We’ve designed a modular system that can expand as your needs allow, or be repurposed into other uses if needed. StitchBox™ is is a top of the line, rack mounted server computer, designed specifically for live 360 stitching, with best-in-class components and performance. It has been rigorously tested under field use to ensure reliability in a professional environment. Finding a stable solution for live 360 stitching of video is hard. Components that are supposed to work together – don’t, and only through extensive trial and error have we found a solution that works reliably, with performance that we feel comfortable using on ‘big brand’ productions.
We’ve gone with a PC based design because at the moment, there are no hardware based stitching devices on the market. At some point there will be standalone, FPGA/ASIC stitchers, but they will likely not be upgradeable as resolutions continue upwards. A PC based solution (with server grade components) is the only viable option now, and for the foreseeable future, and in the fast moving industry of VR, such an approach offers modularity, expandability, and protects your investment for many years.
All-in-one 360 cameras with built-in stitching are a poor solution for professional grade productions. There are inevitably compromises that prevent you from doing what you need, or achieving decent quality, and the equipment itself cannot be repurposed when the ‘next camera’ comes out. It becomes a lost investment. All of our equipment is designed to be repurposed so that your investment in the equipment is fully protected moving forward. You can use StitchBox™ as a top-of-the-line video editing workstation, live production workstation, or 3D graphics/VFX machine. In fact you can do all these things when the equipment is not in use on a production.
At the moment, 4k is the standard for live 360 stitching, and is the maximum resolution of YouTube 360. StitchBox™ can handle 4k now, and 6k or 8k in future (with easy component upgrades).
Our own Mini EYE™ 3 camera offers 6k of live stitched resolution, so as a company we have standardized on StitchBox™ as the basis for our own live 360 production work, and we wish to bring that same quality and workflow to others.
The reality is that good quality, live stitching, requires tremendous horsepower, and with each resolution uptick, the horsepower requirement goes up. By abstracting this horsepower to components in a PC architecture, this solution has longevity. You can always upgrade the GPU, CPU, I/O components later, and the Vahana live stitching software will improve during ownership.
Due to the horsepower requirements for stitching at these resolutions, it is not feasible (or would be good practice) to stream (encode) from the same device. Streaming also takes lots of horsepower, which is why we developed a companion 2-in-1 live streaming and production studio device – MixBox™. This allows the possibility for professionally produced multi-camera productions, as MixBox™ can handle 3 live 360 camera inputs out of the box.
Live 360 Stitching Operation
The job of StitchBox™ is to take up to three 4k (or HD) video outputs from a professional 360 camera like Mini EYE™ 3, and live stitch them into a single 4k 360, fully spherical video. The box takes unstitched video in, and sends stitched video out, in a fraction of a second, using industry standard 4k SDI connections. Using SDI means the ability to use an entire world of professional broadcast equipment – for live grading, wireless transmission, signal splits, converting to fiber optic cable for long cable runs, easy ISO recording (recording individual camera feeds), switching, mixing, and much more.
SDI on its own offers significantly longer and more reliable cable runs than HDMI, at least 100 feet at 4k, and longer with simple repeaters. It’s also far more robust, offering ‘locking’ connections which are essential.
SDI is in use in television and broadcast facilities all over the world. You can readily convert 4K SDI to fiber optic cable, for cable runs up to 2000 feet and beyond, and SDI is readily compatible with pre-installed trunking at broadcast facilities, arenas, theaters, studios and stadiums worldwide. It’s how we did Copa America in live 360 at the Houston Stadium, tapping into the stadium fiber.
StitchBox™ Live 360 Stitching Features
- Completely pre-configured for live 360 stitching of Mini EYE™ 3 using Vahana, the best in class live stitching software
- Other 360 cameras can also be used
- Takes up to 3 camera inputs and live stitches up to 4k output (6k or 8k possible with future component upgrades)
- Live stitched output resolution depends on the input resolution and lens used – 3k 60 fps is possible with Micro Cinema Cameras, 4k 30 fps with Micro Studio Cameras (6k potential in future)
- Inputs are 4K SDI (6G-SDI) using industry standard BNC/SDI connectors
- Output is 4K SDI (12G-SDI) using industry standard BNC/SDI connector
- Format support (Video In): All common resolutions and frame rates up to 2160p30, including 1080p60
- Format support (Video Out): All common resolutions and frame rates up to 2160p60 (4k 60)
- Audio support 1: Camera audio (or an external mic connected to the camera) is fed in through SDI and out via SDI (i.e. with the video signal)
- Audio support 2: External audio can be fed in/out via a USB or Firewire audio interface (e.g. Motu, Focusrite, PreSonus)
- Generally compatible with any 2 head or 3 head, 360 camera that uses SDI (or HDMI via HDMI-to-SDI adapters – not included)
- Point and click interface, very easy to use (learning curve: 1 day)
- PC-based architecture allows for upgrades and repurposing
- Best in class PC and server components throughout (your IT person/department will concur)
- Broadcast quality professional video I/O components from Blackmagic Design (OEM partners)
- World’s easiest-to-use live stitching software – Vahana – pre-installed, licensed, and tested for reliability (also OEM partners)
- Works great with MixBox™ – its companion product, a 2-in-1 device that offers a full live production studio in a box, and switching/mixing between multiple live 360 video sources (e.g the output of multiple StitchBoxes) as well as 4k encoding/streaming to YouTube Live 360, Facebook, or a CDN. The 4K encoder part alone can easily run $50k with other company’s solutions e.g. Elemental. Easier to use too.
- Rack-mounted in a shock mounted flight case and suitable for flying as checked luggage. Weight is around 52-55 lbs (generally no excess luggage charges).
- Included setup assistance and technical consultation – up to 2 hours initial phone consultation, and 1 year email support
- Uses standard 19″ rack mounting, can be rehoused in a different flight case or if the first one ever gets damaged
- Plug and play ease of use, all locking connections, broadcast grade kit!
Stitchbox™ Package Contents
- StitchBox™ 4U rack mounted professional live 360 video stitcher
- 1 year full Vahana license included (renewal cost currently $1295 per year). Dongle included.
- All needed software pre-installed, fully licensed and tested
- WiFi adapter included
- Rubber shock mounted 4U flight case
- Very high quality keyboard and mouse in convenient travel case
- Locking AC power lead (US/UK/EU/AU plug as options – kettle type lead)
Other Items to Consider
- MixBox™ Our recommended 4k live production studio in a box and live streaming encoder (Essentially required for live internet streaming – or use another live streaming encoder e.g Elemental)
- Mini EYE™ 3 professional live 360 video camera (Micro Studio Camera version strongly recommended)
- 4K SDI Cable Kit
- 4K Fiber Optic Cable Kit
- HDMI to SDI adapters – we recommend these (If using Micro Cinema Cameras or another HDMI based 360 camera)
- A computer monitor (Device supports 4k monitor via DisplayPort or HDMI connection)
- Estimated Shipping Timeframe: 3-4 weeks from order finalization (each box is custom made and we consult with you before starting). A rush service is available.
- Instant online ordering is available to the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden
- Please contact us if you are in a different country and we will discuss available options for delivery and customs clearance
- Changes to specification can be accommodated
- Item weight including flight case (not including accessories): 53-55 lbs
- Shipping weight: 65 lbs
- Dimensions: 25″ wide x 13″ tall x 23″ deep
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about StitchBox™. We have not yet updated our FAQ yet as it is a new product.