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How to view 360 videos

360 video is a relatively new medium and is slightly limited in viewing options. As time goes by more and more options will become available, such as more VR headsets and potential television integration. How the viewer will be consuming your content is a crucial consideration when creating any video, but particularly for 360 video production. A video will need to be shot at a higher resolution if you plan to use a VR headset like the HTC vive. That resolution will hurt the experience if you expect people to watch on cell phone via a 4G connection. In this post we have outlined the viewing platforms currently available and some possible use cases for any business.

VR HEADSETS

Virtual Reality headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have just recently hit the market. They may be the highest priced viewer, but they also provided the highest resolution and most immersive experience. With a VR headset you will not only need the headset but also a pretty powerful PC. Oculus, for instance, suggests a PC with at least ab NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater graphics card 8GB+ of RAM. Your average office computer isn’t going to cut it. This platform is the only one with the ability to interact with the video. Since the VR headsets available now are primarily for gaming they have some kind of input method. From traditional mouse and keyboard to head tracking and motion controllers these headsets allow you to interact with objects in virtual space.

We only suggest a VR headset for the most robust of budgets. The equipment and development can stack up quickly and without that investment it is hard to capitalize on the capabilities of the platform. We would also suggest a pretty tech savvy audience. That large investment may fall flat if the audience isn’t energized and motivated by cutting-edge technology.

GOOGLE CARDBOARD

Cardboard is Google’s answer to the steep initial investment in VR hardware. Cardboard allows you to use your cell phone to view 360 videos on YouTube in a more immersive way. As the name implies Carboard is a headset made of cardboard. Your phone easily slides in front of two lenses that enlarge the display and bend the image to mimic your natural sight. The video is also split in two to allow for a slight 3D effect. The experience is similar to the view master toys with video.

Google Cardboard offers many opportunities for companies looking to deliver 360 video. The headsets can be custom printed with company logos, links to the videos or whatever else you can think of. Since the user just needs a smart phone running android or iOS, the only investment needed from you is to buy the cardboard headset/s. Cardboard makes for a perfect leave-behind at conferences and tradeshows. You can also use cardboard as a mailer to distinguish yourself from the other sales materials being sent to your customers. Overall Carboard is a great place to start for most companies since the investment is relatively low while allowing for a more immersive experience.

YOUTUBE ON MOBILE AND DESKTOP

YouTube was one of the earliest adopters of 360 video. Uploading and viewing 360 video is very easy. On desktop you click and drag the mouse on the video to change your viewing angle. On mobile you can drag your finger or move the device around to change the camera. Both are seamless and have the backing of YouTubes very robust servers for what are very big files. Ultimately the only downfall to 360 video on YouTube is the discovery process. 360 video is so new many people have not experienced watching one before. YouTube does little to help new users understand how the controls work.

Overall YouTube is the best place to display your 360 videos and disperse them to the largest audience. You may want to start the video with a brief intro showing how to view a 360 video on YouTube similar to what we did on this 360 video for BreedLove Dobbs.

FACEBOOK

Facebook may not have been the first site to adopt 360 videos, but they have done the best job of introducing people to the medium. When you upload the video to Facebook it automatically senses that the video is intended to be viewed in 360°. They then walk you through the steps to make sure the video starts at the correct angle. When users first see your video in their feed it automatically plays and has a 360 symbol on it. The camera also sways slightly to show the user there is more to see than just the first angle. This small tweak to how they display the video instanly catches the eye and engages more users to explore your video.

Facebook’s videos servers and content housing need some work but we recommend all our clients also upload their video to Facebook if their target audience is active on the network at all. You can also run Facebook ads for your 360 video now.

 

If you would like to experience 360 videos checkout our playlist on YouTube here.