Just over a year after a successful funding campaign on Kickstarter, the Bublcam is shipping to backers. It’s a 360-degree, virtual-reality-capable camera aimed at amateur enthusiasts very much like the Sphericam 2 we reported on last month.

The concept isn’t difficult to understand: The camera captures footage in every direction at once, so it’s suitable for use on YouTube’s 360-degree video channel or inside a virtual reality headset. The footage is compatible with Google Cardboard, the Gear VR, the Oculus Rift and other headsets. Viewers are able to turn their head in any direction while it plays.

All that’s missing is stereoscopic 3D depth perception (as you get from behind your glasses at the movie theater) and the ability to move independently around a scene, both of which you might find in true VR.

With Google making public its own video rig and the Sphericam 2 raising three times its goal on Kickstarter, VR filmmaking tools are slowly filtering down to interested consumers as well as professionals.

The advantage the Bublcam has is it’s shipping now, and it’s the most affordable option out there. If you didn’t get in at the Kickstarter stage, you can now order one for $799 from the Bublcam site. The Sphericam 2, in contrast, is expected to ship in December and costs from $1,299.

Like the Sphericam 2, the Bublcam captures both still spherical photos and video, and there are time-lapse and HDR photography features to take advantage of too. 

The camera features four 5-megapixel cameras and is capable of filming 360-degree footage at 1984 by 992 pixels at 30 frames per second.

An Accessible Workflow

Bublcam is about more than just the hardware, though—its developers have worked hard to create an end-to-end workflow solution that anyone who understands a video editor app or smartphone can use.

To that end there’s a full ystem backing up the camera: a cloud service (Bubl.io) for storing clips and stitching them together, and mobile apps for Android and iOS to make filming straightforward. The app is also going to showcase selected content from other Bublcam users.

Users can export a JPEG or MP4 file that’s editable by any common video suite, such as Final Cut, Avid, After Effects or Adobe Premiere. Footage can be saved in multiplex format (where each camera’s video is shown in a separate quadrant) or as an equirectangular file (where all four inputs are stitched into one flat projection).

“The Kickstarter program was a significant learning experience for our company,” Bubl Technology CEO Sean Ramsay told ReadWrite. “We were very lucky to have the support of our backers, enabling us to exceed our initial fundraising goals and bring a truly innovative spherical camera to market.

“While the Bublcam endured delays on its way to completion, the end result of our offering was much larger than initially anticipated. We would not be where we are today without the support of our Kickstarter community and we will continue to work with this community to improve our offering.”

It’s still early days, but the cost of VR filmmaking is dropping at the same time as these tools become easier to use, giving more of us the opportunity to create immersive content—just in time for the next wave of headgear.

Image courtesy of Bublcam