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Pic Of The Day: Surround Video

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 09:40 UK time, Friday, 1 February 2008

Below is a picture of Surround Video, an idea being developed by technologists at BBC Research & Innovation.

Surround video

Graham Thomas of BBC R&I kindly sent me this explanation:

Surround Video is a means of visually immersing the viewer into a TV programme.
It is like surround sound, an optional extra that enhances viewing on a normal display. The idea is to use a wide angle (or fisheye) camera fixed rigidly alongside the normal camera shooting the programme, and to project the image onto the walls, ceiling and floor of the viewer's room.
The image is scaled and positioned to ensure that it aligns up with the existing TV, and warped to compensate for the distortion effects that come from the wide-angle lens and projection system. Although the projected image will be dimmer and of lower resolution than the main image, it nevertheless gives a strong feeling of immersion, particularly with motion cues being visible in the viewer's peripheral vision.
The effect is enhanced if the walls are light-coloured and relatively uncluttered, but it still works even if there are bookshelves and pictures. Currently, the system is just a research prototype, but it shows one way that TV viewing could develop in the future.

Thanks to Sarah Mines for the picture.

Surround video is mentioned in this recent article about the work of BBC R&I from The Independent. There's also more information in this PDF from the BBC Technology Festival.


Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog.


  1. At 11:33 AM on 01 Feb 2008, James wrote:

    Wow, I don't know what to say apart from, that looks cool.

  2. At 01:13 PM on 03 Feb 2008, Adrian wrote:

    At best this will simply enable the audience to get a good look at the crew, the boom, the caterers and make up in their little chairs.

    Quite apart from the problems it would create in the edit when nobody EVER leaves frame, and those dramatic moments of a sudden entrance are ruined.


  3. At 05:01 PM on 03 Feb 2008, Richard wrote:

    That's really cool. However, I think that before technology like this really gets a chance to take off, things like 'video visors' may have become more popular - the first one is supposed to be available at the end of this year, retailing at only around $300.

    It's still a great idea though. It could possibly be used in cinemas as well.

  4. At 11:43 AM on 04 Feb 2008, greenwhitengold wrote:

    Great idea while all the main info is in the TV screen for the viewer it simply enchances the experience and gives the viewer a sense of being there with non-essential images... great if your in a moving car in a programme etc... should definately be developed for the cinemas...

  5. At 02:45 PM on 04 Feb 2008, Jim Easterbrook wrote:

    Adrian raises an interesting question. The bit of the demo I've seen is a ride on the Docklands Light Railway, filmed from a single point of view. The multi-camera, fast cutting techniques used in drama might be hard to adapt to surround video. Should the surround video cut with the main image? Or should it just be "ambient" and not connected to the main image?

    Perhaps dramatic moments of sudden entrance will need to be made through doors in future. There is already a problem if a 16:9 programme is chopped down to 4:3 - the widescreen viewers see the entrance before everyone else.

  6. At 08:47 PM on 11 Feb 2008, Alex Stansfield wrote:

    Err, April fools isn't for another two months. Surely you jest?

  7. At 03:45 PM on 12 Feb 2008, Nick Reynolds wrote:

    No Alex it's all true.

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