Round We Go: Virtual Reality/360 Video

This week thousands have flocked to the California desert to attend Coachella, while a very different crowd flocked to the desert in Nevada, to gather in Las Vegas for the Coachella and the Comicon of the broadcast industry all rolled into one, the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters trade show, known in our circles simply as, NAB.

And while the buzz around Coachella 2016 has been old school (NKOTB and Guns n’ Roses are back!), the buzz in Vegas among broadcast/video geeks is clearly all about 360 degree video/virtual reality. Virtual reality has been around for a few a years, but with advances in technology placing it in the hands of the consumer, and putting affordable tools for creating virtual content in the hands of the content creators, the use of VR and 360 degree video seems to be on the verge of explosion across the media landscape.IMG_4063

At the same time, all the way across the country hundreds gathered for Imagination Day at the Tribeca Film Festival, headlined by entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson. The day long summit focused on the new reality of the not so distant future. Much of the focus of that new reality was the concept and possibilities of virtual reality.

But caution! We have been here before; in 2012 our visual world was about to be rocked by a 3D content revolution that has yet to be realized. Will VR be different? I believe so, more so because of accessibility more than anything else. The Oculus Rift headsets for VR gamers cost a third of a large flat screen TV, Samsung’s VR headsets, and Google Cardboard integrate with cellphones to make it a reality, and YouTube has reengineered its platform to allow for 360 degree video. At the same time, established visual technology companies ranging from GoPro, to Black Magic, to Nokia (remember them?!?!) have produced 360 degree cameras in a range of price and complexity that will serve everyone from the true professional to the amateur early adapter.

Video games, the creation of alternate worlds, the new frontiers of storytelling through virtual reality, its all thrilling and seemingly right around corner, but we are not quite there yet. As if to underscore the fact, a proclaimed “immersive reality experience, by the masters of virtual reality Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael” crashed repeatedly on the “master’s” MacBook Pro, and the duo had to walk us through their film using our imaginations to guide rather than being able to show us the exquisite 360 degree video footage they had shot over the past year.

While that technical failure proved an apt metaphor, Derek Belch, former Stanford football player and coach, exhibited a fascinating display of the power of virtual reality as it is being used right now in real time. His company STRIVR Labs, uses virtual reality video technology to help with training NFL athletes, allowing them to review and react to actual footage in practice situations that the players participated in the same day. And we didn’t even need VR headsets to experience it. If a linebacker or a quarterback can experience 100 “real” repetitions and see themselves and see a point of view perspective at the same time, it allows the to be on the field without actually being on the field. STRIVR has also created a fan experience, allowing anybody to feel what its like to be on and NFL field shoulder to shoulder with the team they follow, not as computer creations, but rather in three dimensional as they really exist. The only thing missing is the sour stench of sweaty shoulder pads. Does it work? 10 NFL teams have signed on, as well as a dozen college programs, as well as a handful of major league baseball hockey teams.

The possibilities are endless and many of them have already arrived. Storytellers can provide viewers with an experience more intimate than before. On the job training for those working in physically stressful environments takes on a entirely new dimension. VR and 360 video are here to stay, because they’re more than 3D and the headgear is optional.


About the Author:   Julian Williams

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As Director of Photography and co-founder of Mad Bear Productions, all things visual pass before Julian’s creative and experienced eyes. He has been capturing the story as it happens from behind the lens for more than fifteen years.

Julian’s ability to find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane is his gift. As both a cameraman and editor, Julian understands the importance of shooting the right material the first time. With a developed love for telling stories and a deep appreciation for being allowed inside the worlds of thousands of people, Julian loves shooting every kind of story.

From Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral, natural disasters, historic elections, Super Bowls, The Olympics, a World Cup to the a royal wedding across the pond;  Julian brings his global experience and understanding for the latest technologies and trends to Mad Bear’s clientele.

Turning Content into Interactive Connectivity

What do we want?

Engagement!

When do you want it?

NOW!

Interactive video is a perfect opportunity to provide customers with a dynamic experience when learning about a product, service, brand, idea, concept, etc… It’s like a custom-tailored suit. By enabling them to shape the way they consume your content, you can offer a more personal interaction with your brand and get them the most relevant information faster. Plus, you get something in the process.

Here are a few ways to make your video more fun, engaging and … interactive.

Interactive Video PicClickable Content: Fundamentally, clickable video is any sort of online video that the user can interact with by clicking on it. That can be in the form of video overlays which allow you to display ads/ text without interrupting the content being watched. Different platforms offer different examples of this. Here is one from Wistia where we encouraged people to learn more about our TEAM:



 Cards and annotations with YouTube are a simple way to get people to click on           additional videos, links to your website, products and merchandise, and more.  Cards have some advantages over annotations, like being optimized for mobile and higher click-through rates, but both can be useful. Cards and Annotations are a way to add interactive commentary, including links to your YouTube videos and beyond. See the use of a “Poll” in the video below.


 

360 Video: 360 video is pretty much just that. Only it’s so much more. It’s created with a camera system that simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene. Viewers can pan and rotate a 360 video’s perspective to watch it from different angles. The net effect is a deeper level of immersion into the video. When you strap on some virtual reality goggles/headset… the experience goes to the next level, however, 360 video is viewable on computers, iOS devices and Android devices. If you watch on your computer make sure you’re using the latest version of your web browser (ex. Chrome, Firefox). Google created Google Cardboard which would give you a Virtual Reality-esque experience.  The Australian Tourism Board created this 360 video of Rottnest Island. Click and experience it for yourself.

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Tourism done right. The Australian Tourism Board gives viewers a 360 video experience. Click and take a tour.


 

Email Opt ins / Call to Action Buttons: These interactive videos contain social buttons and forms inside the video. They can include email opt in forms (like the video below), buttons (including “buy now” buttons), redirect actions, embedded html, hyperlink text, and more.)  While CTAs are great for generating leads, they can also help contribute to a different goal: growing your email list.

 

Interactive videos give viewers the opportunity to determine how their viewing experience unfolds. In fact, there are some brands that create multiple endings to a video and allow the viewer to select the ending they want to watch. Regardless of your tactics, the more that you can drive engagement, the better the result will be for your brand.

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About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

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