So we have had serious nerd levels of excitement over the past week or so.
If you haven’t seen some of the examples of 360 degree videos on Youtube and those that are making their way through Facebook feeds across the world, well, you are missing out.
On 23rd September 2015 Facebook announced compatibility for 360 degree Facebook videos. Youtube had already beaten them to the chase announcing their ability to host 360 videos (which they call spherical videos) well over 6 months ago, but until last week there had been only a small amount of buzz around this immersive experience. Why? Youtube lacks Facebook’s mobile userbase and ability to share this type of content to your friends and family. As a result whilst Youtube had this functionality, it took Facebook’s ability to spread viral content paired with the heavy use of their mobile app to open people’s eyes. To explain, both Youtube and Facebook are now compatible with videos where the user can click and drag, or swipe in any direction to move the camera and view their surroundings in the video. This was cool, but slightly artificial on desktop. It felt too much like an interactive walkthrough or Google maps. The REAL gamechanger is on smartphones. No swiping is necessary. Just tilt or pivot the phone in the direction you would like the camera to move and voila. Seriously, you need to try it. Whilst it is not strictly virtual reality because the camera is always from the fixed viewpoint (you cannot choose where to move), it is a major step in the right direction and opens up incredible opportunities for video marketing. If you are reading this on your mobile have a go at the spherical youtube video below:
Add this to the recent release of Gear VR, the already available Google Cardboard and the much talked about Oculus Rift and suddenly video media has a different feel to it altogether, although as you can see from the video above a VR headset is not absolutely necessary.
We have made no bones about the fact that video will be a major aspect of marketing campaigns now and in the future, and not just for social media marketing. Companies will be able to use this technology to create far more immersive campaigns and to give users an almost real life insight into some of their projects. Clever advertisers will be able to create an element of gamification to the Youtube adverts that have become a staple part of Youtube experience. There have been differing opinions on marketers using this technology with some claiming that it requires almost unlimited budget. However, in the grand scale of things, the cameras and rigs required to shoot these 360 video are not prohibitively expensive. Sure, it may seem a little frivolous for start ups but initial research shows that there are setups that only require 6 GoPro cameras and a rig which in total may set you back between £1500-£2000 excluding the time and expertise needed to stitch the videos together. For video marketers and creative agencies alike this is surely being rapidly included into their investment plans! Furthermore, stitching software like Kolor who were acquired by GoPro comes in at less than £150. Of course there are definitely limitations for the 6 camera rig compared with a 16 camera rig but it is exciting to see that this technology is more available than you might have at first imagined.
So what does this mean for the future?
A lot of things. At the moment most of the 360 or spherical videos on Facebook and Youtube are being produced in tandem with more well known brands and individuals. Facebook teamed up with Star wars to offer a view of their new The Force Awakens film as well as GoPro and even America’s Blue Eagles to kick start the quality of video being offered in 360. Not surprisingly the extreme sports industry is utilising technology to give us viewers an incredible view of their surroundings whether that be in the sky, underwater or inside the barrel of a fearsome wave. It is also not exclusive to video with amazing scenery, the BBC published a 360 video documenting the mourning for the victims of the recent attacks showing the different type of insight that these videos can be used for.
With the astonishing growth of video marketing we expect these videos and the accompanying technology to be quickly adopted by lesser known brands and moreover for it to become more accessible and affordable for these smaller businesses.
A lot of the chitter chatter has been in preparation for virtual reality, and more specifically the push towards VR gaming. Facebook have teamed with Samsung to release their Gear VR, with help from Oculus who Facebook acquired for $2billion in 2014. Virtual reality has more immediate application for the gaming community but the ‘what if’ questions for its applications in video marketing are extensive. Think about the ability to live stream this more immersive type of video. Reality TV will take a completely different turn as well as the gamification of our entertainment – you only need look at the clever use of chat roulette by a few guys who obviously loved gaming! On the other hand imagine being able to view a David Attenborough documentary using this technology or a first person perspective of Bear Grylls show.
For the moment we are happy that the extreme sports industry are welcoming this with open arms to create awesome video content but are also incredibly excited for the future of this type of video and the possibility of working with clients to create one of the most engaging forms of media available!