Capturing the world in the same way as we experience it is now easier than ever before with 360-degree video technologies.
Taking photography and video to the next level, this kind of technology has numerous benefits across a broad range of visual genres and commercial sectors.
360° video – what is it?
Recordings that are captured typically using an omnidirectional camera, 360-degree videos present a field of view which covers the entire sphere surrounding the equipment. This is very similar to a panorama but without the need to manually move the camera to capture the content.
Unlike a traditional camera set-up – with a field of view of approximately 100° capturing light as it falls onto the focal point – a 360° camera rig allows for light to be captured from all directions. This widens the field of view massively so that playback becomes a truly immersive experience.
360-degree content can be played back on flat screen displays or on innovative spherical devices. Playback can also be controlled by clicking and dragging the moving image, adjusting the direction of view as desired.
It is hardly surprising that 360-degree videos are becoming increasingly popular commercially, with social media platforms such as Facebook enabling these videos to be viewed via their News Feed function on desktop and mobile devices.
Capturing life in the round
Applications for 360-degree content are various and always evolving.
Perhaps one of the most impressive things about this kind of content is how it seems to be transforming how we capture our experiences of the world.
Travel is a popular subject for photography and video anyway but the ability to capture where you are and what you are doing from all directions simultaneously allows yourself and others to relive the experience in an immersive way.
A photograph offers a snapshot of time but you are limited in terms of what you can see. 360-degree video enables you to view something that is moving without being resigned to a particular field of view. You have the freedom to choose which angle to view the action from.
Of course, bearing witness to an event that is known the world over – like the recent royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at Westminster Abbey, London – may be rare and plausible only for some. A 360-degree video shared by one of the well-wishers lining the streets of Windsor to watch the fairytale carriage procession, enables others to immerse themselves in the pomp and pageantry of this iconic occasion.
Similarly, our own 360 work aboard the Congo River Rapids – the premier water ride at Alton Towers Resort, Staffordshire – lets you experience the fun of swirling currents, twin waterfalls, and a pitch-black tunnel.
The first of its kind to be recorded at the park, Alton Towers shared the video across their various social media channels as an exciting source of exposure for one of their rides.
Indeed, the advent of 360-degree technology is becoming more widely used in professional circles, particularly in advertising. During an age where consumers are constantly being bombarded with ads – on TV, on their computers, on social media – brands need to be able to do something extraordinary in order to gain and maintain attention from their target audience.
The use of 360-degree video by a number of leading brands seem to reverse the logic of advertising to a certain extent. Rather than delivering information as quickly and concisely as possible in a visually impactful way, this emerging medium encourages viewers to spend more time engaging with the ad.
Ford’s ‘ReRendezvous’ campaign for their new Ford Mustang takes viewers on a stunning 360-degree tour around the streets Paris.
A reboot of the classic 1976 cult film, C’était un rendez-vous (It was a Date), the video takes you on a tour of the iconic city and its cobbled streets in a Mustang – a journey that closely replicates the original film.
Where to next?
Indeed, this cutting-edge 360-degree video technology sits at the forefront of innovation and creativity.
As we have written about before, 360 is also enhancing ‘virtual reality’ gameplay, providing a richer degree of interactivity in virtual environments. Not only useful for the gaming industry, though, applications in areas such as journalism, narrative & educational content are already being trialled.
A thought-provoking example of this kind of educational media can be found in the virtual reality series by The Guardian. In their 360-degree video entitled ‘The Party,’ you can experience how a birthday party can be a stressful environment for a teenager on the autism spectrum. The visual and auditory effects in the film (you can hear what Layla is thinking and feeling) is based on scientific research about symptoms seen in autistic individuals.
These kind of virtual worlds are not only entertaining, then, but can be incredibly informative when applied in the right way.
With this level of innovation and creativity at our fingertips, there is no doubt that we will be able to experience more and more through virtual means in the future. Who knows where this could lead.