Exactly one week ago Facebook introduced a new feature called 360 Video, which started rolling out into the News Feed section of users. At the moment this is only available to desktop and Android users, but it is planned to release on iOS in the coming months.
Last year Facebook bought Oculus VR (for over $2 billion and Facebook stock), the startup company responsible for the virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift. This was Facebook’s first step into creating and interacting with more immersive content. While 360 Video is certainly not on the same level as the Rift (we got the chance to use a demo Oculus Rift earlier this year), it’s certainly a step into the same direction.
What is 360 Video?
It is video content specifically created to interact with – you can change the viewpoint and see the world in any direction. On desktop you click and drag your mouse cursor to change your view, while on mobile platforms you merely need to tilt your phone to experience it. We posted a great example on our Facebook page yesterday, featuring Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Though only appearing on Facebook now, 360 degree video is not a completely new feature. Youtube started showcasing this technology back in March 2015, launching with a series of videos from companies such as Red Bull Racing. Video has been a big focus of Facebook recently, one which has been very successful for the social media company, even competing with YouTube in terms of views. With 360 Video available on both platforms now, one of YouTube’s slight advantages has been taken away.
How are these videos created?
These videos are made by using “a special set of cameras is used to record all 360 degrees of a scene simultaneously”. Which sounds similar to the infamous “bullet time” scenes made popular by The Matrix movie in the late 1990s, or the Max Payne series of video games in the early 2000s.
Facebook seems to have cherry-picked a select number of brands to highlight their new video feature (such as GoPro, Saturday Night Live, and Discovery to name a few). You can use the hashtag #Facebook360 to search for similar video content on Facebook.
Make Your Own
But these videos won’t just be limited to large production companies. Regular consumers can also jump into the latest video craze. If you’re looking to create your own 360 degree content, you’ll need to invest in a specialised video camera, such asthe Giroptic 360cam (available to pre-order at $499.00), or the Ricoh Theta (£269.99). Last year Bubl raised almost 350,000 Canadian Dollars for their Bublcam via Kickstarter (the project goal was 100,000 Canadian Dollars).
A new era of video content has arrived, and we’re looking forward to seeing what companies will be producing. From exploring our world, to marketing materials, there are sure to be many ways of utilising this technology. It will also be interesting to see how both Facebook and Youtube compete even further on the video front.