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Interactive 360-degree videos

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Interactive 360-degree videos

Two trends have clearly emerged among the production of virtual reality. One of them, it can be called classic, is based on creating virtual worlds from scratch using computer graphics. The second approach is to keep the experience as realistic as possible, so it uses previously recorded 360-degree videos.

How has 360 ​​degree videos changed?

The evolution of spherical cinematography began with static images. The camera, or rather a set of two or more devices, stood still, recording the scene around. Later, thanks to many experiments, 360-degree videos gained traffic. Rovers, sliders, drone camera taps added much needed dynamism to the spherical experiences.

So, 360-degree movies evoked great emotions, but there was a certain lack of satisfaction. After all, the viewers remained only… spectators. The lack of influence on the watched action was usually justified (e.g. in the cinema or in front of the TV, we also do not have such decision-making), but with many experiences, it was begging to hand over the controls to the viewer.

Realism in VR

Creating a virtual world – like in computer games – was a natural solution, but it had some drawbacks. The main problem that still exists despite the development of technology is the lack of realism in the perceived world. All the magic of VR lies in fooling the brain into believing it is dealing with real experiences, events, and people. Unfortunately, computer-generated three-dimensional elements do not offer such an illusion, at least in most production.

The realism of the image is offered by 360-degree movies – of course if they are made with good quality equipment, in a resolution of at least 4K. Special software, for example the Unity engine, allows you to enrich them with interaction video, thanks to which the user has a real influence on the action.

Interactions in VR movies – types

Interactions can take many forms. Take, as an example, VR OHS applications that support training in companies. Here, the recipient becomes a participant in dramatic events: as a member of the anti-terrorist team, he has to free the hostage, who is set on fire by bandits during torture. The man is on fire, the time slows down and the viewer must quickly select the extinguishing agent by clicking on the icons. Each choice entails the necessity of solving the task, e.g. indicating the correct sequence of opening the hydrant. Choosing a specific answer changes the action – in the form of subsequent 360-degree videos – that we will see later.

Another type of interaction video appeared in the advertising game for Nike created by our studio under the management of the 180heartbeats agency and the F25 production house. For a more complete picture, I recommend that you see case studies. The game was about jumping on a giant springboard over Warsaw. In order to jump higher, you had to “catch” the markings appearing around with your eyes. The interaction video took place here by looking at the right places, which in turn unlocked the next stages of the game.

The future of 360-degree video interaction

It is obvious that we are only at the beginning of the evolution of VR technology. In the following years, we will surely see the development of forms of interaction video in virtual reality – both in the one created entirely in the form of a three-dimensional world, and based on spherical video. In the latter aspect, the so-called 6 DOF, i.e. an innovative method of 360-degree image registration, allowing (limited, but still!) Movement in the previously recorded reality.

Another path of development are all types of devices transmitting impulses in two directions – primarily haptic gloves, receiving stimuli from the virtual world and influencing it.