by Hugh Hou
[5-12-2021 Update] Real-world Obsidian Pro footage is here:
Let’s cut through the hype and find out if the Kandao Obsidian Pro is the BEST 360 VR camera for professional filmmakers in 2021! We will provide unstitch and stitched RAW footage in CinemaDNG and ProRes 4444 to download. We will also compare it with Insta360 Titan to find out the advantage and disadvantages. We will cover EVERYTHING you need to know about Kandao Obsidian Pro. Let’s go!
Unstitched CinemaDNG Raw from 8 lenses: Download Link
Stitched 12K x 12K 3D 360 Video in ProRes 4444: Download Link
Kandao Obsidian Pro Mistika VR Template: Download Link
Oculus Quest 2 sideload video: Download Link
NEW: 12K 60FPS single-lens download: Download Link
NEW: 12K 30FPS fully stitched ProRes HQ Low light footage: Download Link
NEW: 8K 30FPS for Oculus Quest 2 sideload (use sidequest or USB-C to transfer onto Movies folder): Download Link
Welcome back to another episode of new VR camera in the 2021 series.
Since Insta360 Titan launched almost one year ago, Today, Kandao finally launch their high-end cinematic 360VR camera – the Kandao Obsidian Pro. This 25 pounds spaceship-looking camera has some of the most impressive specs that the VR industry has never seen before. EIGHT APS-C high-quality image sensors. 12K 3D 360 in 12bit RAW or 10bit 422. Adjustable aperture from F2.8 to F16. Just Wow.
Obsidian Pro vs. Insta360 Titan.
First, let’s talk about max resolution.
Titan is 10K in 3D, 9600 x 9600 @30fps
Obsidian Pro is 12K in 3D 11520 x 11520 @30fps
Right now, no VR headset can see these high resolutions. Titan is already overkilled. Obsidian Pro will be a next level – OVERKILL. It is like the camera manufacturers are flexing to one and other. So, I don’t want you to be too hung up on the number. Obsidian Pro does listen to the Professional filmmaker requests – offering, out of the box 5760 by 5760, 6K 60FPS for Oculus Quest 2. This is the resolution I will be shooting professionally on the Obsidian Pro until Oculus Quest 3 comes out with a more impressive spec.
Let’s look at the individual lens level to see how much actual resolution and details we get per lens.
On the left, we have Obsidian Pro – in 4024 by 6026.
On the right, we have Titan in 3072 x 4800
If we show 100% here, you can see Obsidian Pro can capture a lot more details at a further distance than Titan shooting in its max resolution.
So Obsidian Pro will be great for nature and tourism VR video where distance details are important.
Let’s look at color bit depth.
Obsidian Pro can shoot RAW video in 12bit. Titan can shoot H.265 compressed video in 10bit.
What is that mean? All these 12bit 10bit 8bit are very confusing if you are not a colorist. So let me show it visually.
Here is a frame from Obsidian Pro, I did some color grading in Davinci Resolve to the best of my knowledge. I really pull down the highlight so we can see the SUN, which was not there in the original footage.
Same as the shadow. A lot more details are recovered in the theater door area right here as you see. This is a lot more pleasing image than what the camera initially captured. That is why all professional films or commercials will spend thousands of dollars on hiring a colorist to color the video.
Well, let’s look at the exact same color grading on a H.265 10bit footage from my Insta360 Titan.
Yes, it is really bad. You see banding in the sky immediately. The SUN is not able to be recovered using the same coloring technique.
Oh the shadows, you won’t be able to see on YouTube, but in Premiere, you can see compression artifacts causing by H.265, which is not there in the Kandao RAW file.
It is kinda like coloring a RAW file vs coloring a PNG, well a 10bit PNG. This is probably the biggest selling point of Obsidian Pro. Even you are not a colorist, you should know that.
Let’s look at 3D stitching.
I overlay the Titan footage on top of Obsidian Pro. As you can see, Obsidian Pro captures the entire top and bottom without any cropping. Titan crop your top and bottom. So that is why it is so hard to stitch the nadir and zenith on Titan. Also, Obsidian Pro has a slightly wider FOV in the sensor level – meaning greater overlap in 3D stitching. With the help of Mistika VR, you can generally have a better time than Titan.
This does not mean 3D stitching is going to be easy. It is easier than Titan, but still nowhere compared to Google Yi Halo, or Jaunt – which have a lot more lenses and 3D overlap. This is my biggest disappointment with the camera. Getting stitching right is by far the most expensive job in the entire VR production pipeline – and this camera is not solving it.
