As a consumer of virtual reality hardware and software, I’ve been blown away with the variety and depth of the VR content that I’ve been able to either purchase or try out over the last year. It’s very easy to become a little jaded after experiencing professional content of computer generated and video-based producers. As a content producer, and one with a distinctively modest budget, this year presents the very difficult task of choosing which consumer-grade 360 camera to invest in.
Trawling through reviews and commentary in this area inevitably leads to rich discussions over what constitutes good 360 video content. Narrowing that even further to the type that can be pleasantly viewed in VR (through Google Cardboard, Gear VR etc) attracts even more comments. For some, anything less than 4K resolution, 3D stereoscopic 360 x 360 resolution is the minimum requirement. And although I understand this purist view, the gasps and wonderment I still see on people’s faces when they first hold up a Google Cardboard to their face regardless of the quality of the content says to me that for many – indeed the mainstream – consumer, there is far more flexibility and latitude given to the types of content they will accept onto their eyes.
I’m comparing this to the much earlier adopter segment that has been living many hours a week in a VR environment and holds a much stronger benchmark for any content worth their while. And as the writer and presenter on this website, there’s no way I’m going to be able to justify the massive expense of a Nokia Ozo or GoPro Jump rig right now, or if ever. (update: GoPro just announced their “Omni” 6 camera rig with no indicative pricing but should be a much more affordable option – circa $3-4K I expect).
Like many of my readers, I’m here because VR, and many other aspects of consumer technology, are a burning passion for me and it’s great to share what I can create, relate and review in the written word and on video.
Right now I’m eager to see what the LG 360 and Samsung Gear 360 cameras can provide in terms of auto stitched, medium resolution, two dimensional, full spherical video content is concerned. This could indeed be the year that mainstream consumers start sharing their own VR-ready experiences on Youtube and Facebook. Affordable hardware combined with a ready-made audience on various video platforms could be the great democratizer of VR content.
I’ll continue to seek out and provide information on various 360 cameras. It will be interesting to see what type of content (video/images), in what format (3D/2D), at what resolution (2K/3K/4K) and in what wrapping (180 vs 360, or half wrap around vs full wrap around) will be the most shared and most successful. After all, most of my friends that have seen my new videos on Youtube can’t be bothered or can’t even get the full resolution available. But, they’re still interested in what I’m showing them.
I’m sure there will be more to this particular topic in many different areas. Entertainment, education, health and enterprise segments all have their own possible uses for VR content. The methods and platforms that ultimately become the default destinations for 360 and passive VR content will open a window into our own quality expectations. So to answer my own question in the title of this article of whether 360 videos make good VR content, it depends on both the viewer and the creator. I will certainly be watching this shifting landscape very closely over the next few months.
Until next time!