What is 360 video?
360 video is a spherical video format which, when viewed on a virtual reality headset, gives viewers the illusion of ‘being there’. It's generally a non-interactive format and it can be seen in 2D or 3D.
Most web browsers now support 360, so videos are also viewable in a ‘magic window’ format on YouTube and Facebook. This allows people to look around the scene by clicking and dragging with their mouse. Alternatively, if people are viewing on mobiles, they can point their phones in the direction they’d like to see. Some stories work well as ‘magic window’ videos. These are cut together in a similar way to a 2D film.
The best 360 experience is on a VR headset such as Oculus Go, Gear VR, Google Daydream or the higher-end Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Making a film which works well for headset viewing requires a different approach to storytelling, editing and cameras.
Which stories work best in 360?
Remember - you don’t watch great 360, you live it.
Consider these principles before you pitch or commission a 360 video:
Can you capture a ‘wow’ moment?
Can you offer your viewers a unique sense of scale? Can you take them somewhere extraordinary, somewhere hard to reach or difficult to visualise? Think about how you can build a sense of awe, an intake of breath or something immediately captivating.
Is your location worth exploring?
360 video can help audiences understand the space, what it's like to stand in a particular location or news story. Often you'll want to convey what a scene really looks like — is a 16:9 image underselling your story? Is the location unique? Difficult to reach? Hard to visualise? Does your audience have a sense of scale or place with your story? All of this works well for 360.
Is there a unique experience?
Remember, this is an experiential medium. Your audience isn't watching your story, they're experiencing it. So bear this in mind for each part of your story. Can you offer a unique vantage point? Can you create a deeper understanding or a heightened emotional connection with the story by ‘being there’?
How can you prompt your viewer to look around?
Spatialised sound cues can help direct your audience's attention in the 360 sphere. A presenter can also gesture or walk around a location to indicate points of interest.
3.How will people watch my video?
If you’re aiming primarily for ‘magic window’ viewing on a phone or tablet, edit your story with this in mind. Compared to headset experiences, you can get away with more moving shots and quicker edits.
As with a 2D edit, your audience is watching on a screen, so the storytelling methods are only slightly different to traditional media.
If you also want people to watch your experience on VR headsets, you’ll need a much better camera. If you can, you should aim to shoot in 3D.
Each shot will need to be much longer because it takes time for the audience to adjust. Often the audience can be overwhelmed with the image, so the narration or storytelling mechanism must be slower.
What kit do I need?
Newly available kit means shooting 360 video is easier than than it was before. If you’re shooting for headset viewing, there’s no room for low quality visuals.
What's the best way to film in 360?
To find out how to get the best from your 360 filming, click on the image and then select each tag to find out more.
What can I do with my idea?
Do you have a story to tell in 360?
BBC staff should come and talk to the VR Hub at any stage in the production process. We can give you editorial, creative and technical advice on how to make sure you get the best out of your story. We can also help with wider distribution for select projects.
Tuesday and Wednesday at the VR Hub space, 6th floor, Zone C, New Broadcasting House.