360° video has quickly emerged as a unique medium that is able to offer deeper experiences for audiences compared to standard video or still imagery. It gives the viewer greater control to look around and discover more.
Research conducted by Google showed that 360° video delivers significantly higher performance than linear video: 41% more interactions, 5X higher click-through rate, higher repeat views, 46% higher full-length views and a higher share rate.
As a result of this more immersive experience, some of the most popular 360° videos are generating millions of views online. This 360° video of the Aurora Borealis created by William Briscoe has been viewed by 124,430,856 people – more than the global audience of Downton Abbey, the Rugby World Cup Final and the Superbowl).
However, simply shooting a video in 360° does not necessarily mean that it will attract eyeballs and engagement. Producing a captivating experience that the viewer wants to engage with requires vision, skill and an impeccable eye for detail. To help get you started, we have provided some tips and best practices that will help bring your creative vision to life.
Shoot with a camera that meets your needs
The 360° video market is rapidly evolving and as a result there’s a number of cameras to choose from that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It goes without saying that if you are looking to shoot a professional video then a budget camera you can plug into your smartphone won’t give you the high-quality you require. To help, we work closely with creators of 360° video and we even loan them professional level cameras for some of their projects.
For adrenaline pumping activities such as skiing or skydiving, we’d typically recommend the GoPro Fusion camera. For stationary shots, cameras like the Z Cam S1, S1 Pro and the Insta360 Pro are great options because they provide a full image circle, individual lens files and you can alter the shot remotely from a laptop, iPad or Smartphone.
Location, location, location
Once you’ve chosen your camera, the next step is to find the perfect location to film. Spend time thinking about the type of content you want to capture and what will make it special and unique. Don’t feel bad about exploring other photographers’ and filmmakers’ content for inspiration, make a note of which genres are the most popular and what hasn’t been shot in 360° yet.
If you are going to film a famous landmark or venue try and visit the location at different times of the day to establish the best place for you to set up, quality of light and the optimum time to film. Noise and the number of visitors peak at certain times of the day, so if you don’t want a shot filled with tourists then it is usually best to film earlier in the morning in the evening.
Understand the different requirements for editorial and commercial content
Before filming at your chosen location, make sure you have a good understanding of the differences between editorial and commercial content. Commercial content is used for advertising or promotional purposes and there are certain requirements your video needs to meet for it to be eligible.
If you are filming a commercial 360° video you should ensure that anyone noticeably visible in the shot signs a model release form, which grants the owner of the content permission to publish the content commercially. If you are shooting 360° video content on private property and showing that property, you will need to have a property release form signed by the owner or representative of the owner of the property. This also applies to places like national parks, estates like any National Trust property, amusement parks, museums, stadiums and palaces. Once all of your model and property releases signed, make sure that there is no branding or are no logos in shot. If a video doesn’t comply with any of the above then it is classified as editorial content, which can't be used to promote a product or brand.
Set yourself up for the perfect shot
The magic of beautiful and compelling 360° videos is that they look effortless, when in reality a lot of work went into setting up for that perfect shot. A lot of it comes down to practice, but there are a few simple things you can do before you start filming to maximise your chances of producing great content.
When preparing your scene or shot, try to minimise 'dead space' as much as possible. Avoid placing props in the scene just for the sake of it and ensure that you capture footage that provides meaning and purpose. Also, make sure your rigs and tripods are removed from the shot, otherwise, viewers will find it difficult to fully immerse themselves in your content. The best way to make sure your equipment isn’t in your video is by removing it during the post-production phase, with software like Mocha VR.
Stabilisation also plays a major role in creating captivating content. An unstable shot can make the viewer feel disorientated at best, or feeling physically sick at worst. Stabilising a shot can be difficult if you are using a handheld camera or if you’re moving. Some 360° cameras have in-built stabilisers, but there’s a number of software available that can be used in post-production to steady the horizon and reorient the camera view. Again, Mocha VR can help you here.
Stitch your way to success
Stitching has to be good. It turns footage from different cameras into a captivating 360° video. Stitching footage can be difficult and time consuming, but there is affordable software available that can make the process easier. Mistika VR is one of the fastest stitching software available on the market and it is fully compatible with any camera or rig.
The VR/AR industry is constantly changing and it’sits growth will be primarily driven by talented creatives who strive to provide audiences with the best and most creative examples. By following the tips and tricks above, we hope you too will be able to create some truly compelling 360° video experiences.
Simon is head of content at Blend Media.