ASU graduate student tackles spatial video's big problem

Talbert Herndon aims to provide video editors with a new tool for 3D storytelling


Man and woman wearing wedding attire and large goggles pose with another man.

Luminosity Lab grad student Talbert Herndon (center) with his 3D wedding actors. Courtesy photo

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When it comes to filming on a smartphone, most people shoot a short, single clip of video, then share it as a message or on social media. A few might take the time to snip several video shots together to tell a story.

But newer devices, like Apple’s iPhone 15, will now shoot three-dimensional, or “spatial,” video. These clips have to be viewed through wrap-around goggles to get the true 3D effect, and they present a challenge to anyone trying to edit them into a creative sequence to tell a story, such as a wedding video.

Talbert Herndon is hustling to solve the problem, and artificial intelligence is one of his tools.

Herndon, a data science graduate student working inside the Luminosity Lab at Arizona State University, is building a software called SpatialCut.

It’s designed for video editors and other users to create and control their story-making in spatial video content. His goal is to use AI to give the software an ability to understand and organize the raw spatial video clips, and then build a story based on the voice or text commands of the creator.

Video by Steve Filmer

Herndon has been busy building interest in his new idea, attending events like Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and the Augmented World Expo this June. Big names in cinema cameras, hardware and software like Black Magic Design and Canon are pushing out new equipment to support spatial filmmaking, including stereoscopic cameras and lenses.

“A lot of interest and eyes are on it,” Herndon said. “So I want make sure I deliver on what I promised, because in the demo, we we’re making promises, like you're going to be able to fully edit visual videos. So I’m continuously working on it, 24/7.”

He and a video production team also spent several days in Arizona filming a mock wedding scenario. This wedding vignette is now taking the shape of a product promotion video. The wedding scenario will help creators and the tech industry understand his spatial video editing platform.

Herndon is inviting users to try the beta version of his new software. He predicts that as the price for 3D headsets drops over time, the demand for spatial storytelling will only go up.

“Spatial videos will be the future,” he said.

Herndon’s wedding video demo promo, courtesy SpatialCut

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