Camera from Portland inventor shows 360 view of Haiti

Camera from Portland inventor shows 360 view of Haiti


by Joe Smith

Posted on January 25, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 26 at 10:04 AM

PORTLAND< Ore. -- If the camera never lies, then we are now seeing new truths out of Haiti. It's a view of the destruction we haven't seen before. This time a 360 degree view.

It's technology invented here in Portland to bring the world around us closer to home.

Up until now the images we've seen out of Haiti are only from one perspective. Now, thanks to a Portland inventor the world is getting a much broader view.

David McCuthen is co-founder of Immersive Media. When he worked in special effects in the movies he wanted more.

"I needed something more than the usual rectangle that a movie is made of to subdivided a sphere more efficiently to make a better looking image," said McCuthen.

He first got the idea in the 1980's. It wasn't until the mid 90's when he came up with a working prototype.

"This was in 1995. This is the first immersive video camera ever built," he said.

The camera is made of 11 lenses that capture full motion video. It takes cameramen a little while to get use to a new way of shooting.

"You tend to always want to be panning. Everything happens around you you want to pan with it. It's really tough to teach yourself to just stand there and realize you're getting thing at all times," said Craig Adkins, who has been around the world using the 360 camera.

Video signals are recorded on to hard drives located on the bottom of the self contained backpack. The drives are then sent to company headquarters for editing. The video is color corrected, the audio is sweetened and then it's ready for the web.

"All eleven lenses have come together to make this one cohesive piece, in a worldview," said Eve Hansen. Anyone viewing the video
and control what they want to see, dragging their mouse left or right, up or down. Even zoom in.

The camera has been used world wide, from jumping out of a plane to the Grand Canyon to Africa and now Haiti..

"That want to get a very good mapping of the entire city. So they're able to compare it against pre-destruction, post destruction" said Larry Logan, the company's marketing director.

Originally the camera was intended for entertainment and advertising. And it was the first to do street surveys for Google.

Now the company is shooting 360 video for Mapquest. But, it's the video in Haiti that's giving the company a new view from within.

"Being able to bring the world back to people so they can experience it on-line and look around and see for themselves" said McCuthen.

Immersive Media will be in Haiti for at least the next 30 days. It is offering it's cameras and is sharing the data at no charge.