Videos come in all kinds of aspect ratios such as 16: 9 wide and 21: 9 ultra wide. They’re pretty immersive, but what about 360-degree video?
Yes, it is possible to shoot spherical video that really puts the viewer right in the center of the action, but obviously the equipment we use to create a more traditional video is not the right solution. So, if you are interested in creating or watching panoramic videos, here’s everything you need to know.
360 video is not (exactly) VR
This spherical video format is often associated with virtual reality, but there is a lot of controversy over whether non-interactive video content like this is really a form of VR. For practical purposes, you’ll hear this kind of video called â€œVR video,â€ which is true in the sense that VR headsets are designed to use those videos.
However, since 360-degree videos are not interactive or computer-generated, there is some controversy about the extent to which we can actually combine them with VR. So while this media format can be called VR video by convention, it’s good to know that there is a clear distinction.
Why choose a 360 video?
Each aspect ratio or video format has its own unique attributes that make it suitable for one purpose or another. As stated many times before, Wednesday is a message.
This type of video is ideal when you want to convey what it is like to stand in a certain place. Unlike traditional video, in 360-degree video, the viewer can choose what deserves attention. You can’t direct their point of view with cropping like traditional video formats.
This means it’s best to use this video format for content that doesn’t rely on accurate framing and benefits the most from immersion. Instructional videos, concerts and theatrical performances are good examples. Sports videos have also become popular media, and tours of museums or other travel destinations are also ideal for panoramic video.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use this immersive video to tell a story, but it needs a new visual vocabulary to properly guide the story, something that was not taught in the past in film school for obvious reasons. P>
As you can imagine, a conventional camera cannot create such a three-dimensional video. To capture spherical video, you need a special setup. However, there is no standard for this. Some rigs are literally several conventional cameras glued together. Then, special software is used to combine the various overlapping camera images into one 360-degree video.
There are also now specialized 360 and 180 degree cameras that use fisheye lenses to convert the incoming image to a standard sensor. The software then removes the known lens distortion to provide a clear image, but one that gives you a three-dimensional view of what was captured.
In general, the fewer cameras needed to create the final image, the more seamless it will be. The use of improvised multi-camera rigs greatly increases the likelihood of docking errors. Which manifests itself in the form of visible cuts in the final image, where everything does not quite match.
For the average person on the street, the best place to start is with the Insta360 line of smartphone-connected cameras.
Computer-generated 360-degree video
Using cameras isn’t the only way to create panoramic video. You will find many examples created using 3D animation software or from video games with a customizable 180 or 360 degree field of view.
Obviously, it is quite easy to create stereoscopic video this way, since you have complete control over the rendered world. It is also a good way to bring non-interactive computer graphics to hardware platforms that have no hope of running natively on local hardware.
Single and Stereo Video
Another important subdivision in 360-degree video formats is monoscopic and stereoscopic video. Typically, monoscopic footage is not 3D. Although you have a giant video that surrounds you as a viewer, it is still flat. Stereoscopic 360-degree video gives each eye a unique channel that your brain interprets as a 3D image.
Obviously, 3D video is more attractive, but much more difficult when it comes to equipment. Basically, you want two independent 360-degree cameras set at the right distance from each other. Cameras that can shoot stereoscopic video like this one are a bit more expensive, so most of the video you’ll find right now is not 3D.
360 Â° video editing
Basically, 360-degree video is no different from any other digital video file. So, in principle, you can edit it with any software that can read the video codec used to encode it. However, the video will appear as a distorted mess, shown as a normal frame.
Software designed to edit or play this type of video will convert the footage into the correct spherical shape so that everything looks as it should. Which means it’s best to use an editing kit that knows how to do it.
More often than not, your camera comes bundled with some kind of editor. What specific features are available will depend on the specific application.
Professional editing packages such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro natively support 180-degree and 360-degree video editing, like other major video editing solutions. If you already have one of these programs, you may already be working with this format.
So once you’ve recorded and edited your 360-degree masterpiece, where can you upload it for others to watch? Believe it or not, YouTube already supports several panoramic video formats.
There are also several mobile apps that also support 360-degree video, but of course, the user must download the video to their device and cannot stream it.
In addition, there are specific platforms that each VR headset brand uses. If you want people with these particular headsets to see what you have done, you need to be technical and have access.
Watch a 360 video
There are two ways to use this kind of video. Either with a VR headset (hence the VR fusion) or on a regular screen. Using a headset is the most immersive way to watch 360-degree videos. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive headset. Google Cardboard can be used with YouTube to get basic immersive 360-degree video. Yes, even in stereoscopic mode!
Another way is to just watch the video on a regular screen. On desktops, you can browse with a mouse, and on mobile phones, you can swipe to the sides or use the phone’s built-in motion sensors.
Our favorite examples of 360 Â° video
Now that you know the most important information about this exciting video format, all you have to do is highlight a few great video examples that you can try out right now.
Start with live music and watch Childish Gambino’s â€œMe and Your Momâ€ ballet. I set the camera low to simulate being on stage, but other videos even put the camera on the stage so you can stand with the musicians and see the huge crowd.
This commercial for the new Doctor Who series is both an example of CGI and a story clip. You don’t even need to be a fan of the show to appreciate how cool this concept is.
And finally, here’s an awesome skydiving video that demonstrates how you can put someone in a place where few can truly feel. We simply do not recommend doing this for those who are afraid of heights. There are many more videos to try, and if nothing else, consider buying an inexpensive Google Cardboard to enjoy immersively if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a VR headset, that is!