Google Makes 360 VR “Watchable” with VR180 by Halving It

I have a huge problem with 360 degree video, or VR, or AR, or whatever your want to call it. The problem is that the majority of content currently available for the format is utterly unwatchable in the sense of how it is captured and consumed by the average Joe.

Call me old-school, “a 24p, 2D elitist”, and idiot, whatever, but in my experience, strapping hideous “VR goggles” or headsets, or whatever marketing term some huge tech conglomerate says we should use, makes 360 VR a very uncomfortable and nauseating experience. 360 VR has its defenders not only in the gaming realm, but also in the more traditional realm of telling stories using moving pictures and sound, but for the most part, the new “experience format” has had somewhat of a hard time catching on outside the world of advanced gaming, much like consumer 3D did nearly a decade ago.

Google DayDream VR Headset

Image by Maurizio Pesce

Maybe my brain works in a radically different way than yours, but IMHO the current consumption of 360 degree video by the general public is a cumbersome, intrusive, expensive, and downright unnecessary pain in the backside.

However, Google may have found a way to fix it all by cutting it in half, because it makes so much sense. I mean – why in the hell, would you want to see what’s happening behind the camera? The human eye was never meant to observe the world in 360 degrees, so why force it?

Google calls its new format VR180 and is partnering with Yi, Lenovo and LG to develop new cameras capable of recording their more user-friendly 180 degree video format. VR180 has been designed with Google’s Daydream VR headset in mind for getting the most out of the new 180 experience, however you wouldn’t have to absolutely have it to view the content.

Google VR180

Image by Google

According to Google, the new VR180 format is said to be more accessible to content creators as the new cameras will be cheaper and support (presumably) 4K resolution, whereas to get decent quality out of 360 VR you would need around 8K resolution.

Plus the new VR180 is said to be more editing friendly, much akin to normal video. In addition, the new format should intercut more gently with traditional 2D linear content due to its less obtrusive nature.

For creators, you’ll be able to set up and film your videos the way you normally would with any other camera. And, soon, you’ll be able to edit using familiar tools like Adobe Premiere Pro. From vlogs, to makeup tutorials to music videos – your videos will work great in VR. – Google

Google has been at the forefront of 360 VR support, and now with their new VR180 format they are spearheading the effort of making VR content creation and delivery more accessible to the public. To read more about Google’s new VR180 format head over here.

As a final note to this post, if you want to really immerse yourself in a riveting story, leave your VR gaming headset at home and go see Nolan’s Dunkirk on the biggest cinema screen possible. It’s in 2D, 24p and shot on 35mm and 70mm film.

I think VR content developers have a lot to learn from his latest film, which I have to admin, I wasn’t so excited about when it was announced, having sat through a few screenings of Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises, both of which were quite disappointing, but Dunkirk is something very different.

Nolan said it himself that he wanted to create a VR experience without the glasses. It sounds cheesy and a bit ridiculous, but after seeing the film, I kinda see his point.

“Old-school VR without the gadgets. For adults.” I think it’s quite a fitting tag line for the poster.

What are your thoughts on the new VR180 concept and VR in general. Let me know in the comments below.

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