You see, I run into stitching problems in the sample footage for the guy who is really close to the camera. I hope Kandao official AI-powered stitcher can solve this. But Mistika VR manually stitched by me, so far need more overlap to really solve this stitch in both left and right eye.
Electronic Focus Control
New, unheard of features are introduced in Obsidian Pro – adjustable focus distance and electronic aperture control. So for monoscopic or stereoscopic footage, we can focus on the close-up subject just like any other 2D cinema camera. It is a strange concept but I can not wait to try that creatively in storytelling. I shoot lots of narrative VR movies nowadays – and this can be a great creative tool.
Having the ability to control aperture also helps you to create more cinematic-looking footage. Shutter speed or shutter angle is important in 2D film – but not so sure in VR. Motion blur, in general, makes people sick in VR headset. Having the ability to go F16 is great tho for a run and gun VR documentary where we can’t wait on the Sun.
12K 3D 60FPS
So Kandao does mention the possibility of using AI to turn 12K 30FPS into 12K 60FPS. But again, it is kinda irrelevant if Oculus Quest 2 can not play that. Also, the quality is not that great. I won’t suggest that.
4K Proxy File for rough cut
Finally, Kandao offers proxy files just like Insta360 Titan. The proxy files are in 4K, so better quality than Titan. I am just glad they finally did that so you can go straight to editing instead of waiting for Proxy generation.
Another big announcement and professional feature is the 8-in-1 monster SSD. This thing comes in 4T, 8T, and 16T. And the write speed is 22160Mpbs when you are capturing 12bit RAW. This is more than impressive if you are in the professional video world. That is why we invest so much money on the RED storage for a RED cinema camera.
Having the ability to shoot and edit RAW is amazing.
But, I can vision this SSD is going to be very expensive.
A 16T storage allows you to capture 90 minutes in RAW or 100 minutes in ALL-I 4:2:2 – Yes, it is not a lot. You better have funding before you even consider this camera.
Usability on set
This camera is designed from the ground up for professional filmmakers. It finally has a full feature LCD screen just like the Kandao Qoocam 8K or Insta360 ONE X2. For the run and gun VR documentary, this is a great improvement. You can use a professional VR camera as easy as a consumer 360 camera – which is great for beginners.
It also comes with some of the fastest connections the industry has to offer. It has 10G ethernet input for 8K+ 3D live steam. It uses the latest Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 – for phones or tablets that support it. This means less connection drop and greater reach. If you shoot with the old Kandao Obsidian R or S – you know what I am talking about. They go for a different route compare to Insta360 Titan farsight. We don’t know how good this Wi-Fi 6 really is. You will need to subscribe to CreatorUp to see the actual distance test when I have the unit in May.
3D Spatial audio is so important for 360 filmmakers. You should know it by now. If not, check out this series or my VR filmmaking masterclass right here.
Obsidian Pro supports all popular 1st order ambisonic microphones. But it also supports 8 channels 2nd order ambisonic mic with USB-c direct connection. So this can be the first camera to support my Voyage Audio 8-channel spatial mic. If you hear this Mic, you know how much better compared to just 1st order ambisonic.
If you don’t have any spatial Mic – Obsidian Pro also natively has 8 mics to support ambisonic in both 1st and 2nd order facebook format. How clear is the sound? We will see.
The Obsidian Pro uses a liquid cooling system just like the Teche 360Anywhere. So the camera could be silent during capture. Well, again I don’t know. This is just my guessing and wishful thinking. We will find out in May.
Finally, Obsidian Pro supports the film industry standard power supply – V-lock batteries. So if you have lots of them from your Arri Alex, SONY Venice or RED, you can reuse them instead of spending money to buy specialty batteries. Batteries are expensive; you know if you are professional filmmakers. Good to know Kandao following the standard.
We don’t know how expensive this camera can be. I can guess it will be more than Insta360 Titan – which is $15,000 US dollars. I think it will be a lot more considering all the professional features. Kandao is going for the ARRI ALEXA of VR camera – so expect to pay the price.
➜ My new 360VR Filmmaking Masterclass: http://film360.video/
➜ Insta360 Titan: https://bit.ly/insta360titan
➜ Qoocam 8K: http://bit.ly/2SFy3yU
➜ Qoocam 8K Enterprise + Qoocam Live: https://bit.ly/3hsTRsR (w/ 10% discount!)
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