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Red's new 8K 3D camera uses Hydrogen One phone as viewfinder

Lucid brings software moxie to Red's dual-camera hardware.

Patrick Holland/CNET

On Saturday, high-end cinema camera maker Red held an event to show off its unreleased Hydrogen One phone. Red was eager to let people experience the phone's 4-View holographic screen, which displays 3D content without the need for glasses.

Booths from companies partnering with Red on the phone dotted the perimeter of the event. One of those companies was Lucid, known for making the VR180 LucidCam. In the back of Lucid's booth was a tripod topped with a strange-looking camera sporting a Red logo.

It was a new unreleased 8K Red camera that captures 3D content. Lucid made software for the camera which allows it to simultaneously display 3D video as it's being recorded.

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Red partnered with Lucid to create a high-end 3D cinema camera. It uses the Red Hydrogen One phone and its 4-View screen to show 3D content in real-time.

Patrick Holland/CNET
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Currently, when you record 3D content, you can't see what it actually looks like in 3D unless you wear a VR headset. You're basically shooting blind. The Red Hydrogen One phone's modular design lets it work as a 3D viewfinder for the camera -- no headset needed.

Jim Jannard from Red shows off a titanium prototype of the Red Hydrogen phone at an event.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Red's new camera is geared toward indie filmmakers, professionals and anyone looking for high-end 3D content capture. Lucid, on the other hand, is among a handful of companies including Lenovo and Yi that make consumer "point-and-shoot" style VR180 cameras. Technically, Lucid is a 3D software capture company and its LucidCam is a way to showcase that technology.

"When we released the LucidCam, the number one problem users had was resolution," said Han Jin, CEO and co-founder of Lucid. "They wanted more."

Both Red's new camera and Google's VR180 platform are attempts to solve VR's low-resolution problem. If you view a 4K image in 360 degrees, those pixels are spread out and the image quality is reduced. VR180 takes those 4K pixels and confines them to just 180 degrees, which is effectively twice the pixel density.

What Red and Lucid are doing is another approach. They are throwing high-end hardware at the problem and capturing 3D video in 8K resolution. Jin said that the field of view for the Red camera will be around 120 degrees.

"Red is bringing the best hardware and we are bringing the best software to make it instantaneous for people to capture and view 4-View (3D) content," said Jin.

The new Red camera uses dual 4K cameras with "adjustable lens distances" for 3D focus and zoom. The cameras use a beam splitter, aka mirrors, to capture stereoscopically. If you look at the picture below, you can see a mirror in the wide opening at the bottom of the camera.

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The camera uses mirrors as a beam splitter to align each 4K camera to capture 3D video.

Lucid

Red's cinema cameras have been used to capture 3D before, like for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy. But these were enormous custom camera rigs that took a team of people to operate. Below is a behind-the-scenes video where Jackson shows how he filmed The Hobbit in 3D with Red cameras.

The new shoebox-size 8K 3D camera from Red would be able to replace the rig Jackson used.

Videos from the camera will be able to be viewed on YouTube, Facebook and Red's upcoming Hydrogen Network.

The new 8K 3D camera's name and price are unknown but are expected to be shared toward the end of the year.

Read: I saw the Red Hydrogen One phone with my own eyes

Read: Red Hydrogen phone: Everything we know so far

Read: The 'holographic' Red Hydrogen phone has been delayed -- and improved