360 Video is a video that allows the viewer to see a 360 degree view from the location that the video is recorded. You can see the view from the top of a building and look 360 degrees around as if you were really standing on that building.
One of my favorite examples is from Red Bull. Red Bull is a good brand to follow for cutting edge ideas. They take us inside of a Rallycross race:
Documentary type footage is the easiest to create of all the different story genres using the 360 video. Google has been playing with this idea of 360 imagery for years with their Google Maps product.
360 video is a form of virtual reality, also known as VR
2017 is being called the year of 360 video. I expect some will call 2018 the same thing. YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat all offer the ability to upload 360 video. The challenge is that a good 360 video is hard to record. Even Hollywood is struggling as to how to tell a good story with this format.
With standard video, it’s easy to get the viewer to focus on what you want them to because they only have one direction to look and the viewer knows that if they turn away from their TV, computer, or mobile device, they run the risk of missing part of the story. The issue is that with 360 degrees of viewing space, the story needs to be all around the viewer for it to be truly 360.
Brands using 360 video are getting good results
This may be due to the newness of the format. One of the big challenges 360 video faces is that it requires the audience to be in the mood to interact with the video. If they don’t want to do the work, or if they don’t understand how to interact with the format, it could cause the viewer leave the experience.
My fear is that if brands don’t find a way to be creative with 360 video, it will kill it for everyone. If there is nothing of value in the first few 360 videos you watch, it would be hard to get the audience to come back to watch other 360 videos. There is also a risk that 360 could become gimmicky; which would not add any long term value to the format.
To really get an immersive experience with 360 video, you have to wear a headset; which makes some people feel nauseous and, dare I say, goofy looking to those around you who are not wearing a headset. All of this being said, 360 video is a truly unique experience and brands who jump on board early will have an advantage over those who wait.
Social media platforms are supporting and encouraging 360 video
Facebook is putting a lot of money behind VR and 360 video. One of the latest things they’ve done has been to develop a 360 camera called the Facebook Surround 360 camera. It has 17 cameras. It makes it easier to combine all the video footage together to make a 360 video. This is in addition to all the other technologies they own in the VR world.
Snapchat has begun supporting 360 video as well, allowing videos that are 10 seconds long. Advertisers are saying that they are getting higher engagement from 360 video on Snapchat than they do with a regular video. One reason 360 video is working so well on Snapchat is the 10-second limit. It may be forcing brands to be more creative to fit the limited time frame. It’s easy to bore someone with a long video but even a bad video is better when it is only 10 seconds long.
YouTube is working on a new format of video called VR180; which is capturing 180 degrees around you. This means that video creators only need to worry about what is in front of them. YouTube’s goal is to make VR content easier to create. They are actually working with camera manufacturers to create affordable cameras so anyone can make an 180 video. Look for these cameras in stores this winter. 180 video will be less work for the viewer, whether they’re wearing a headset or viewing the video on their phone. VR180 also supports livestreaming so creators and viewers can be together in real time.
Brands can get the most of 360 video by focusing on the strengths of the technology. This means you need to make sure the story you are going to tell is right for 360 video. It’s great for putting people inside an experience where they can put themselves in the character’s place. It seems like 360 video should be a big win for Realtors. Plan your video with your target audience in mind and make sure to stay focused on your core message. It’s not right for every story or brand. But it should be a conversation your brand has to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to do something different for your viewers.