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Summary:

Danfung Dennis, a war photographer whose company Condition One is set to graduate from TechStars’ New York class today, has created a video technology that lets people create immersive video that can capture 180 degrees of view and can be manipulated with swipes or an accelerometer.

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Danfung Dennis, a war photographer and videographer who turned his experiences in Afghanistan into an Academy Award-nominated documentary, would like people to get a look through his eyes. But instead of referring people to his pictures or documentary, he’s got a more ambitious plan to build a new video standard that let’s people encounter moving imagery in a much more visceral and interactive way.

Dennis’ company Condition One, which is set to graduate from TechStars’ New York class Thursday, has created a video technology that lets people with cameras film video that can capture 180 degrees of view. The video, which can be manipulated through swipes or an accelerometer, can be viewed through iPad or iPhone apps. The goal is to help consumers, big brands and publishers create videos that allow people to live inside a moment, letting them act as if they are in a given place, experiencing it firsthand.

The company is announcing today that it has raised $500,000 from Mark Cuban and is embarking on a pilot program with Mercedes, Discovery Communications, XL Recordings, The Guardian and Popular Science.  Popular Science, for example, has created an iPad app with Condition One technology that takes people on a tour of the ATLAS Large Hedron Collider. The new money will help the company improve its technology and build its team. One key hire is CTO Julian Gomez, a 3D graphics engineer pioneer, who has worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Google, Macromedia, Sun Microsystems and Apple, where he helped develop QuickDraw 3D, which led to 3D development standard OpenGL.

In addition to the Popular Science app, Condition One has its own showcase app (by the same name) that lets people see examples of the video experience. There’s a simple one of New York’s High Line Park that let’s people see a full field of vision as people walk by, kind of like a live version of Google Street View. Dennis believes this video can be used in a number of settings, from live music and sporting events to more traditional documentaries. He said creating video with Condition One results in a much more transparent portrayal of an event or story because it doesn’t involve traditional editing and framing techniques.

“There is less control and less ability to filter and it’s harder to construct a narrative,” Dennis said. “We’re taking the power of a still image and the narrative of film and marrying it with virtual reality to make a new experience that’s highly interactive.”

Dennis said that with the proliferation of mobile devices, it’s time we moved beyond traditional, flat video to a more immersive form of video. Condition One, however, will not work with basic point and shoot cameras, as it requires devices with more advanced sensors.  Still, Dennis said there are 30 million Condition One-compatible cameras on the market. Condition One allows creators to transform their video into interactive stories using existing tools, such as Final Cut and Avid, and the company is working on its own editing software. It’s also looking letting other developers embed Condition One videos into their existing apps using an API.

Danfung Dennis, Condition One founder

I like what Condition One is doing and am tempted to get a more advanced camera just to create some of these videos. It’s great that users don’t have to buy special hardware but can use cameras already on the market. We’ve seen a lot of hype around 3-D but there’s been very little payoff, especially among consumers making their own 3-D video. But I’d like to see more uses of Condition One that help people experience moments such as, perhaps, the Olympics or other major events. I think documentaries could be really interesting, too, though it will definitely require a more open-ended approach to video (kind of like how video game designers allow for a broad set of actions inside a game). Or it could lead to some kind of choose-your-own-adventure type of video that lets people control the narrative.

It’s too bad that regular cameras and smartphones can’t capture this video. That would make it really interesting for many more people. But I still think this could become a big deal as bigger publishers and brands embrace the possibilities.

  1. Revolution Video Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Completely agree. 3D has gotten so much hype, but very little payoff. I think this type of video, especially since many cameras have the capabilities to view it already, can become a big success — the success once thought to belong to 3D. If they can make the technology accessible to regular cameras and smartphones, then I think it can really get big.

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  2. There’s a company here in Montreal with a product to be launched soon that might do something very similar. http://www.tamaggo.com/main/

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  3. useless. turning the camera a little bit does nothing for me.
    maybe at a sports event. nothing else. limited usage.

    i dont want to be a director of photography. that’s your job content makers.

    and besides you dont really get to move the camera much

    just a bit in a circle

    you cannot choose your direction

    its like google street view

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  4. This sounds really great … but if you’re going to go this far with a standard, why not go all the way and support a full 360 degree view or hemisphere, so that you could look any where within the surroundings of the “photographer”?

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  5. Take some cues from Apple, they dropped support for QuickTime VR a few years ago. If there’s a future in it Apple might still be there.

    Second, why would a developer pay for this API when the only content being made us by Condition1, obviously they would have to pay for the content as well. I could see the big media guys producing in full HD before this sort of thing. All the full HD production tools are all out there already. I just don’t see the business model.

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    1. Steve Ardire Friday, June 15, 2012

      Very good comment CfC.

      I’m more interested in Video Content Analysis for Big Data
      that can concurrently analyze thousands of video streams in real time and combine video data with other structured and unstructured data sources such as text or transactional data. This approach is fundamentally different to traditional video analytics solutions which solely focus on video data.

      Oh and I know a startup that does this ;)

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  6. David Bloom Friday, June 15, 2012

    I was in the audience at demo day and thought it was one of the biggest technical visions I’ve ever heard. They’ll be Dolby for video.

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  7. Larry Ray Causey II Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Pretty Amazing Patrick, you are brave man. But unless I “go” I’m still bound up in frame lines… at least these frame lines move though. Nice work!

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  8. chris moffa Sunday, June 24, 2012

    It’s smoke and mirrors with the app, it’s a fish eye lens capturing information and the app acting as a frame on data that already exist. Remove the Frame and you can see everything in the context of how it was shot. .5 mil by Mr. Cuban, is anyone else scratching their head and thinking we are in Bizarro world…LOL

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