360 video burst into the scene in 2016. But what are 360 videos? Do they need a special camera? Is it expensive to create? Is it something I should be creating for my 2017 marketing strategy? We are often asked these questions from our clients, so we figured we would put together a little post that may help answer them for any folks that have been thinking about testing the waters with 360 video.

What is 360 Video?

360 Video puts your audience right in the centre of the action. Rather than flat 2D videos we are used to watching, where the audience is directed where to watch, 360 Video provides the viewer with complete control and immersion of the experience. With 360 Video, the audience is centred in the video experience and is able to look anywhere and observe the world around them from every angle. This certainly poses a new challenge in storytelling, but offers immense opportunity for immersion and audience engagement.

What Are The Benefits of 360 Video?

Virtual Reality has been a hot topic this past year and holiday season. With Google, Facebook, Sony, Samsung, and HTC all launching consumer VR experiences, Virtual Reality has quickly become the hot new technology. And 360 Video is the primary content format to be created for the VR world. Nielsen reported that VR prompted a 27% higher reaction in users and kept them engaged for 34% longer than traditional ads. Clearly, these experiences can enhance storytelling experiences and increase user engagement.

Do you need a special camera?

Yes. While 360 video can be captured using a collection of cameras rigged together (see the GoPro Omni) there are newer and cheaper VR cameras on market that will make post production easier than ever. To get started, I recommend something like the Samsung Gear 360. It is light, inexpensive, portable, and great to get started with.

Is it expensive?

There is no simple answer to this one. There are several factors that go into the cost of the 360 video being produced. One of them is the camera itself. For example, the 360 Eye Professional camera rig from 360 Designs starts at $135,000. The Ozo retails at $60,000 and the GoPro Odyssey $15000, but the 360Fly and Pixpro retails at around $400. So if you are going to be buying the equipment yourself and your photography team is going to produce the content the cost of the camera is a big factor in final cost. Cost will also vary depending on the length of the video, location, rooms filmed, voice over, custom animation to be created and so on. For your first foray, don’t overcomplicate it. Think about how a 360 experience can enhance the story you are trying to tell.

Best Practises For Creating 360 Videos

Storytelling in a 360 context is a new challenge. With the concept of a frame being completely eliminated, the possibilities are endless. But even though the medium is new, there is no harm in keeping a few pointers in mind while creating 360 video content.

Careful Camera Placement

One of the most critical aspects is the placement of the camera itself. Remember this is going to be from the vantage point for your audience. Be particularly careful of where the camera is placed from a storytelling perspective. For instance with a VR ad for an automobile, it is important the camera is placed where the driver would be sitting. If it is placed on the dashboard the experience can be very jarring. This should also factor into the distance between the camera and the subject. If it’s too close, the subject will appear jarring and imposing. If it is too far away, it may be hard to see where the action is.

Create Smooth Transitions

One thing to note when creating 360 videos is that it’s important to keep the transitions from one angle to another smooth.

Abrupt tilts and pans which are common with a normal camera will create a nauseating experience for your audience, especially if they are using headsets to view the content.

Another factor that goes into creating a smooth viewing experience is the editing. There needs to be enough time for the audience is take stock of the scenario and immerse themselves into the experience before a new angle is shown or a new action is introduced.

Lighting, Props and Sets

With 360 video there is no need for a ‘behind the scenes’ crew. What you see is literally what you get. It would be ideal to use the most natural lighting and sets because this is going to be captured in the 360 video. For instance you can’t have a huge reflector positioned for optimum lighting when you are shooting a 360 video of a hotel room. That’s going to be a part of the video.

Using Graphics and Texts

While using graphics or text in your 360 video, be sure to include them in all the four quadrants of the 360 video as you cannot be sure which quadrant the viewer is going to be looking at. And make sure it is visible even when someone is tilting the video up and down or sideways.

Do Not Ignore Sounds, but Don’t Overdo It Too

Be it voiceovers, or actual sounds like birds chirping if its is a 360 video of a picturesque resorts, the audio effects of your 360 video can be very important and direct your audience’s attention. Make sure that the audio supplements the video and augments the video rather than interrupting the immersive experience.

The time is now to experiment with 360 video. So if you have a 360 Video waiting to be made or have a 360 video you want to show to the world, don’t wait. Check out how you can leverage OmniVirt to power and distribute your 360 Videos. Here is a great reel to see how this new medium can be leveraged

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