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Breaking Down the Fourth Wall with 360-Degree Video

Spherical video. 3D. Virtual reality. Whatever you choose to call it, there’s no denying the buzz around 360-degree video.

In a nutshell, 360-degree video allows a viewer to control the camera angle by tilting and panning on their computer or mobile device via the video player. Want to see what I mean? Check out this example from YouTube.

The technology is taking off in part because YouTube has invested so much into the technology and now allows for creators to upload spherical video. For viewers, it’s become much more accessible than past versions of virtual reality, which required you to wear a bulky headset a la the Matrix.

Not only do you not have to wear a headset with the new wave of 360-video, but you can also watch these videos on your mobile device. While headsets are not required, they can still be worn and are supposed to offer a “more immersive” experience.

Facebook seems to agree, as they acquired virtual reality headset company Oculus Rift in 2014 and then this past March announced they’d be testing a 24-camera setup that would allow viewers to move around within a video. There were even hints at plans to get spherical video working in the newsfeed.

While YouTube, Facebook and other platforms make 360-degree video more accessible to all of us, the big question is how brands will use this new form of storytelling. The “fourth wall” – the invisible barrier between the actors or talent and the area where the camera, crew and audience are located in a film, theater or play – is essentially knocked down with this new form of immersive storytelling. With 360-degree view, your audience has the ability to control their video by panning and tilting the angle.

This is a far cry from traditional video. YouTube compares 360-video to a choose-your-own-adventure experience where you have control over what you see and where you go. We see a lot of potential with 360-degree video in live events, sports, travel and real estate. It will be exciting to see this form of video storytelling emerge in the years to come!

What are your thoughts on 360-degree video? Would you consider using it for your brand’s video production?

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