Over the last few years Google and others have introduced cool 360° video formats that allow you to “look around” inside videos, and you can experience them with different levels of quality based upon what hardware you are using.
You can explore content directly from your computer without any head-mounted gear, even from your PC’s browser. When viewing through a browser, there are a variety of ways to aim your “gaze”: 1) press the arrows in the navigation circle in the top-left corner, 2) click and drag your view with your mouse, or 3) use keys on your keyboard (W: up; A: left; S: down; D: right)… To access 360 content on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to have the most up-to-date version of the relevant app. Once inside the app, you can find the 360 content by searching #360. — Evan Dashevsky, PC Magazine
If you happen to have a VR headset, then you can even feel like you are “inside” the video. Here is a full article that covers the options.
How to Watch Virtual Reality Videos on YouTube (Evan Dashevsky, PC Magazine)
Here are some YouTube 360° Video format specific resources.
A new way to see and share your world with 360-degree video (YouTube Creator)
Upload 360° videos (YouTube Support)
There is also a dedicated 360° channel to showcase content in the format.
YouTube #360Video Channel (Official Website)
While 360° videos are not be as immersive when seen on a computer or phone screen, they are free and don’t require the hassle of a headset to see. There is also a range of ways to record them. They are also relatively easy to make!
DIY 360-Degree Photos
The easiest way to get started creating your own 3D/360°/VR media is to use Photo Sphere or similar photo stitching software on your mobile phone. Basically, almost any mobile phone will have an app built in or available for download that will let you make your own 360-degree photos. Here is a video explaining how they work.
Google also has an app specifically for taking pictures on Android phones that are viewable with Google Cardboard.
Google’s latest app can turn Android phones into VR cameras (Nicole Lee, Engadget)
Google’s Cardboard Camera App Makes Anyone a VR Photographer (Davey Alba, Wired)
Here is Google’s page with instructions for publishing 3D photos to Street View.
Google Street View, Publish Photo Sphere (Google)
Here is another tutorial that provides a more extensive explanation of the process.
Tutorial: Create immersive photo experiences with Google Photo Sphere (Vanessa Schneider, Geo.Journalism.org)
Google made the process of publishing 360 photos easier by releasing VR View which provides a standard way to post images to web and mobile platforms. The launch of VR View also came with a Cardboard SDK for iOS so Apple fans can join in the fun.
Google makes it really easy to embed 360-degree VR experiences (Stan Schroeder, Mashable)
Google tackles simple 360 content embeds with VR View, introduces Cardboard SDK for iOS (Lucas Matney, Tech Crunch)
One of the apps included with Google Cardboard lets you view Photo Sphere photos that you had captured yourself or downloaded from elsewhere.
How to load a Photo Sphere on to your phone and view in Google Cardboard (Josh Pabst)
The same is true of the ability to take and see your own 360-degree photos for Gear VR.
DIY 360-Degree Videos
Of course, making 360-degree videos is bound to be just a tad more complicated, but it is not nearly as intimidating as you might expect. You will probably want to invest a bit, because there are some 360-degree cameras on the market now and others coming out. and you can get them at stores like Best Buy.
Here are some articles to help you choose one…
XR Guide: Choosing Your 360 VR Camera (Aaron Rhodes, Road to VR)
360 Camera Buying Guide – How to find the best 360 camera (Three Sixty Cameras)
The Ricoh Theta S is a good starter camera that can capture and publish both 360 photos and videos, and they can also be published directly to Google’s Street View. There is also a special developers site specifically for this camera: Theta 360 Developers
The relationship between Samsung and Oculus/Facebook resulted in something interesting when they released their Gear 360 video camera. It outputs plain MP4s or JPEGs, but it’s specifically designed to create video for the Gear VR.
GoPro is one of the leaders in this area, and they will be releasing the Omni VR camera that will work seamlessly with the Kolor software they bought.
GoPro’s ‘Omni’ VR camera rig officially unveiled (James Trew, Engadget)
GoPro To Acquire Kolor, A Leader In Virtual Reality and Spherical Media Solutions (GoPro)
In the meantime, there are higher end options. In fact, beware, going down this road of creating 360-degree video can get addictive… and expensive!
GoPro Odyssey, Google Jump, Stereoscopic panoramic 8k video rig, IBC2015
So there are a wide range of options available for both the cameras and software for making 360-degree videos. Here is an excellent article that covers the options for cameras as well as the process of making, editing and publishing them to YouTube.
How to Shoot, Edit, and Upload 360-Degree Videos (Michael Maher, Premium Beat)
If you own a Gear VR, then there’s a process for that, too!
Finally, once you get started, you will probably want some more resources on techniques and best practices. Luckily, there is a lot of helpful information online. For example, Google has created this course.
360-degree video and virtual reality on YouTube (Google’s YouTube Creator Academy)
Here’s an entertaining example of the lessons.
Here’s some great stuff from Facebook too.
Learning Resources: Get started with 360 Video today (Facebook)
360 Video Upload Guide (Facebook) (pdf)
Best Practices for Immersive Storytelling (Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin, Facebook) (pdf)
360° VR Video Professionals (Facebook Page)