GoPro has revealed that it will ship preorder units of its Omni virtual reality camera rig on August 17.

Full sales of the six-camera rig will also open up on the same day. The setup includes six Hero 4 Black cameras and costs $5,000.

GoPro Omni Kit
Image source: GoPro

Omni camera rig offers accessible 360-degree video capabilities

The Omni has a cube-shaped metal housing and includes the necessary hardware and software to create 360-degree videos. While $5,000 is a lot of money for normal consumers, it’s not too bad for production crews that are looking to get into virtual reality films.

GoPro will also sell a version of the Omni without cameras for $1,500, aimed at those who already own Hero 4 Black cameras. However there will be less equipment and no software license.

For the past few years, rigs have been available that let filmmakers film in 360 degrees, but the Omni does more than simply point the cameras in the right direction. Each unit is linked to a “brain” that stitches footage together pixel by pixel, and settings are synced across the cameras so you only need to input them on one master camera.

GoPro software offering also impressive

Filmmakers are likely interested in the camera quality and the spherical image, but also in the software that GoPro has developed for the Omni. The first is the Omni Importer, which is a remarkably easy way to prep the 360-degree video that you’ve been shooting.

After downloading your footage to your computer, the Importer syncs the videos by itself. Open the program to see a preview of the footage, trim and make some basic edits and then export to social media in 2K, 4K or 8K.

This simple software may appeal to normal consumers, but GoPro is also aware that video professionals will want some more in-depth tools. As a result GoPro grants Omni owners access to Autopano Video, which gives greater control over stitching and optimization. Plugins are also available for Adobe Premiere and After Effects.

GoPro Omni a good solution for certain filmmakers

As impressive as the rig sounds, it won’t work for everyone. The first issue is the lack of 3D capabilities, which means that truly immersive virtual reality video is beyond it. There is also no live-streaming capability.

However at this price the GoPro Omni is an impressive piece of kit for shooting 2D, 360-degree video. The rig sits comfortably between cheaper rigs like the Samsung Gear 360 ($350) and the outrageously expensive Ozo ($60,000).

Other companies offer rigs that hold GoPro cameras in place to film 360-degree video, but the difference with the Omni is the fact that it is so easy to use. This is all down to the software development that the company has undertaken.

It will be interesting to see who buys the GoPro Omni at that price point. It would stand to reason that companies would invest, but any normal consumer would have to have a decent amount of spare change to splash out $5,000 on a camera rig.

Either way it looks like GoPro is pushing ahead with the move into virtual reality. The company is also currently working on a Hero5 Black camera, as well as the Karma drone. It could be an important few months for GoPro as we see how its new products are received by the public.