360 Videos for Dummies


A 360 panoramic video camera is equipped with special mechanisms to produce an immersive video, sometimes also called a spherical video, which record a panoramic view of the real world. Every angle of view is simultaneously recorded. Of course, the human eye is not good at viewing in every direction at once, so such videos must be viewed and processed by special viewers that give the viewer control of which view angle to show at any given point in time. So, even though such videos are of real life, they give the viewer a type of interactive virtual reality experience.

Creating Immersive Videos

To make such high technology immersive videos requires various levels of technical trickery. The easiest way is to use a 360 degree panoramic camera. However, people have gone to the trouble of placing many GoPro or other inexpensive cameras in a special circular rig to take multiple images, and then process all the separate videos to stitch the scenes together with video editing software. This method does not produce the seamless beauty in playback that video camera 3d produces without any fancy editing required. Of course, even with the special cameras, it is almost impossible to film the view around the camera’s support. The oculus rift stereoscopic camera may have the best technology. Here are three more popular cameras now available on the market:

  • Kodak PixPro SP360 – immersive 360° Action Camera
  • GoPro V.360 – the GoPro of panoramic video cameras
  • 360fly – a panoramic 360° HD Video Camera

Playback of Immersive Videos

These types of videos are recorded in a more holographic way than standard video. For instance, to achieve stereoscopic photo videos requires the use of such a camera with dual lenses and recording capability. So, it is best to think of the recording as just another type of data storage. The resulting video can only be viewed and edited with special virtual reality video software. The viewing module of this type of software gives the user control over exact viewing angle and the playback speeds. Modern devices, such as helmet displays or smartphones give direct control over movement through the video by use of inertial sensors by the playback software. On a desktop computer the keypad or mouse movement is interpreted in a similar way. The aspect ratio for viewing these videos is normally a 4:3 window.

Player Examples

In 2014 Google introduced the Cardboard VR viewer. This viewer is a great way to make 360° videos easily viewed by anyone. This is the viewer than journalists are now using to deal with immersive videos. In 2015 YouTube launched their own 360 video viewing software for use with their online web site. Facebook also introduced a similar feature in 2015. And with mainstream acceptance of virtual reality viewer headsets going on right now, the viewing of 360 immersive videos is sure to become commonplace.