The 6-degrees of Virtual Freedom: Explained

6 dof vr production explained

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Six degrees of freedom

In the VR world, you may have often heard the term “six degrees of freedom” mentioned as a selling point of applications and headsets, but not quite understood what exactly it means. This article, we are going to take a quick look at what it is, what it means for VR, and how it can present itself.

What Is Six Degrees of Freedom?

Simply put, a degree of freedom is a motion about one of the three-dimensional axes. Most consumer VR headsets are sensitive to head movements, but not to walking around. This is because they offer three degrees of freedom (3DoF):

Our world, however, has six degrees of freedom (6DoF), as do the most high-end applications and VR hardware. This means that we can walk around our environment rather than just look around from a stationary spot. Alongside pitch, yaw and roll, the six degrees of freedom are made up of three other types of movement.

It goes without saying that environments sensitive to six degrees of freedom are much more immersive. Because you can interact with them just like you can in the real world, they’re more likely to invoke suspension of disbelief and make you forget for a moment that you are actually in a virtual space!

6DoF Videos, Media & Management

Have you ever imagined watching a video in which you can actually move about and explore like you could the real world? 6DoF videos are now a thing, and while they are ages away from being ready for everyday use.

6DoF videos may be much more impressive than standard 360-degree videos, but they come with their own set of problems. For starters, they are very difficult to film and distribute due to requiring a high amount of storage and processing power. As Intel have highlighted in a 2017 speech showcasing their own 6DoF footage format, a single frame of such a video would take up about three gigabytes.

Think back to the mid 1990s when home PCs were in their infancy: the average computer had a hard drive of about one gigabyte – which was a fair lot back then!

How Would We Make & Edit 360-degree 6DoF Videos?

Because 6DoF film is still a fairly recent concept that the mainstream market isn’t ready for yet, there currently isn’t a standard for filming and editing them. It is possible to capture them with 360-degree camera setups or to generate spatial computer imagery, but stitching and editing the  content is a painstaking, complicated process requiring highly-specialised software.

In 2021, a group of Computing researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand have developed a prototypical application that not only supports the editing of 6DoF videos, but allows users to edit them within an immersive VR environment. The 6DIVE (6DoF Immersive Video Editor) is still in very early stages with barebones editing capabilities, but its immersive interface received favourable feedback in studies.

At Portalco we are also managing the challenge and innovating the solution. For more information on our in-built range of tools to enable you to produce and deliver immersive content, with ease, productivity and autonomously. There is a huge variety of options when it comes to content management, organisation and workflows so we recommend an initial consultation with our team to outline your pipeline, with key missions, packages and deliverables.

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