Video Trends: 360 v. Virtual Reality

by | Feb 1, 2017 | Putting Your Web to Work, Videography

360 and VR video are the latest in online video content. In case you haven’t yet stumbled upon one of these videos on Facebook or elsewhere online, these are user interactive videos which allow you to turn the camera 360 degrees in real time. VR has the added bonus of being able to move the camera around in a digital space. These two new forms build on the concept of Google Earth which is simply a series of stitched still photographs. Both these video forms are in their infancy and it remains to be seen whether they are a passing craze or a sustainable way to create and deliver content. I will be discussing the differences between 360 video and VR, their respective uses in the current social media market, and then some possible future uses for the technology.

360 video vs. virtual reality

As I explained earlier, virtual reality is, in concept, an expanded version of 360 video. While 360 video allows the viewer to turn and look around in real time, it is ultimately limited to the placement of the camera or the movement of the cameraman. Virtual reality allows the user to take total control of the movement. From this description, VR seems undeniably superior. Unfortunately, VR’s greatest strength, free motion, is also its biggest flaw. It is not possible to shoot live action with real cameras in the VR format, so VR is restricted to digitally rendered environments, for now.

Marketing and social media

So, for the time being, 360 video is the far superior tool for marketing and social media, over its virtual companion. Very few businesses have the resources to create digital environments and there really isn’t much use for it anyway, as it lacks a personal touch when connecting with customers. The most common, current uses for the 360 video are video blogging and online tours. It is a great way to connect with viewers in a blog format. It can be used in a lot of the same ways as a go pr camera with an added interactive feature. Take it with you on the ski slopes , a walk around town, or any kind of adventure and let your audience experience it alongside you. You can take a tour of your facilities and give customers an inside look into your business. Currently, the 360 video is being limited to social media type sharing on smart phones and personal computers, since it requires a level of personal interactivity.

The future of our new formats

People are already looking into new creative ways to use this medium and the possibilities are wide ranging. The first hurdle is to find ways to make this more of a shared, social experience. At the moment, viewers are usually watching on their smart phones by themselves. It is yet to be seen if this technology can be effectively brought to the big screen or the medium screen (television, mobile is the new small screen). VR remains entrenched in the video game world, until we can find a way to user control the camera in live action and real time (people are working on it, believe me). Until then, 360 video remains the most effective and applicable way to bring user controls to the video world.

LINK: Pearl 360

This 360 animation, Pearl, was nominated for an Oscar in 2017! It is the first 360 video to receive a nomination.

Conor Cleary

Conor Cleary

Multi-Media Publishing Manager at Orbit Design
Conor heads up the video and publishing departments at Orbit - overseeing books and short web films through, from the writing stages into polished content. He is always ready to talk about Orbit's video production techniques or the growing world of digital publishing.
Conor Cleary

1 Comment


    This led us to conclude that viewers aren’t always in the mood to interact with 360 video if they’re primarily watching standard video.


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