As many industries are experiencing, video production is about to undergo radical changes thanks to the advent of a few key technologies.
Smart devices, wireless communication and drones are creating awesome new opportunities to shoot video unlike any we’ve ever seen before.
Here are 13 startups leading the way on this frontier.
The startup team at AirDog got huge support on Kickstarter for their auto-follow, drone-mounted camera technology. The AirDog system features a drone built to support a GoPro and a wearable controller that the drone is programmed to follow. The result? Killer aerial footage for adventure sports athletes:
AirDog received clearance from the FCC for its technology just before Thanksgiving, and the company expects to ship its first orders February 2016.
Lucid Cam is the world’s first camera specifically for virtual reality platforms. With the Oculus Rift shipping in early 2016, Lucid is poised to be one of the biggest companies in the early VR universe. The camera is super easy to use, too: It has a single button to control image capture, and the whole thing is small enough to put in your pocket.
“It’s a gorgeous device as it stands,” TechCrunch‘s Drew Olanoff wrote in November 2015. “It shoots in 180 degrees to stay away from the stitching issues that 360 degree video has. Again, we’re talking about consumer applications, taking the camera out of your pocket and shooting a moment at your kid’s soccer game. You don’t want to have to use a tripod, or turn around in circles while your kid is playing.”
Graava just might change how the average person even thinks about video. Graava is a tiny, self-editing camera. The device actually has built into it a camera, a mic, an accelerometer, a GPS tracker and a heart rate monitor to help it gauge when something important or memorable happens.
Here is a video of Graava in action:
With those inputs, it can essentially create personal highlight reels for you. This is where Graava hopes to compete with GoPro. “The pain point is always the content,” founder Bruno Gregory tells Forbes. “People always give up on the cameras because they don’t have time to check their video.”
Nixie is a wearable camera that will fly away at your command, shoot photos of 1080p video, and boomerang back to you. The device folds around your wrist and looks a lot like a really high-tech watch. It’s still in development, but you can imagine that when it comes to market this will find a home among active Instagram, Vine and Snapchat users.
In December, Z-Cam began shipping preorders for its E1 camera, a tiny device that
- shoots 4K video,
- features an interchangeable lens system that is compatible with most major lenses,
- and synchs pretty seamlessly with the user’s phone.
The E1 is a truly digital-native camera. Z-Cam has built mobile apps so you can control it remotely, and it’s small enough that you can carry it to and from shoots in your pocket.
Check out the E1 promo reel below:
GNARBOX was built to solve the flipside of the problem Graava looks to solve. Because so much video gets shot every single day, gigabytes upon gigabytes of quality footage never see the light of day. This is a problem for, say, pro snowboarders who want to improve their runs by watching film, or by putting together promo reels for sponsors.
The GNARBOX team, then, created a device that lets people shoot video and edit it on their phones, on the spot — no laptop necessary. By plugging your camera’s storage card into the GNARBOX, you will be able to back up, organize, manage, edit and share all of your best stuff.
Awesome video needs clear, crisp audio. With wearables and drone-mounted cameras becoming increasingly popular, the need will arise for reliable wireless microphones. That’s where Mikme comes in.
The company crowdfunded its wireless mic on Indiegogo and was nearly overwhelmed with demand. The Mikme mic is a small, rectangular device that can fit in the palm of your hand. Place it anywhere you want to capture sound, and it can record 360 hours of studio-quality sound continuously.
Here is a sample video shot on an iPhone 6. The sound cuts back and forth between the internal mic and the Mikme for comparison:
LiveLike VR is creating super-immersive experiences for sports fans with its virtual reality platform. Users will be able to share an event with each other, no matter where they are, and they’ll be able to see live stats and instant replays on demand.
“Sports is not about being ‘on the field’ for the whole game, it’s about being able to hang with your friends, doing stuff while there’s a two-minute timeout, seeing replays, stats, and more,” CEO Andre Lorenceau told Forbes in October.
All a video production team will have to do is add a wide lens to their existing cameras and send the feed to LiveLike, who will then process the video and distribute it to fans using a VR headset such as Oculus Rift. Look for LiveLike VR to launch in 2016.
A Sphericam looks like something from a Dungeons & Dragons box, but it’s actually a camera that can shoot 4K video in 360 degrees. This is another company poised to be at the forefront of virtual reality.
Here is a video shot on one of the prototype models on a drive through the Dutch countryside. Use the arrow toggles in the upper left-hand corner to pan around the scene:
Vernon Kerswell, founder of Extreme Fliers, has built a Micro Drone that will stream HD footage directly to your phone. The drone is tiny — you can cup it in two hands — and designed to shoot perfectly stable video. And whereas the AirDog is built for adventure athletes, Kerswell wants his Micro Drone to find a home among drone enthusiasts.
It looks as if he’s found the right audience, too: Crowdfunding on Indiegogo wrapped up in August with $3 million in Micro Drone presales.
SpaceVR might not find a direct application in the lives of professional videographers, but the company deserves a mention on this list because they’re sending a virtual reality camera into space.
“Only 536 have experienced the Earth from space,” the team writes. “To those that have experienced it the conflicts that divide people become irrelevant and the need to come together to protect this ‘pale blue dot’ becomes both obvious and imperative. Our goal is to give everyone the opportunity to experience the truly infinite, boundless universe that we live in.”
SteadXP has built a tiny three-axis stabilizer that can work with just about any camera, from a GoPro to a cinematic setup.
Here is how that looks with a hand-held GoPro Hero4 in slow motion:
The SteadXP has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope that record the movements of your camera. Once you’ve got your shot, you can connect the camera to a computer and stabilize the footage through the company’s software.
SteadXP’s Kickstarter campaign wrapped up in mid-October 2015, with funding reaching more than triple the company’s initial goals.
So far, most of these startups have focused on novel ways to capture video and audio. Lytro is operating way outside of the box with its goals. This company wants to capture whole light fields and manipulate those to create video that looks nearly indistinguishable from real life. Just imagine the applications in virtual reality.
In November, the company introduced a camera and lighting system called Immerge, which is poised to help bridge the gap between virtual reality and, well, reality.
“Traditional cinematic production and virtual reality are quickly becoming two sides of the same coin,” CEO Jason Rosenthal told Forbes. “In the early days of the web and mobile, studios experimented with those to market their tentpole films. They’re starting to do that now with VR around their major releases.”