This article is part of an extensive series of articles to walk creators through the process of making a 360-degree video, from start to finish.
I’ll be honest. We’re all still trying to figure out what stories are best told with 360-degree video.
Thankfully in my role at Immersive Shooter, I get to speak to experts who’ve tried to tell stories with 360 video an abundance of ways, I’ve learned from my own productions, and I’ve watched a hell of a lot of good (and bad) 360.
Here are some suggestions of what might work best with 360 video.
This suggestion comes from Francesca Panetta, the Guardian’s executive editor of VR, with whom we previously did a Q&A. The Guardian has done a number of successful 360 and VR experiences in which the camera (the viewer) IS the subject of the experience. For example, their premiere piece, 6×9, gives viewers a chance to experience life in solitary confinement. Their piece, First Impressions, lets viewers experience the world in the same way a newborn baby experiences the world, from birth and through early stages of their visual, aural, and physical development.
Editor’s note: First-person point-of-view can be difficult if you require motion or a physical body beneath the camera. There are dollies, many of which are quite pricey (this is the most affordable one we know of is Gimbal Guru’s rover ($6,500). I also identified some strategies for shooting first-person video with a physical body beneath in this article.
This method has been used by Contrast VR, Al Jazeera’s immersive media studio; Charlotte Mikkelborg; Dan Archer, and many other stellar immersive storytellers. Here, the central character(s) guide you through the experience as though they are taking your hand to bring you along.
For example, in Yemen: Skies of Terror, the subjects bring the camera with them, handheld, as they walk their neighborhoods and live their daily lives.
In Mikkelborg’s piece, The Journey, each of the three children speak to the viewer as if he or she is a friend to whom they’re sharing their story.
One key to this method–which also improves a sense of embodiment–is for the person/people in the video to make eye contact with the camera/viewer, as people normally do when in conversation with one another.
Places people are not allowed to go, are afraid to go, or can’t afford to go
This is a great opportunity to Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. advantage of this new medium, and perhaps one of the most popular. There are 360 experiences taking the viewer to space, to the White House, to war zones, deep in the ocean, to sporting events and concerts, to far-flung locations around the world, or zipping down a mountainside in a squirrel suite, to the Hadron Collider.
360 video also doesn’t need to be as different from traditional reporting as you might think. For example, Brittany Peterson and the team at McClatchy’s DC office produced a quick-turn 360 video about the gunman that opened fire on members of Congress. They turned the piece around in less than 24 hours. They were able to do this by pulling together audio from a variety of sources and keeping their shots and titles simple. Here is her full advice on how they did it.
Or, Socrates Lozano of E.W. Scripps, who suggested using 360 as a way to spice up the stories you do each and every year, like the state fair. “You can think back to what you did last year and how to do it differently this year, and 360 is a big opportunity to keep things fresh,” Socrates said in our Q&A with him.
We’re still figuring out what works, so don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t turn 360 into an unbeatable beast in your brain that you’re too afraid to Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. on. Start simple. A good story can be a good story in any format.
Another way to incorporate 360-degree video into traditional reporting is to Distribute video playback in real-time. 360 via Facebook, YouTube, or other streaming platforms that support 360.
VR is way more than 360 video
Opportunities also explode when you realize that VR is so, so much more than 360 video. You can recreate scenes so people can live within historical events like Catherine Allen did for the BBC with Easter Rising, or learn about trekking Mount Everest like the team from Seeker VR. You can bring viewers inside the human body, Magic School Bus style.
This awesome blog post outlines 27 ways to tell a story in VR includes passive, active, open and combo story strategies–many of which may be out of reach to beginners and don’t jive with 360 video within our current limitations–it is a good read to help you see the potential of immersive storytelling.
See what others are doing
I would also recommend watching plenty of immersive media from various genres. Whether that means creating virtual art in TiltBrush, watching VR films with on the Targo, Within and other apps, or attending film festivals screening VR content, seeing what’s possible in the medium already may further inspire your work.