360 Degrees of Video: Is this TV’s Future?

A 360-degree Star Wars video on Facebook
On September 23, Facebook made a surprising announcement: users would now be able to experience and interact with videos that can reveal 360-degrees of a given scene.

After specialized cameras have recorded the intended sequence, a viewer can click and drag the scene during playback to view anything occurring from a different angle.

Facebook describes the effort as letting “people explore the world in new, immersive ways.”

This methodology for storytelling quickly gained attention when Star Wars joined in on the fun, as Lucasfilm published a 360-degree video clip of a cruiser flying on the desert planet Jakku, which will be featured in the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” film:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience
Speed across the Jakku desert from Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this immersive 360 experience created exclusively for Facebook.
Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

However, the ability to explore fictional settings via 360-degree video is not its only use.

In fact, what appears to be a bit more exciting is the non-fictional utilization of the technology, which is being undertaken by major media companies like Discovery Channel, VICE and NBC.

Discovery Channel demonstrates an implementation where underwater exploration occurs with Adam Savage of “Myth Busters.”

Ever wanted to swim with a shiver of sharks? MythBuster Adam Savage takes you underwater in Virtual Reality to explore up close!
Posted by Discovery on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

HBO’s “VICE” takes a trip to Afghanistan.

Front Line Diaries: Afghanistan, 2015
"Over 18 months after our withdrawal, there is almost no evidence that we were ever in Afghanistan, let alone that we spent billions of dollars on reconstruction, development and security. Many Afghans look to the future with fear. We didn’t leave because we achieved our goals, we left because we gave up on them."
Posted by VICE on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

And NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” offers a new look at Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s cold open for the 40th anniversary of the show.

Take a seat in Studio 8H and experience Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s #SNL40 Cold Open like never before — in interactive 360°.
Posted by Saturday Night Live on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It’s abundantly clear that 360-degree video places the viewer right in the center of the action. And while the only way to currently engage with it is through a computer, phone or tablet, a recent study from Ericsson has shown that 86% of smartphone users watch video content on their phones, and that teenagers spend 2/3 of their TV viewing time on a mobile device.

Could 360-degree video be employed for a mobile-only or virtual reality TV series? And will further advances allow this to be properly displayed on an actual television? Considering the major growth in mobile viewing, it certainly seems possible.

Author: Brian Cameron
Image via Facebook.
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