When it comes to 360 degree video, classic film making terms and techniques such as angle, lighting, establishing shot, subject focus, and rack focus are due for a major update. In fact, many more of these terms and techniques need to be broadened or they are at risk of becoming obsolete.
But it’s not just the lingo that video editors use that needs an update, the scope of video shoots and projects as a whole are primed for a transformation. Technology is rapidly advancing and video demand is pushing forward at an alarming rate. With massive brands like, Disney, Redbull, Johnson & Johnson, Fox and more, generating tremendous value by creating great 360 video campaigns, it’s important to acknowledge that the canvas of creation has changed. That change demands adaptation. There are new factors to anticipate that simply can’t be controlled when creating a 360 degree video.
Fortunately, the essentials of good video do remain but it will be up to you to explore which techniques you will use to illuminate them. This article hopes to give some of the key foundations to know how to best do that.
Marketing Insights for 360 Video
A recent study by “Think With Google” took to tackling the idea, is 360 video worth it. They partnered with columbia sportswear and two US olympic athletes to design and test a standard video campaign vs 360 campaign.
The main results they found were surprising. For example, they saw that the view-through rates (how many people watched to the end) were actually lower for the 360 video than the standard. They concluded that viewers are not always in the mood to interact with 360, which is an important note for campaign managers to consider when identifying their ad publication parameters.
Lower View-Through Rate but Higher Clickthrough Rate & Engagement
While the “view-through rate” during a 360 video is lower, the actual click-through rate is much higher. It means that though less people are watching the entire video, those that did watch are more interested in engaging with the brand. That’s big news for brands!
For the marketers out there, we can understand view-through rate with the same level of importance as “open rate” for emails; It’s not a critical variable.
Click-through rate is almost always more important since that’s where the conversions (ROI) metrics are.
Ultimately, engagement is the parameter that brands are looking for in the digital space and clickthrough is a very important signifier for the benefits of using 360 video. When brands are excited about likes, shares and comments, 360 is clearly the better choice. If you would like to dive into deeper details you can view the article here.
3 Critical Layers To Great 360 Videos
There are 3 technical layers that must blend together perfectly when it comes to creating an engaging 360 degree video.
- Panoramic View
The first two of these layers are important as a foundation point but it’s the third layer that can really create exciting and engaging material, allowing for robust story progression.
Let’s explore layer 1, Panoramic View. This is the essential basis of what your 360 video will be. It will encompass your background/setting of your key players and the positioning of where you want your camera to sit. You’ll typically be working from wide angle shots so it’s best to keep 16:9 at the forefront of your mind. Remember that setting and background is also critical in telling your story. You can also think about layering in little easter eggs that will catch the attention of users who browse the field of view (like the runaway piano in this Clash of Clans 360 video).
Layer 2 is movement. This is what the key players are going to be actually doing during the course of the video. Each actor must be aware of and engaging in some form of motion throughout. How much movement you want and when movements will occur should depend on your narrative style. If there is a narration going along, all players should be involved in movement. If there is a single speaker or conversation you may want to downplay background extra’s a bit to maintain attention on the speaker.
The final layer is motion, this is where 360 video really comes to life. You’ll need to determine the best potential rig to provide motion. I like to recommend drone set ups although there is a bit of a learning curve and the costs are not beneficial to the average consumer. Still though you can capture some phenomenal footage from this rig if done right.
Motion will bring the video to life. It provides a true sense of engagement and depth to an otherwise static visual tour.
For any of you speed junkies out there, check out this 360 Video by redbull of their F1 racing team. It’s a fantastic integration of 360 video and motion.
You can feel the rush of the engine and the movement of the the scenery pass by you. You can watch the racer’s movements and feel every twist and turn down the formula 1 track. It’s extreme action but we wouldn’t expect anything less from Red Bull.
Make 360 Stories Come Alive
Effective 360 videos bring their story to life, they pack in enough quality footage and movement to keep the excitement going.
There is incredible cinematic potential when 360 video is done right. Take a look at this new trailer for Icebreaker.
