Creating a 360 VR Experience
One of the easiest virtual reality experiences to create, and potentially the most realistic, is the 360 degree virtual reality experience. Viewing the footage taken on a 360 degree camera through a virtual reality headset can provide an effective learning experience. It immerses the viewer in the location, with them able to look around as if they were there.
What is a 360 degree video?
When we talk about 360 degree video we are not talking about the 360 panoramas you see on Facebook, that go around in a 360 circle but only capture a slim view. Rather this is a full 360 degree view – in every direction – the same as if you were standing in a spot and looked up, down and around.
Designing and developing the experience
Storyboarding the design
To record an effective and engaging 360 VR experience, you need to design and develop your production. Storyboard your design and workout how the VR experience will be structured to achieve the required performance objectives (assuming you have determined VR to be the best medium for achieving the objectives). Determine any props, actors and other equipment you may need for the scene/s.
Preparing the equipment
The equipment for creating the 360 VR experience is quite simple. You need a 360 degree camera, mobile phone (optional if you don’t want to see the camera’s view), a tripod or mount and (if combining multiple video scenes) some 360 video software.
There is a range of 360 cameras on the market. Some require you to stitch the footage from the multiple cameras together after shooting. Others combine it all into one video for you.
At Reality Creators we have two cameras that we use. The Samsung Gear 360 and the 360 Fly. Both combine all of the footage into the one scene. The Gear has a standard tripod screw mount to suit standard camera tripods and is the camera we use for most still scene footage. The 360 Fly has a number of mounts, similar to the GoPro, and we use this for action shots.
Most of the 360 cameras have a mobile phone app that allows you to see the camera’s view and control the recording. You can also view the recorded footage directly onto your camera (or place it in a VR headset) to check that you have captured that you want.
Unless you want a mouse-eye view, with the camera sitting on the floor, a tripod or appropriate mount is required. You need to consider that the camera footage needs to be taken from the height of an average viewer. We use a standard camera tripod for the Gear which has worked perfectly.
Recording the footage
Once on site, determine the best placement of the camera and tripod. Run a test to make sure the lighting is good, the camera is viewing everything you need it to and that any props or actors are in the right place. Check that anything you don’t want in the scene/s is removed.
Run the camera and record the scene.
Editing the footage
Some of the camera’s come with their own version of video editing software (such as the 360 Fly). Adobe Premiere Pro has also released a version that caters for 360/VR footage. These software applications allow you to edit the individual scenes.
If combining the scenes into a larger VR experience, for example having the ability for people to “jump” or teleport to other scenes, you will need to package this up with a VR authoring tool. Viar360, WondaVR and InstaVR are some examples of these (a review on these to come in a later blog). Add in any markers with additional information, hotspots or links.
Once finished editing the footage, the final step is to publish the project. Depending on the software used you may have different publishing options available. This may include publishing to Google Cardboard, Android, IOS, Gear VR, Daydream or Oculus.
Once published, access the final product in your VR headset and immerse yourself in the experience.