Welcome to the Future: 360 Video, Drone Footage, and Virtual Reality

Image: porojnicu

It may feel like forever ago that panorama photos were the next big thing in documenting the world that literally surrounds you; however, hold onto your hats, because Vimeo recently launched 360 video. Perhaps, you’ve already heard some of the hype about virtual reality. Now, 360-immersive media is going mainstream with the Vimeo platform and a whole host of tech support to make it a seamless part of your creative production. Even if you can’t be Facebook or Instagram Live, 360 video gives the viewer the experience of seeing a recorded feature as if they were there in person.

What is 360 Video?

Imagine watching a currently normal, soon to be “old-school” video. You are able to see the one view of a scene that the director wants you to see. Think about if you were personally standing in that scene, you would be able to look up, down, right, left, and behind the camera as your eyes and body pivoted around the room. This is the power of 360-video. Instead of the director only showing what they want you to see, you, the viewer, now have the power to see beyond the default orientation to take in the full field of view.

So what does this actually look like? When clicking around Vimeo, 360 videos will be designated with a 360 badge to mark them for your viewing pleasure. Another key sign is the appearance of a compass that you can use to guide you as you navigate the video. Depending on what device you are viewing the video, you can use either the compass or simply tilt your mobile phone to span the different angles. As a result, your view of the video has the power to turn, tilt, and twist, just as if you were viewing it in person. While a little disorienting at first, 360-video takes you inside and immerses you in the content. No longer are you simply viewing a video, you are experiencing it.

How Do I Make it Happen?

From a technical standpoint, making a 360-video requires a bit of extra equipment, a subtle reorientation of your visual mind, and some new features for your editing software.

The Equipment: Almost any video can be great when viewed in 360, so with the spread of this option, take the time now to start investing in the technology you need to make it happen. When it comes to your camera, your first major decision is to determine if you want to create monoscopic (one lens) or stereoscopic (multiple lens and capable of producing depth) video. For most creatives, monoscopic is the norm and can still be viewed in a stereoscopic format. Additional equipment for more advanced videographers might also include a wireless or lav mic and lightstand– remember traditional booms and tripods don’t apply when your video is exposing what’s all around.

The Science: 360-video differs from regular video in that it is equirectangular, or as Vimeo explains, “The source file will resemble a sphere flattened down to 2D rectangle.” While your camera is shooting in 360 scope, in order to edit and view the video on screen, the footage needs to first be stitched together (if using stereoscopic cameras) and then needs to be flattened for editing. Editing softwares are currently adapting to 360, however the two that stand out on the market as compatible with both YouTube and Vimeo are Kolor Autopano and Premiere Pro. Finally, when uploading to the video player, the 360-range of coordinates used when originally filming will be mapped to allow for the final 360-viewing.

The Strategy: When shooting and editing, 360-video requires a bit of extra care to make sure there is continuity and clarity for viewers. Live monitoring apps are a great way to stay on track throughout the filming process, before being surprised in the editing and post-production stages. Although at first filming in 360-view might feel a bit cumbersome and strange, soon you’ll see that the format is actually more intuitive in that it mimics the view of the human eye. If you’re blown away by a view in person, your 360 camera will help you to capture the view for a small audience like your family after vacation or a big audience like the whole World Wide Web.

Get to Know 360-Style Videos (and some others)

Getting Educational:

This video from the American Museum of Natural History displays how 360-video can be used for educational purposes to engage viewers to interact with content. Plus, the colored circles are a great way to guide the viewer to stay on course as they scan around the full scope.

Source: AMNH, Vimeo

Adrenaline Rush:

Discovery shows how 360-video can be used to draw the viewer into the action with this exhilarating roller coaster ride. Not only are you in the seat, you can also look all around at the view of the theme park and the clear, blue sky as they whiz by.

Source: Discovery, YouTube

Drone Footage:

Soaring overhead to give a bird’s-eye view, drone footage has become an innovative way to add a touch of the bigger picture to video. Although still more limited than 360, drones opened up our perspective of looking down rather than always pointing our camera’s up.

Source: VideoHive

Snapchat Spectacles:

Recording from your point of view with a circular camera, Spectacles not only make snapping easy, they use a circular camera to allow you to tilt your camera to view what’s just beyond your usual smartphone screen.

Source: Spectacles, YouTube

Get ready to push both your videography and audience-member boundaries as you explore the new horizons of 360 video. While this trend is still relatively fresh, get in at the start to become a leader in this new form. With museums, artists, and TV channels already starting to use it for their digital content, who knows where the content you produce with these new skills might lead you. Grab your gear and start recording!

Check out the drone footage collection

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Mariel Tavakoli

About the Author Mariel Tavakoli

Mariel is a writer, content marketer, ESL teacher, and writing coach. She loves all things cultural exchange and is always planning her next trip. She tweets @mstavakoli and writes on her website.