A YouTube Introduction to 360-Degree Video and Virtual Reality

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"360 is a video format that unlike traditional video, is capturing in full 360, so full spherical," commented Kurt Wilms, Senior Product Manager at YouTube. "When we talk about 360 at YouTube, we're talking about filming content and viewing content in this new video format."

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"VR at YouTube is all about how viewers are experiencing this," Wilms said. "VR means you're watching the content in a specialized headset that allows for really immersive viewing and really transports you in a way that isn't possible if you're watching on your phone or on your desktop computer."

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YouTube has developed a special camera to create 360-degree videos:

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"360 video as a format has been out for a while but up until recently, people haven't had a great way to consume in a way that was immersive," noted Bryce Reid, a User Experience Designer for YouTube. "What I'm really excited about is now that we have all these new technologies for viewing the content, it can really transport people. So I don't think of it as using a camera to create a scene, I think of it as like a personal teleporter where you can send people to a new place. And that's really exciting."

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"Telling traditional stories but putting a new spin on them with 360 is something that all creators should be thinking about across all content verticals," says Wilms.

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"When I'm filming in 360, I try to place myself inside that camera," says Reid. "I want to make sure that the scene that I'm telling captures their attention and focuses them in the direction that I want them to be looking, rather than aiming. So if you really want someone to look that way, do something over there and then that will gather some people’s attention."

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"Whether it's up down, left or right and really the viewers feeling like they're present there, they're actually in the film maker’s shoes." says Wilms.

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"There aren't do's or don’ts yet and I think that we're looking for creators to define that," said Reid. "We know that there's some basic rules about comfort, like you know, don't spin people around and make them sick but other than that, it's really wide open."

"Getting started with 360 is actually really easy," Wilms said. "You can go out and buy a camera, consumer grade cameras that aren't very expensive. They integrate with YouTube. You can start filming immediately and upload your content directly to YouTube and start exploring and filming and seeing what works and what doesn't for your content. Viewers with a mobile phone, with a desktop computer, with a smart TV will be able to watch your content without any special hardware and really allow viewers to experience things like they've never experienced before."

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"360 is best when you want someone to be really close to something and to feel like they were there," commented Reid. "To form a memory of it. It's not really like a thing that I watched, it's a place I was at."

"One of recent examples is creators are starting to use 360 to live stream," says Wilms. "Doing things like putting a 360 camera on a red carpet at an award show to give viewers a whole new perspective and watch things live like they never could before."

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"I'm really excited to see all of the traditional things applied to VR and applied to spherical video and see what sticks," said Reid. "We really don't know the answer yet. There's going to be whole new genre's that we don't even know about that are going to emerge from this and it's really exciting about what that's going to be."

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