It’s long been the ambition of film-makers to create a truly immersive experience for viewers, to bring them inside of the action. Now, with the increasing sophistication of 360-degree video, it is an ambition that’s starting to be realized.
The 360-degree video has been around for several years now, albeit with differing levels of sophistication and polish, and the first that many people will have seen of them will have been on property and travel websites in which it’s been used to help viewers look around properties or holiday accommodation.
But now advancing camera technology, combined with the development of the software to handle the images, means that 360-degree video is being used in an increasing number of ways.
Check this footage out:
The traditional method of making a video of this kind is relatively simple. A number of cameras, generally six, are placed on a special rig all around the subject being filmed and these all run simultaneously. Then editing software works to stitch all the images together as seamlessly as possible to create a scene in which the viewer can change their perspective when they’re viewing on a phone, tablet or laptop.
But what has transformed the way that 360-degree video is produced has been the introduction of a new generation of cameras like the Samsung Gear 360 that capture the whole 360-degree scene to produce complete video files without the need to stitch the different images together using separate software.
Already this leap forward is producing some truly startling videos which are becoming so popular that there is a specific section on You Tube dedicated to them. Take a few minutes to explore some of the subjects on offer and you’ll be able to do anything from swimming alongside great white sharks to sky diving from a plane - or you could even to find yourself in the middle of a horror movie.
Admittedly, some of the videos are more effective than others and, like all new technology, advances are moving on swiftly which promises better and better results.
360-degree filming is starting to take off in music as well, check out Bjork's recent video for "Stonemilker" which is pretty amazing. The applications for live performances are just starting to be realized as well.
One area in which it has also proved to be surprisingly effective is in the live filming of sports, having recently been trailed by 888.com at their Aspers casino poker tournament. By allowing the viewer to feel part of the action, it’s surely just a short step from being able also to let them participate in the action as just another player in the game.
The coming of age of virtual reality will also have a big role to play and this coming together of the two technologies promises to open up a whole new world of possibilities – and genuinely immersive experiences.
These could range from giving viewers the chance to feel like they’re there at everything from major concerts to sports events to creating even more authentic flight simulators for trainee pilots – the potential is limitless.
Plus, with the increased accessibility of the technology, it’s certain to be a potential that’s grasped by more and more for all kinds of reasons – and limited only by their imagination.