Condition ONE seeks to redesign video journalism in two key ways. First, the camera’s field of view is widened to approximate the entire human visual field, including peripheral vision. Traditionally, a 50mm lens is considered “normal” for approximating human vision in 35mm photography; Dennis’s version bends a near-180-degree wide angle view into one (albeit distorted) frame. The effect may sound like stylistic affectation, but trust me, watching explosions and soldiers (and even interviews) from this perspective already creates a viscerally immersive effect compared to “normal” videography. The distorted edges actually mimic peripheral vision in a weirdly authentic way — motion and shapes in the periphery can’t be discerned in detail without “looking right at them,” just like in real life, but you still know they’re there.
The second part of Dennis’s project is more intriguing: making the images interactive in an authentic way. On the far-out side, Condition ONE is presented as a literal media “cockpit” with a huge domed screen (kind of like a mini Omnimax) that the mega-wide-angle view is projected onto, which Dennis claims removes the distortion in the image. But for those of us with access only to iPads, the system adds interesting panning and tilting ability within the image. With the flick of a finger, you can swivel around in the video image to “look” at different things happening in real time, the same way you’d snap your head to the left if you suddenly heard gunfire coming from that direction.
Via Fast Company