Should you make 360 degree videos for your business?

A man using a cardboard VR device at his office.

A man using a cardboard VR device at his office.

What are 360 degree videos?

A 360 degree video allows a viewer to watch a video in all directions: up, down and side to side. The technology attempts to mirror the feeling of being in an actual environment. How well 360 degree videos do that is open to question.

Although, the concept of 360 degree videos or Virtual Reality (VR) has been around in sci-fi movie and television for a long time, the reality is less romantic. Currently you need to wear headset to feel fully immersed in the video, but you can also use a mouse to look around a scene just like you do when you use google maps street view. Note: there are many types of 360 degree videos.

The most obvious use of VR is in video games, live concert and sports. What if a football stadium was no longer limited in size to the venue? One fifty yard line seat could be sold to millions of fans.

The excitement about VR mirrors that of 3D technology from just a few years ago and while it’s still around, it failed to live up to its marketing hype.

Here’s a quick list a hurdles that stand in the way for the success of VR:

  1. VR makes you sick. After only a few minutes of experiencing VR a lot of people get nauseous.
  2. There’s not a lot of content, yet.
  3. To get the best experience consumers will need to buy headsets.
  4. The camera gear needed to make VR is just now coming into the marketplace.
  5. Shooting and watching VR will take new ways of thinking for creators and the audience:

“Cinematic grammar no longer applies. There is no frame in which to compose a shot. The viewer can look anywhere…the viewer’s gaze can wander without missing anything important.”
Andrew Marantz (April 25, 2016) The New Yorker Studio 360

The last hurdle seems less like a challenge and more like an opportunity, but it also means that creators will have to be vigilant in their storytelling and not get lost in the technology trap of VR.

There’s much more to VR than entertainment programming.

This is a partial list of the potential uses for VR that match currently produced video types:

  1. Simulation: Train students and professionals in safe and repeatable environments.
  2. Tourism: Show the beauty of vacation spots anywhere in the world.
  3. Meditation: Sip an egg nog, block out the relatives and watch the Christmas yule log in VR.
  4. Real estate: Create a home walk through that can be experienced from miles away with or without a drone.

There’s opportunity in VR videos, so much so that YouTube launched 360° Video channel in early 2016.

The bottom line:

Before you create your own 360 degree video make sure make sure your audience is there too…or you may be caught all alone in a beautiful, but empty world.

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