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The Journey From Linear Video to Virtual Reality

08/08/2016 12:24 | Updated 08 August 2016

In a world of ever changing video technology and demanding client needs, companies have to constantly consider how digital change and accessible video technology can help solve their toughest challenges. 27partners has created a video technology scale which covers the range of immersive video technology available for organisations, also providing a toolkit to ensure picking the right medium for business needs.

Linear Video
Traditional linear video is the standard film footage we see all over the internet, from YouTube links to Facebook-shared videos of cats. Currently it is what we are used to seeing every day on all forms of social media. It is an excellent tool for visually providing information and for allowing online global access to interviews and direct news reports, capturing footage that could otherwise be misrepresented by the written word. For businesses, avoiding a constant bombardment of dry emails and replacing them with videos which layout the information for you is likely to increase the ability to retain the information. However, we are living in a generation of multi-taskers where linear video struggles to hold our interest, it is easy to start playing a video and get distracted by something else.

360 Video
If you are a regular Facebook or BBC online visitor, you are likely to have encountered 360 video even though it is a fairly new system. It is created using multiple cameras shot at different angles and then later stitched together to build a huge piece of footage that covers a 360 radius. This enables users to move the film angle round to see different parts of, for example, a room. It provides a greater visual aid to the world inside the video, and gives a viewer the freedom to focus on what they are most interested in. It is an exciting new piece of technology, ITV's television series 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' being one of the first to use it on a mass media scale, gaining more than 2 million views. Leading video platform YouTube has also created a page dedicated entirely to videos uploaded in 360, from roller coaster rides to underwater shipwreck tours. Depending on what you are planning on creating, the camera's range quite considerably in price.

Live 360 video
Live 360 video takes the elements of standard 360 video, but streams it as the action unfolds for viewers. Any live video events are suitable for conferences or meetings that can't attended, or that you choose not to attend to save on travel costs. This not only provides an opportunity to attend the event from the comfort of your own office, but also to choose whether you focus your screen on the speaker, perhaps the presentation or even view the reactions of the audience. This level of technology is somewhat more complicated, with the stitching of the individual pieces of footage having to be done simultaneously as the filming occurs. Although achievable, this means there is a slight delay dependent on how quickly the data can travel across the network, and how high the quality of the video is. If a consumer's internet speed is poor the image becomes compressed, which could have a conflicting effect on the success of live 360 video. If the quality is poor and slow it will be counterproductive, instead decreasing viewership and engagement.

Interactive Video
Moving from one level of viewer control to the next, interactive video supplies an opportunity for users to interact with the content, allowing them to select options that change the video footage itself. This means that in some cases they are able to change the outcome of the video, and conclusively, what they watch. This format gives you a level of interaction at a low budget, and online there is a huge selection of software to build interactive video for minimal prices.

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Virtual Reality Audience
Virtual Reality is something you might be familiar with, but you may have wrongly made the assumption that it is exclusively for gamers. VR simulates 360 degree 3D images which, when wearing a headset with a screen in front of your eyes, immerses you in an environment different to your own. Often companies have to cover content which can be dull, so avoiding PowerPoint presentations and instead using VR to immerse people in what they are doing has great benefits. VR fundamentally puts you in a story which you watch unfold, but does not allow full control over the simulation. It is an evolving technology, therefore expenses on staff and equipment are higher and setting up the equipment takes time. Although there is a considerable price increase from other forms of immersive technology, VR costs range depending on the software and application you use. Google cardboard is an affordable basic version, whereas Oculus Rift is a more immersive and costly format.

Interactive Virtual Reality
Interactive Virtual Reality is currently the height of immersive technology, accompanied with the most captivating visuals and the most expensive price tag. Alongside the 360 degree images you are immersed within, interior elements which give a controller interactive choices and options. The HTC Vive has handheld controllers that enable a user to move objects and select icons within the VR world. This level of immersion captures user interest and retains it for longer periods, simply with more personable access and freedom to decide what goes on. An extensive set up process is required and for an organisation this piece of technology may be an unnecessary jump from smaller technology you might currently be working with, despite its revolutionary visual experience.

Before making a decision, it is important to consider what level of immersion you want by deciding what you want to use the technology for, because despite its current limitations it is possible that eventually, virtual reality will do to linear video, what cars did to the horse and cart. On top of this, always consider what technology your business currently has. If for example, all your staff have Android phones, you wouldn't want to start building a VR for iPhones.

27partners can work with companies to provide further advice on how to best use immersive video. We are specialists whose expertise can help you set up and test the latest technologies before committing to their price tags. It is important to us that you make the best choices for your organisation through engaging digital projects.

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