless image footage that isn’t distorted. When Facebook first started working on the 360-degree technology, the number one priority was not producing videos that look like they came out of a warped nightmare.
That’s how the engineers came up with the current video filter that uses “cube mapping,” a common CG method that divides a frame into six squares to form a cube: two images spread on the top and bottom 25 percent of the frame in addition to four others that cover the middle part that makes up 50 percent of the frame.
The resulted six-image frame is still flat, so the filter wraps it around a virtual sphere, with each square of image filling the cube in every direction you can look: up, down, left, right, front and back. This technique allows Facebook to render 25 percent fewer pixels than in the initial video, making it a lot easier for us to view the finished product.
Fewer pixels also mean smaller sizes and faster processing times, both of which are vital for Facebook’s ability to produce 360-degree videos in a timely fashion with faster encoding. Even though you don’t need virtual-reality glasses in order to view these videos, the company is clearly hinting to the arrival of more VR content on their website.
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, VR tech is currently of focus because it’s the “next major computing and communication platform.” In this effect, his company acquired Oculus VR last year for no less than $2 billion.
In addition to making our News Feeds a lot more immersive, Zuckerberg announced Oculus Rift will become available in its consumer version at the beginning of 2016. As for what’s next, Facebook engineers David Pio and Evgeny Kuzyakov explained there are plenty of hurdles that need fixing.
Automatic detection of 360 video upload is still rigged with false-positives, and considering Facebook’s sheer scale, not even a 0.1 percent false-positive rate is acceptable, as that would mean thousands of regular videos would be detected as 360 videos.
In spite of the “great strides,” there’s room for improvement. Before too long, however, 360-degree videos will be as much a part of the internet as JPEGs or GIFs.
Image Source: Xpress Technology