One of the seismic changes wrought by the digital revolution is the narrowing of the quality gap between professional and consumer production equipment, enabling underfunded indies and talented amateurs to create increasingly slick, commercially-viable projects.
That revolution is slowly spreading to the world of virtual reality (VR), reaching another beachhead with today’s announcement from GoPro that it will be shipping its new Omni VR camera system on Aug. 17. Customers can place pre-orders for the Omni beginning today.
Priced at $5,000, the package comes with six Hero 4 Black cameras, the metal housing to hold them and software to stitch the 360-degree footage it captures. People who already own six Hero 4 Blacks can buy a camera-less version of the Onni package for $1,500.
That’s significantly cheaper than the $15,000 Odyssey rig camera, co-designed with Google for use with its Jump VR platform, which utilizes an array of 16 GoPros. And it’s a flat-out bargain compared to high-end pro rigs like NextVR’s setup, which uses an array of six Red Epic Dragon cameras that cost about $30,000 each.
The Omni can capture 360-degree spherical footage in up to 8K resolution. Its software suite includes an importer tool that syncs the footage after it has been downloaded from each of the six 32GB microSD cards from the individual cameras using the included card readers and USB hub. More significantly, it comes with plug-ins for Adobe Premiere Pro software that enable users to view footage in VR with an Oculus Rift headset as they edit.
While the Omni is significantly cheaper than other VR rigs on the market, it’s still out of reach for the average consumer, which means it’s unlikely to do much to revitalize GoPro’s declining sales. In January, GoPro announced it was laying off 7% of its workforce after it reported a 30% drop in revenue year-over-year for Q4 2015. Last month, it reported revenue of $220.7 million for Q2 2016, beating analysts’ forecast of $194 million, but down from $420 million for the same period last year.