by James Rosario
Mark Zuckerberg claims that 8 billion videos are viewed by 500 million users on Facebook every day. That’s a bold statement considering that the world’s premiere video site, YouTube, only claims 4 billion views a day. Are these numbers fudged? Probably, especially considering that Zuckerberg and Co. count just 3 seconds as a “view.” Still, those numbers are impressive, even if a bit inaccurate.
Facebook has a lot up its sleeve when it comes to video on their platform, but what we’re going to talk about is 360 Video, a technology that they’re trying very hard to be at the front of.
To put it simply, 360 video is an interactive way to watch video in which the viewer can pan and rotate the camera in order to see a complete 360 degree view. It’s an impressive trick that can yield some interesting results. The 360 view is achieved by two or more extremely wide angle lenses mounted on either side of the camera that capture footage at the same time. This footage is then “stitched” together, producing an apparent 360 degree view.
I can certainly see the potential for this technology’s use in D.I.Y. filmmaking down the road, but as it stands now, the video quality is quite poor, and the “stitching” is visible (you can see where the shots from the two cameras overlap). The interactive nature of the technology is also something that most filmmakers won’t find particularly appealing. We meticulously plan and execute our shots to be seen on a 180 degree plane. The sudden emergence of a 360 degree plane would dramatically change the way films are made, and we like films just the way they are.
However, this technique will undoubtedly be popular with regular social media users who are interested in simply sharing videos of themselves and their friends occupying a 360 world, and that’s just fine. I look forward to seeing where this technology advances and how it could be responsibly used in a more traditional cinematic sense beyond that of Facebook and other social media sites.
Virtual Reality (VR) is the ultimate goal here, a completely immersive viewing experience that takes over all of your senses. 360 Video is just the beginning of this. Is this sort of landscape destined to be the future of filmmaking? My personal opinion is a resounding “I hope the hell not!” Most in the film industry see it as a fad, and I agree. Those in the video gaming world, however, will have a different opinion all together, and that’s fine.
The potential for video game enhancement with VR technology boggles my mind just thinking about it. Film and video games certainly share some qualities, but where they differ, and where they should always differ, is that one is interactive, and one is observatory. You play one, you watch the other. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but that works for me.
Besides, haven’t any of you ever seen the movie The Lawnmower Man? Who wants to live in that kind of world?
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