Universities Introducing Volumetric Video into their Curriculums

Universities and further education institutions are leading the way when it comes to volumetric video. Moving away from the traditional flat-screen delivery, the switch to volumetric capture and video marks a new era in filmmaking, game design, and graphics production.

Perhaps the greatest visual development in history, volumetric video is a true gamechanger. With the potential to offer real-time 3D interactions, in addition to visuals. Of course, today’s students are tomorrow’s SIGGRAPH and Oscar winners, so it’s no surprise that universities are already introducing volumetric video content into their courses.

As pioneers of the art form, students are already producing with this growing form of tech. Whilst volumetric video has the potential to make VR accessible in the mainstream, the reality of using volumetric capture is a little trickier. 

What is Volumetric Video?

Volumetric Video

Put simply, volumetric video captures 3D spaces. Sounds simple? Not so much.

Electromagnetic radiation points are acquired during volumetric capture, which provides the core data for 3D modeling. Sometimes referred to as 3D Human Body Reconstruction (3DHBR), a unique camera setup is required to acquire the amount of data needed to facilitate effective 3D modeling.

State of the art studios are routinely using 100+ cameras to capture volumetric video, so it’s not anywhere close to being a cheap method of video production. However, the results are nothing less than outstanding.

Critical to volumetric video is the ability to deliver 3D visuals and interactions in real-time. To date, forays into 3D films have been arguably limited by the necessity of a static environment. Sure, viewers can wear 3D glasses and see the film in 3D, but watching it is still a passive experience.

With volumetric capture and video, however, users can explore the environment and experience bespoke visuals as they explore the 3D world. With graphics changing in real-time, it puts the user in control and allows them to enter another dimension. Literally.

Why are universities investing in the volumetric video?

There’s no doubt about it, volumetric video is going to change the world of motion pictures. Combining computer graphics, 3D modeling, photogrammetry, science, and art, it’s a culmination that’s been decades in the making.

Students of any discipline are keen to study the most cutting-edge aspects of their future profession. It follows, therefore, that people studying creative subjects, such as interactive art, game design, computer graphics, and filmmaking, will want and need to explore the possibilities that volumetric video offers.

Indeed, it could be said that universities that do not feature volumetric capture, video and 3D modeling on their creative course are failing to give their students the education they deserve. With volumetric video already being used commercially, tomorrow’s graduates will need a working knowledge of the medium if they’re to flourish, even if they choose to specialize in other areas at a later date.

Is the volumetric video available at all universities?

Not quite. The cost of a standard volumetric capture setup is prohibitive, even for well-funded universities and colleges. While Surrey University and George State University have invested in their very own state of the art studios, not all higher education institutions have been able to follow their lead.

Although there’s no doubt that students who have access to an advanced volumetric video studio will have the potential to excel, even this will restrict students from fully immersing themselves in the world of volumetric video.

With demand for creative courses increases, having just one studio on campus is going to restrict the availability and the number of students who can gain experience in the medium. Whilst no university currently offers a full undergraduate volumetric video course, there are a wide variety of subjects that offer volumetric capture and video models. Due to this, universities need access to more cost-effective volumetric video setups.

EF EVE ™ volumetric capture software for editing volumetric video.

Currently, there is a variety of professional 3D modeling software available to students. Using educational licenses, students can access software including Maya, 3D Max and Unity Engine, as well as free programs, such as Google’s SketchUp, Blender, VUE Pioneer and many more.

The fact that volumetric video can be exported into these student-friendly software formats merely emphasizes the need for on-site studio facilities. With current volumetric capture studios running at around $500,000, however, universities would need to invest millions if they were to create the extensive facilities their students require.

Although the equipment for a volumetric capture studio can be rented, this still comes at a cost of around $100,000. As the volumetric video is clearly here to stay, the long-term rental agreements and volume of equipment required make this option a non-starter for universities and colleges too.

Incorporating volumetric video into the curriculum

Nottingham University virtual reality courses.

Identifying a clear gap in the market, EF EVE™ got to work creating a workable solution for students, colleges, and universities all over the world. Developing volumetric capture software that works in conjunction with off the shelf 3D sensors, EF EVE™ has successfully made volumetric video more accessible.

Their innovative software enables users to capture volumetric video using one to four sensors across just one or two PCs. Once captured, users have the option to edit via the EF EVE™ platform or export the video to 3D Max, Maya or Unity Engine. This means students can combine the use of EF EVE™ and their preferred free-to-access software to produce the volumetric video.

What’s more – it comes at a fraction of the cost of a professional volumetric capture studio. Whereas universities were faced with spending millions on creating function facilities, students can create their own volumetric capture capabilities for under $1,000.

Of course, the fact that students can access this kind of tech on a relatively small budget means that more people will have unrestricted access to the tools they need to excel in this new medium. Whilst professional studios would, of course, be beneficial, the inevitable waiting lists for access would minimize the time that individual students had to work with the equipment.

With EF EVE™, however, students can access the hardware and software they need relatively cheaply and hone their skills in volumetric video production. As many students opt for remote learning and online courses, the availability of affordable equipment is essential for their education.

Professional results at a fraction of the cost

What makes EF EVE™ so popular is the quality it offers. With instant volumetric capture and real-time render, students can use the software to produce pro-quality content, without the need for a full setup or studio.

Furthermore, the EF EVE™ Depth Codec allows volumetric video to be streamed live into AR, VR, desktop, mobile and on the web. Whether students want to experiment with live volumetric video, export content in Maya, 3D Max or Unity Engine or edit volumetric capture using the in-built EF EVE™ platform, there is a method to suit everyone.

Although students will need access to sensors in order to capture volumetric video, EF EVE™ has ensured their software is compatible with off-the-shelf options. Azure Kinect, Kinect v2 and Inter Real sense are all compatible with EF EVE™ volumetric video software, which ensures students can purchase the hardware they need for as little as $400.

Currently, individual pro access for EF EVE™ runs at $39, while businesses will pay around $89 per month. However, EF EVE™ also offers custom corporate plans. If universities can negotiate an educational license, it’s likely that students will be able to access EF EVE™ volumetric capture software for free.

EF EVE ™ volumetric video live streaming.

Many educational institutions are already using EF EVE™, which shows just how popular the software is. To date, the University of California Santa Cruz, Oxford Brookes University, University of Nevada and Griffith University have been early proponents of the software, although many more are now introducing it.

Despite the clear demand for affordable volumetric capture options, EF EVE™ is the only company to offer this level of quality at such a low cost. Perfect for students and anyone with an interest in 3D modeling, video production or game development, EF EVE™’s innovative approach has undoubtedly brought volumetric capture and video into the mainstream.

As a result, the content produced in volumetric video will be far greater, both in terms of the amount produced and the artistic flair showcased.  With unrestricted access to video capture hardware and software, students can successfully learn their craft and incorporate their skills into their future career choices.

Of course, the increased availability of volumetric video resources won’t just benefit today’s undergraduates, freshman, and seniors. With younger students also having access to pro-grade tools and equipment, they’ll be able to develop specialist skills from an even earlier age. For those who want to be on the cutting edge of 3D modeling, game development and video production, volumetric video is the next logical step and, so far, it’s EF EVE™ that is making it possible.