Looking Ahead in 2017 - Immersive Video is Just Video

We've come a long way since virtual reality first became part of the public lexicon in the 1980's and 1990's. As always with technology, removing the barriers to creation and distribution was the spark which has ignited the growth of Immersive Video,  including 360-degree and VR. How did we get here and where do we go now? 

We know that immersive video formats offer a unique viewing experience that standard video cannot; the ability to become part of the narrative, versus watching as a third-party outsider. This means that, although there's still plenty of room for flat video, depending on the content, a user may prefer the full experience of VR compared to standard video.

There are two main reasons why immersive content is poised to take over the video marketplace.

  • The production of high quality 360-degree and VR video content has proliferated to the point that any Joe Schmoe now has the capability to produce stunning professional quality VR videos from his/her own home. Now that the barriers to production have been removed, and since VR offers such a unique immersive viewing experience, it only makes sense that the trajectory of VR/360 video is taking off. 
  • Most importantly, the platforms for distribution and tools for engagement with immersive video are already available to nearly everyone. Facebook and Youtube, two of the largest video platforms in the world, now offer 360-degree and VR video as part of their regular streaming. Without much fanfare, they've removed the mental barriers users may have had distinguishing VR/360 from traditional video. In other words, by making it simply part of their existing video offering, they've normalized VR/360 so that users aren't surprised when they are all of a sudden able to interact with the videos as full environments. Add to that the fact that cardboard headsets like Google Cardboard have become available to the public, and we are at the point where VR is ready to take off.

In 2017 we will see more exciting productions happening in immersive formats, including movies, games and yes, advertising. While we saw advertisers dabble in VR/360 in 2016, the proliferation of video production technology as well as the ability to promote videos on Facebook and Youtube will have made it nearly impossible to neglect. The most interesting element of this will not be whether this type of video is available, but how immersive video changes the narratives of the videos themselves. Immersive video is no longer a surprise, it is an expectation. How will you meet it?

Never Stop Learning

Like most of us, I've received a number of pieces of advice from various co-workers, friends and family members over my career. Some are bad, many are forgettable, and a select few, for whatever reason, truly resonate. Those tidbits are the ones I collect in the back of my mind. Often they show themselves when I need them most, and sometimes when I don't even expect it. 

One of my favorites was shared with me early, while I was still an intern at an advertising agency in Connecticut.  I was offered a choice between two positions: Account Services where I had interned for three months (without pay), and the Digital Department, where I was offered a position as Project Coordinator despite my lack of any technical web knowledge or project management skills. When debating which position to take, I was intrigued by Digital, even though I had no idea what I'd be doing. I liked the newness of it, and the challenge it presented. I was curious about the opportunities and possibilities it held - to create something, to be on the forefront, to innovate. 

That's when a co-worker serendipitously cast these words. He said "Did you know that a shark has to constantly keep moving or else it will die? You should be like that. If you ever stop moving, learning or growing, it's time to move on." (Note: It turns out this is partially true. But I like it, and partially true is good enough for me on this one.)

That piece of advice convinced me to take the Digital role, where I was sure that I'd learn more than ever before, and have the opportunity to keep learning.

Each time I feel myself slowing down I think about the shark, "keep moving". What can I do to learn something new today? What can I create to keep myself and my work fresh? How can I continue to challenge myself?

I was naive at the time, and in too many ways, I still am. Never stop learning - or else.