Is 360-Degree Video Even VR?

I mentioned this podcast in a prior post, but it needs repeating:

Rev VR Podcast (Ep. 115): Creating Amazing 360 VR Videos in Hollywood with Sam Macaroni

The podcast itself is a blast. It had me laughing out loud in a public space. And Sam Macaroni is great talking about how he accomplished certain things in his 360 videos.

The point I’m calling out is this:

Despite what some people say, Sam and I agree that 360 video IS indeed virtual reality. Whether it is mono or stereo, as long as you can look around see that you are somewhere else, then you are experiencing the simplest form of VR. With the advent of consumer level cameras, such as the Ricoh Theta S and the Samsung Gear 360, there will be soon be a huge library of 360 content available on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Dean Johnson disagrees:

And mentioned in one of those tweets: Will Virtual Reality and 360° Film Experience an Industry Divide?

The predominant argument against 360° film as a virtual reality experience exists in the limitations inherent within the medium. The majority of 360° films are shot with a static camera, granting the viewer the opportunity to explore the scope of the arena by moving one’s head. The New York Times piece The Displaced is a great example of using creative problem solving to overcome the issue of static camera placement. However, unlike the experiences created in CG by Oculus Story Studio, such as the story of Henry, the viewer doesn’t have the option to get closer to an object or engage with the surrounding environment through free-reign agency.

I think the divide is between what I’m going to call sedentary VR and interactive VR.

There’s room for both.

This is the “game” Half-Life 2 running on a Xiaomi MiPad 2 with Windows 10:

That’s the kind of thing — if it was in a headset — Dean would consider to be “real” VR.

And the reason why I put game in quotes? Because holy shit, where’s the fun? That seems like a hell of a lot of effort to me.

And I think many people will feel the same way.

Past a certain age, people just have no interest in such games.

But just about everyone sits and watches TV (and “TV” these days can mean video on a phone via WiFi or via storage). TV is a sedentary activity most people do consider fun.

And if you’re skeptical of my argument: When was the last time Nintendo sold a Wii console? Is anyone still using one of those? How about Microsoft Kinect for XBox? They were effort.

I don’t see anyone carrying a game console out of Best Buy. I constantly see people lugging big-ass TVs out of Best Buy.

Whether Dean likes it or not, people will consider 360-video a form of VR.

Now, can we move on to the argument as to whether 360-video should be monoscopic or stereoscopic? In the podcast, Sam Macaroni — who should know, after using the Jaunt ONE camera — says that past fifteen to twenty feet from the camera, everything turns monoscopic. So how necessary is stereoscopic video?

Previously here:

Virtual Reality category

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4 Responses to Is 360-Degree Video Even VR?

  1. Dean Johnson says:

    My main grievance with 360º video is monoscopic content – it’s just a piece of 360º content in a VR headset, not VR (a Trabant with a Ferrari badge ain’t a Ferrari). The beauty of VR is its ability to deliver genuine presence. To do this effectively requires a stereoscopic shoot from the start. Coded Unity environments deliver this by default, 360º video doesn’t. To simply repurpose monoscopic content is lazy and lowers the bar. It’s on the shoulders of the professionals to set the standards at this early stage, not consumers.

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