Earlier this year, HTC announced that Viveport Video will begin supporting what’s called “6DOF Lite” video. While this term doesn’t exactly provide an obvious description as to what it is, the results are nothing short of software magic. 6DOF Lite translates a regular 360-degree VR video into one where you can move around and get a different perspective, much like realtime VR content would.
While this doesn’t sound like much, it’s quite the game changer if you’ve ever experienced a 360-degree video in VR. As it stands, most VR video content utilizes what’s known as 3DOF, or 3 degrees of freedom. Simple VR headsets like Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Go allow you to tilt or turn your head around, but standing up or leaning over will completely break the realism inherent to VR content.
Viveport Video’s 6DOF Lite mode uses some software voodoo to translate that “pancake” 360-degree video into a more volumetric experience, changing the perspective as you move your body to make it feel more like you’re actually in the scene. Given that this feeling is part of the entire reason behind the 360-degree video experience, it’s pretty safe to say that HTC’s latest development could very well change the paradigm of 360-degree video in its entirety.
6DOF Lite video supports movement up to 1m in all directions without significant warping or distortion and appears to work incredibly well according to one hands-on experience by developer Skarredghost. 6DOF Lite is currently available on HTC’s Viveport marketplace for the Vive Focus Plus and is slated to become available for the regular HTC Vive and Vive Pro later this month.
Skarredghost goes into quite a bit of detail in his hands-on review of the experience, including just how well the illusion works to trick your brain into thinking you’re actually part of the scene. 6DOF Lite works, in simple terms, by zooming and warping the video at hand to create the illusion that you’re moving just a bit through 3D space while the video is playing.
Since this is a simulated effect, it's not going to work perfectly for every scenario. As Skarredghost explains in detail, looking down at the floor or another environmental object while moving is nearly perfect, but the scene that's playing all around you can deliver a mixed experience. Some elements in the foreground sport some obvious warping, while other elements throughout 3D space look incredibly convincing.
This is done seamlessly and in real time, and doesn’t require the heavy coding or horsepower needed to run what’s known as “volumetric video”. While Volumetric Video will provide an actual 3D scene to walk around in, these scenes are rendered with 3D models like a video game and aren’t actually video at all.
HTC’s approach with 6DOF Lite is far less resource-intensive on all fronts and offers a way for the video software to translate all 360-degree content into 6DOF video without need for additional coding or configuration. Vive and Vivepro owners can grab Viveport Video on Steam or Viveport.