TIPS & TECHNIQUES
While the best advice to give when diving into VR at this stage is to just experiment and have fun, we all still want to be efficient and not waste time. Therefore, it's important to know a few tips and tricks to steer you in the right direction. I spoke to some of the best content creators in Rapid VR (Sydney Australia) & Lightsail VR (Los Angeles, USA) and put together some of their do's & don'ts.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY!
Ask yourself some important questions before beginning any 360 video production:
What's my objective?
The biggest and most important step before creating any 360 content is to outline what your objective is. Defining what it is you want to achieve will dictate whether or not 360 video is the right medium to tell your story. If you want to totally control the narrative of your story with a more narrowed approach then a traditional video would be more appropriate, where you dictate what the viewer is allowed to see. However if, as an example, your story is one where environment and submission to that environment plays an integral part in driving your story and creating empathy through immersion then 360 is definitely the medium you should be using.
Who is the audience?
Your audience is integral in deciding what your story will be. Different audiences wish to see different things. When time is an investment you want to make sure you get the right message for the right audience.
How will I distribute?
Creating content for mobile and desktop can be engaged with very differently to viewing through a headset. In a headset, environment users have agency and much greater incentive to look around their environment more. They may stare at the sky for extended periods of time, missing important beats in your story, therefore, it is important to use things such as lots of visual cues or audio cues to draw their intention to the right spot. So determining beforehand where your content will end up will be important to your storyboarding and production setup.
CREATE A STORY
More often then not you see a lot of spherical videos that are a camera plonked in the middle of a room with nothing happening. While this is similar to virtual tours with spherical photos and they have their place, 360 video allows you to add action to those spaces, so it is best to utilise that feature to engage on a greater level. 360 video already has a longer engagement period, whereas traditional video has on average 3 seconds to grab someones attention before they stop. 360 video has 17 seconds. That is 6 times longer to grab someones attention. The best way to engage with someone is to make sure you are telling them an engaging story.
If ever you catch your self putting a camera in a room where nothing is happening or it is not driving your message or story then start again. If a conversation is happening between two people put the camera in between them, not 3 feet away. If you're on a boat place the camera on the outside above the water and provide a view that viewers couldn't typically see. Being so early in this space there are no strict rules as to how creative or crazy you can be. Experiment like a mad scientist and you will be surprised with what results you may acquire in order to engage your audience. The more you try and see what grabs your audience, the more efficient you will get at creating your content and with greater success.
SOFTWARE & DISTRIBUTION
Once you have shot your content it is time to edit and distribute.
Whilst the majority of the cameras available come with smartphone or desktop editing software that allows for rendered spherical videos to be distributed straight to YouTube & Facebook, there are some other online programs that are worth mentioning if you want to have greater interactivity and easier distribution.
OmniVirt is a free online platform that has a number of arms to its offering, but of relevance to the tourism industry is the VR player. Michael Rucker, OmniVirt CEO explains "I’d say there are two elements that are really why we work with a lot of travel clients and the travel industry. The first is the ability to have your VR experience live in a mobile browser. That’s our differentiation, relative to Facebook, YouTube, or anyone else in the market is, if you want this to live on your tourism website, or across any sort of mobile web inventory that you’re buying or distributing, our player has the ability to render a full VR experience in a mobile browser. So that’s one. The second is interactivity. In that scenario, we make it very easy for travel clients to tour around the hotel, tour a beach, learn more about the first class lounge or first class cabin of this ship, or this plane. So I think consumers are looking for more than just a passive, lean-back experience with 360, they want to lean in and sort of choose their own adventure. And we make it super easy to do that with the OmniVirt VR player."
Being able to add clickable hotspots in a 360 video, allowing people to direct their own story can add an element of engagement to an otherwise static and boring video "we have thousands of people all over the world from large brands such as Cathay Pacific, or Marriott Hotels, all the way down to a local real estate agent that’s grabbing a 360 camera, shooting a couple of photos at a property, and using the OmniVirt VR player to create an interactive tour. We have a completely self-service platform that makes it so that large and small enterprises can basically get up and running very easily. Take the pain out of the creative process. I’m not technical, I can log into OmniVirt and very easily drag and drop interactive hotspots into that experience."
This sort of technology is a game changer in being able to make the end-to-end process of editing and distributing a very easy process.