There's been talk of 360-degree videos coming to YouTube for a while now, but on Friday, the company began to offer them to the world, and I have to say, it's pretty awesome.
First, let's just get right to the good stuff. YouTube has this playlist of six videos, which take advantage of the technology. For now, you'll only really be able to experience how cool it is if you're using an Android device, but if you're using Chrome, you can still kind of get the effect by using your mouse to drag the point of view around. On Android, just move your phone around to alter the perspective. I recommend sitting in a chair that swivels.
Support will come to iPhone, iPad, and other devices soon, according to Google.
"You share incredible videos with your fans every second of the day, but what if you could share even more in that video? Like, sharing the entire moment that you’re filming?" Google says on the YouTube Creator blog. "You could let viewers see the stage and the crowd of your concert, the sky and the ground as you wingsuit glide, or you could even have a choose-your-own-adventure video where people see a different story depending on where they look. Only you know what’s possible."
"Remember when the vantage point of the fisheye lens blew your mind? Now let’s see what you can do with every possible angle at your recording fingertips," it says.
Cameras that either support 360-degree video, which are either available now or are coming soon, include: Bublcam, Giroptic’s 360cam, IC Real Tech’s Allie, Kodak’s SP360 and RICOH THETA.
Documentation for spherical video is available here. The python script for running on the video file to insert the correct metadata can be found here. Google says it is working to make this automatic, but until then, the script ensures the video will be uploaded to YouTube as a 360-degree video.
It's going to be very interesting to see what people do with this. There's no question that brands are already salivating over the opportunities.
YouTube is hosting a technology showcase from now through April at YouTube Space L.A., where creators can stop in and try the new cameras and get some hands-on training from YouTube staff.