Though VR tends to make us think of heavy-hitters in virtual reality like Oculus, Samsung or HTC, immersive content is moving forward and developing at breakneck speeds, and it’s not just happening in VR headsets. From stitched together 360-degree photos to sophisticated camera rigs that capture video for 360-degree experiences, the idea of immersive content is expanding and changing in all directions as the tools for creation are made more readily available to all content creators.
Facebook 360 is just one example of the increasingly available immersive content creation tools, and it’s one that has the power to alter the way that people interact with content on a number of devices.
Designed to allow greater access to 360-degree publishing, Facebook 360 is a tool that lets creators, publishers, and everyday users share 360-degree photos and videos on Facebook Pages and News Feeds.
Facebook 360 also includes tools like heat maps that provide advanced insights and analytics, and Guide, which allows creators to set specific points of interest in 360-degree videos. But most recently, Facebook added livestreaming capabilities in 360, which means that users will be able to share their experiences in the moment.
The most significant feature of Facebook 360 doesn’t have anything to do with insights, framerates, streaming speeds, or special tools, though. While 360-degree video is and has been available for some time through various apps and platforms like Within (formerly Vrse) and YouTube, Facebook 360 represents a seismic move by the world’s largest social network toward building immersive content within a major social media platform, readily available to everyone on the world’s largest social media platform.
With Facebook 360, immersive content is now readily available to everyone on the world’s largest social media platform.
Facebook 360 can be split into two categories: Photo and Video.
Uploading photos with Facebook 360 couldn’t be easier, and all it takes to get started is an iPhone or Android capable of taking panoramas or photospheres either natively or with a Facebook 360 compatible app like Google Street Views for mobile.
It’s as simple as taking a photo and uploading it, just like one might for any other photo shared on Facebook. A user, after choosing a moment to capture, will place his or herself in the center of the 360 panorama photo.
After uploading the picture onto Facebook, users are able to add captioning to allow their friends to explore the photo and the world that the user is immersed in. When creating a 360 photo, users should create a story that will encourage other users to explore the world within.
For additional information on how to upload Facebook 360 photos, please reference the following resources:
360-degree video on Facebook 360 works like this: Anyone with a spherical or 360-degree camera that adds 360 metadata to video (or any footage with the proper 360 metadata added) can upload and share 360 videos.
That means that whether you’re National Geographic or someone with a tendency to be on the bleeding edge of tech, you can get into the immersive content game on Facebook. There are certain cameras that make the process easier than others, but as long as the correct metadata is on the video file, it’s Facebook 360-ready.
For more on how to use Facebook 360 Video, please reference the following:
Like most new features that become available on social or content creation platforms, Facebook 360 means new opportunities for social media influencers, publishers, and Facebook’s 1.8B users to create and share content. Virtual reality and immersive content is the next frontier and may very well change the way we watch movies and television, the way that we experience photos and videos, and what we expect from the content we consume.
Through Facebook 360, influencers are going to have opportunities to engage with audiences in new ways, and they’ll be leading the charge when it comes to the accelerated adoption and understanding of the next major leap forward in content. And, like many emerging features on social platforms, how we imagine it’ll be used is just the tip of the iceberg. Influencers will likely find ways to challenge what we think we know about VR content outside of headsets, and in doing so, they may fundamentally alter the relationship between VR and the world at large.
For instance, Casey Neistat‘s 360-degree selfie from the ladder of a helicopter offers a uniquely fun perspective of how the 360 experience can be elevated. In this picture, Neistat is able to demonstrate technology used for 360 as well as his penchant for adventure.
Organizations have use the 360 content format as well. The Van Gogh Museum, to celebrate Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles” posted a 360 photo of a 3-D portrayal of the bedroom within the Museum.
Facebook’s 360 video has also been used to give Facebook users an insider look into 3-D spaces and processes. Star Wars published a 360 video of the set of the Jedha City as a promotion for Rogue One, also demonstrating how the feature could be used to provide exciting content to audiences.
Iconic entrepreneur Richard Branson shows off his tennis skills and an impressive estate in Mont Rochelle through Facebook 360 video. Users are able to watch a game and absorb the fresh outdoors that Branson is playing in.
With fast-growing adoption, the medium is destined to move forward at lightspeed as more influencers begin finding new ways to use Facebook 360.
While Facebook 360 seems exceptionally innovative, immersive content and democratized tools for creating it already exist. YouTube is perhaps the most notable example, having supported 360 degree videos since early 2015. There are also a handful of apps that empower users to create their own VR content with smartphones, GoPro cameras, and special spherical cameras. But the push to Facebook means tackling what is likely one of VR’s biggest challenges: Ubiquity.
It’s easy for the early adopters among us to forget that most people have never strapped on a VR headset—not even something as simple and easy-to-obtain as a Google Cardboard headset. For many, “VR” and “immersive content” are buzzwords that are nebulous and often improperly applied. When we hear them, it’s difficult to know if we’re talking about a 360-degree tour of Machu Picchu or a first-of-its-kind VR film like Henry.
Giving people better, more immediate access to the first, most pervasive, and fastest-growing form of VR content means pushing VR forward as a medium. It’s not just a big deal for Facebook users or creators, it’s a big deal for the entire VR, media, and marketing industry.