For the last century, so much of filmmaking comes down to the universal restriction of what fits on a screen. The art of it is in large part asking these questions: What will we choose to show, what will we choose to exclude, and what will we choose to imply by how we frame a shot?
Unlike the passing fads of 3-D glasses and 4-D experiences at the movies, with 360 virtual reality we’re in the midst of a bona fide revolution in visual storytelling. What does it mean for mediamakers when our viewers are no longer restricted to the 90-degree slice of a scene that we typically show them? Perhaps for content creators the most exciting potential of an interactive, immersive experience is our favorite buzzword: engagement. Will the added autonomy of being able to explore different narratives in a 360-degree scene, depending on what they choose to look at, entice viewers to really engage with what they’re watching? Everyone seems to be betting on it.
This period is analogous to what happened when synced sound became the new normal in the 1930s. On the one hand, a whole new layer of depth was added to the experience. On the other, with the new expectation that we would be able to hear the ambient noise of whatever was happening on screen, filmmakers faced a whole new host of production challenges.
Google’s 5-minute long 360 video Help, for example, took 18 months, 200 terabytes and 15 million rendered frames to create.
With 8k cameras such as the InstaPro 360 coming onto the market at reasonable prices, 360 VR is no longer limited to production houses with $60k camera budgets. VR headsets may not yet be widely used but both Facebook and Youtube support 360 video now–especially useful for content creators hoping to reach social media audiences. Now is the time to experiment.
And here’s another one of our favorites in 360 VR from the NYTimes.