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Canon enters The Matrix, with a 100-camera 4K Bullet Time setup!

Watch video: Canon enters the Matrix at CES 2021

We’ve seen some incredibly innovative technology at CES, but one of the coolest and most interesting is Canon’s Volumetric Video System.

Among the camera giant's showcases at CES 2021 was a presentation filmed at its Volumetric Video Studio in Kawaski, Japan. Here it used the titular technology to film, scan, and virtually transport Japanese skateboarders to the legendary Love Park – the skateboarding Mecca in Philadelphia, which was demolished in 2016.

The Canon technology is similar in concept to the Bullet Time visual effects, used on The Matrix series of films. This employed a fixed, elaborate rig of 120 DSLRs, firing simultaneously, producing still frames that could then be edited together to create the illusion of a camera moving through free space.

Along similar lines, Canon’s Volumetric Video Studio features an installation of 100 4K cameras that simultaneously shoot footage and instantly render it into 3D. This enables video playback from any possible camera angle and camera path – unlike the original Bullet Time setup, where you were restricted to the fixed position of the rig. Combined with the 360° green screen, that 3D footage can be rendered with any backdrop or location you can dream of. 

One of the largest such spaces in the world, at 690 square feet, Canon's Kawasaki studio captures 4K video at up to 60fps and can record up to 10 people simultaneously. The resulting 2D and 3D footage can be used for standard video, as well as virtual reality and augmented reality applications.

The volumetric production features an incredibly low latency of just three seconds, which is up to ten times faster than many rival technologies. Not only does this facilitate a virtually instantaneous workflow, it also means that production can be live streamed – and it can even deliver multiple videos, rather than a single stream.

This technology is not just limited to the studio, either; Canon’s system is completely scalable, meaning that it can be deployed in sporting arenas, theater productions, music concerts and other live events. 

More than just a tool for creating cool special effects, Canon’s Volumetric Video System might redefine the way that we watch and interact with sporting events, Broadway plays, feature films and even festivals. And in a world where attending such things isn't as easy or safe as it once was, this could be very exciting indeed. 

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