Yesterday, on 23rd September, Facebook unveiled the 360-degree video feature,
a revolutionized way of viewing videos in your news feed; a step beyond the second dimension.
Now users can post and view immersive videos shot on 360-degree cameras on the social network.
This major head start by Facebook in virtual reality has combined photographic videos and gaming, opening a world of possibilities to create and view content like never seen before.
Here is a quick low-down on this feature inviting a world of change:
WHAT IS IT?
The 360-degree video rollout allows the users to view videos from any angle they choose to, offering a rich virtual reality experience. So if you couldn’t get enough of the Skrillex concert you missed or your best friend’s football game, your eyes won’t be able to tell as you pan and tilt through every move as if for real. Facebook has tweaked itself to end your FOMO.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
1. On your PC, you can drag around the video with your cursor, and on mobile devices you do it by dragging with your finger or even just by rotating your device. This means that when the video is playing on Facebook, you can choose any desired angle you want to see it from.
2. As you hold up your phone, the 360 video will follow you as you turn while your phone’s gyroscope will pick up your swiveling motions and convert them into moving your perspective.
3. Creating 360-degree videos and animation require a special array of cameras to record all degrees of a scene simultaneously. Right now, spherical videos are not that common as the camera rigs required to shoot them are expensive and bulky.
As part of the official rollout, Facebook unveiled a few minutes glimpse of the upcoming movie- “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” wherein the one minute video puts viewers in the driver’s seat of Rey’s speeder bike, as the craft zooms past the desert and the wreckage, taking you on a virtual tour of the Jakku planet.
You spin in a circle and the desert spins right around with you.
Facebook has also released videos of a day-in-the-life of LeBron James’ workout; Vice’s on-the-ground reporting in Afghanistan; head underwater as Discovery finds sharks looking for food, among others.
Each video provides the users a completely spherical-that is, 360-degree-way to explore a different world altogether.
Facebook took the plunge into virtual reality by buying Oculus VR, a startup, for $2 billion in March, last year.
Will Cathcart, a director of product management, says the videos represent the next logical step for the News Feed. Text led to photos, which led to video, which led to autoplay video.
“Over time we’ve seen the modes of sharing shift to become more mobile, and more immersive, ” he says. “Here what we’ve done is look at all the really cool 360-degree video content people are creating and think through, what’s the right way to bring that experience to News Feed.”
Facebook’s News Feed is viewed by more than 1 billion people every month, representing 360-video’s best opportunity to appeal to the largest audience ever in no time.
Though, currently, this type of video requires a relatively complex filming set-up to achieve the 360 effect but as the technology improves, Facebook hopes it will become widespread among its users.
“In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil – you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there.” the social network said.
Any user with the right equipment to make VR-like clips will soon be able to share them on Facebook in their fully immersive form.
This feature will first be rolled out on desktop and android. Facebook says support should be coming to iPhones and iPads “in the coming months“. They’re also not yet viewable on Safari or Internet Explorer.
Apart from the world of experience that this magnificent feature offers, it has also posed a fierce competition against other tech industry giants such as Google and Apple, whose smartphones and tablets are often used to create the photos and videos we share.
So, it is time to explore the oceans, the sand dunes, and galaxies far away as you wade into the world of virtual reality in a simple, fun and inexpensive way.
Image credits: Techcrunch, Google