Now a few small caveats here. This is an animation and yes, it’s fully rendered 3d modelling in an interactive world. There is significant degree of control that the production teams have in this video but the point of this example is to highlight the cinematic value of 360. Michael Bay are you paying attention?
There’s is an incredible amount of visual excitement to explore when motion is introduced. It propels the story forward while absorbing the user into the world of the story.
Audience Insights - How viewers approach 360 VR/PC/MOBILE
VR is the best way to view 360 video, but it does requires effort. The viewer has to be in the right place with their equipment and they also need to have the disposable income to afford it. Although not as many viewers will use VR, those that do, are going to be more heavily engaged. Fortunately, new tech like Google Cardboard and other VR mobile adapters has increased access to this technology.
Even without the VR rig, consumers on PC and mobile can still enjoy 360 video. The accelerometers in smart devices provide a fun experience for mobile users and PC users can click and drag to fluidly view the scene.
The dynamic level of user-interaction options available for 360 is a significant reason behind the increased engagement factor and it’s growing ease of accessibility.
Building the 360 Video Production
Ready to try building a production of your own? Here are some essential technical points you need to be aware.
1. Plan to hide your crew.
You can use a nearby building as cover, props or banners. Whatever you decide to use, when your director calls Action everybody needs to hide. This is one of the biggest challenges in set planning but it’s a critical point to remember. You’ll need to keep this in mind as you select lighting opportunities and mic equipment as well.
2. Technology and Rigging.
The typical setup is linking together about 6-12 Gopro cameras and syncing all of them. Too much headache and work in my opinion and thankfully several companies have addressed this issue.
Facebook at their recent F8 conference gave out a handful of excellent 360 plug and play cameras. The cameras are obviously in an effort to push the eventual full scale launch of Oculus but Samsung has also followed suite with the launch of their newest flagship S8 phone. The Gear 360 promises excellence in 360 experience for the practical consumer.
If you’re looking to create a more advanced setup there is a plethora of options available but the expenses in terms of time and editing stitching are significant.
Smaller cameras offer the advantage of being able to be mounted onto a small drone for flyby shots and follows. While big rigs can be mounted to a stabilizer and helmet set up.
3. Editing Software.
This is going to be the most time consuming part of the process if you don’t plan properly. Wistia, offers a few good suggestions about synchronizing your videos and how to manage shots and takes. They suggest to just keep the film rolling if it’s not imperative to stop, and use an audible at the beginning of takes to help you synch your cameras. To ensure that your stitches are seamless, there are a variety of solutions out there. Most mainstream options are quite good, so choose based on the software you are most comfortable with. If you are already fluent in Adobe it’s best to stick with that. Note, some 360 cameras do come with their own editing software so you may get a chance to experiment..
4.StoryBoard for 360.
Don’t be afraid to accept that you can’t control everything. Unless you’ve got a Michael Bay esq budget, or a team of animators, you’re not going to be able to control everything in your video.
At best, you can build a 4way map and timeline for your storyboard. We recommend building a 4 direction timeline storyboard. Essentially, you can build out your story along the compass points. Interactions and actions can occur at any point in time at North, East, South or West and of course you can have those segments crossover to one another.
It’s important to build out the timeline this way as it will allow you to follow the different potential user paths that your audience will inevitably take and how you can lead them along the journey.
5. Direct surrounding focus to key attention points.
Utilizing a mixture of passive story elements and key elements is critical to making the story unique for each viewer but still maintaining the integrity of your message. Titles and captions can be drawn to with editing that reaches around to wider angles. Utilizing the right audio channels will also work to direct attention. You’ll have to play around with which effect will work best for your video.
360 video is a new way to market your brand
Ultimately 360 is about providing the viewer the freedom and entertainment to view where they want. Not everyone is ready to adopt 360 video just yet but the engagement brands will receive is going to be worth the investment to do it right. If your KPI is engagement 360 is an excellent approach. It’s very nature and essence is interaction and most importantly immersion. A lot of brands miss this point though in favor of trying to control the story. Create the landscape for your audience, let them flow with your story, and most importantly trust them to play and explore.