360-Degree VR: Virtually Changing the Face of Entertainment

Since the 2015 Sundance Film Festival’s premiere of VR shorts Lost, Birdly, and Project Syria, the world of storytelling has dramatically changed. Audiences are now able to virtually immerse themselves in the story world created by filmmakers through the use of 360-degree virtual reality camera technology. 360 VR is becoming the latest trendsetter in video and film production. Taking viewers everywhere from cliff diving in Peru to fantasy robot worlds in the latest festival favorite, 360 VR is setting the stage for a transformation in the way we interact and engage. Combining science with entertainment, companies like Oculus and Facebook’s Story Studio have revolutionized the way artists and gamers create media.

Lost VR

Using overlapping areas on multiple cameras, videographers are able to capture images in a 360×180 field. These images are then stitched together into one panoramic video, similar to a “world map” geometric projection in 4K resolution. Other projection effects include the “little planet” and circular fisheye effects, for more immersive dome theater viewing. Programs such as VideoStitch Studio can be downloaded in demo mode from the web for free, however; without paying for the associated license, a watermark will be present on the output videos. Completed content will be in the format of regular video files or stream. This content is then remapped to show only the field of view seen by the user. The product comes ready to use and works with most up-to-date browsers and Adobe Flash Players.

While most smartphones can view HD 360 videos in native applications, the battle continues between two major companies, LG and Samsung, as to who will dominate the VR smartphone market. While LG’s 360 VR headset (compatible with the LG G5 phone) is lighter weight than Samsung’s Gear VR brand (compatible with the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge), its design creates awkward viewing for the user by comparison. The Samsung Gear VR unit also affords viewers more VR content due to its association with the Facebook’s Story Studio and Oculus’ VR library. LG’s VR unit has also proven to perform poorly in comparison, with only low resolution video quality and distorted pictures. Gear VR was proven to have limited to no bugs in its newest inception and is cheaper than the LG unit, making it more user-friendly and desirable to buyers.

Samsung Gear VR Headset

From the 360-degree VR innovations come the need for production companies that can combine this new format of footage with dynamic effects and editing in a way that will fascinate audiences. YouTube and Facebook have joined the race to support uploading high resolution 360 VR content. As the technology quickly advances, these social media giants must adapt more rapidly than the other to attract the frenetic demographic clamoring to capture their experiences and share them with the world.

360 Camera