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?