iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max get spatial video capture
Image courtesy: Apple

Apple released iOS 17.2 for its iPhone range on December 11. One of the headline updates was that Apple iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max users can now record spatial videos.

What are spatial videos?

Spatial videos are also called 6DOF (6 degrees of freedom) videos and give you much more than 3D videos. With 3D videos, the perspective never changes, no matter how you view them. However, if you move when viewing spatial videos, then the perspective will change. For example, this means that the background can move left or right behind your subjects as you change your view.

How does it work?

Image courtesy: Apple

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have a feature called LiDAR which is short for Light Detection and Ranging. This uses lasers to detect depth in your image. The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max also use their Main and Ultra Wide cameras simultaneously when recording spatial video. The iPhone then scales the field of view from the Ultra Wide camera to match that of the Main camera and saves everything as a single video file. The two video streams plus the depth information give you spatial video.

Landscape video

You can only record spatial videos with your iPhone Pro or Pro Max in Landscape orientation. This is because the two cameras need to be side by side. Spatial videos are also captured in 1080p at 30 frames per second in standard dynamic range. Despite all the data being captured, the iPhones use advanced computational videography techniques and HEVC compression to keep the file sizes down.

Viewing spatial videos

If you watch a spatial video on your iPhone or another device, it will appear as a regular 2D video. You can also share them just like any other video. They will be stored within a new Spatial album in the Photos app. If you want to take full advantage of the spatial video technology, however, you will need Apple Vision Pro. Apple Vision Pro is Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset, scheduled for delivery in early 2024.

What we think

Spatial videos are an exciting new concept, but the catch is that you need an Apple Vision Pro to view them. Apple Vision Pro is expected to sell for $3,499 so it’s going to be out of the reach of many people’s budgets. However, by releasing the ability to record spatial video now, Apple has ensured that when Apple Vision Pro goes on sale, iPhone owners will already have an album of spatial videos ready to be watched. That seems like a great way to ensure iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max owners head to an Apple Store once Apple Vision Pro hits the shelves.

Availability

iOS 17.2 for iPhones is available now. If you have your iPhone set to download updates automatically it may have already done so. To update your iPhone manually, go to Settings > General > Software Update.


Featured image courtesy: Apple

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.