360-degree video is a fairly new technology. Special cameras capture a spherical video of an area, instead of a rectangular capture of a traditional camera. Experiencing 360-degree content is easier than ever. To learn more about 360-video we spoke to Michel Verspagen, owner of WeGoVR
Beginning of WeGoVR
4 years ago, I experienced VR at an expo for the first time. The technique intrigued me, and I began thinking of ways to implement it for businesses. In my opinion, even back in 2015, there was a tremendous value in VR for business.
WeGoVR, my business, was founded in 2015. Together with a partner firm we started doing various projects. These projects varied from app development to 360 video production. WeGoVR is the label we used for all our video productions. Ultimately, I shifted my focus to 360 content whilst my partner specialized in development.
The way I do business has always been to find the right people for every project. Depending on the project I may ask different partners to help execute it. For instance, we did a few projects on app development together. This method of working makes sure I’m flexible and can shift easily. Most of my business these days is focused on 360 video productions.
What made you decide to focus on creating 360 content?
Devices come and go. Companies like Oculus and HTC are booming now but there is no telling that this will stay the same for many years. The hardware may change but content is always necessary, so I try to diverse in the hardware I use. Because of this I can fully use my creativity and collaborate with other people to create projects.
Evolution of 360 content
The first commercially used 360-camera is called the ladybug. It used 6 sensors to capture 6 different angles to create one full 360 video. These cameras only captured 16 frames-per-second. Back then the infrastructure wasn’t ready for 360 content. Meaning there was no default VR soft- or hardware supporting the 360 videos. When no (standard) VR devices existed the only way to watch it was by dragging your mouse on a screen.
The success of 360 content came when the infrastructure matured. VR devices were hitting the market and ‘normal’ people could enjoy 360 content. A big boost came when Facebook bought Oculus in 2014. Samsung saw the potential of VR and collaborated with Oculus to create a VR device for the smartphone. The Gear VR was a major push to make VR more accessible for the masses. What made this push even more successful was that at the same time YouTube began supporting 360 videos. This way everyone can enjoy 360 content.
I believe that a technique like VR can only succeed if the infrastructure is well developed. In 2015 there were no VR devices, so demand for VR was low. Nowadays, you can buy a VR device in almost every store, so the demand is much higher. Also, because a major platform like Facebook supports it many people know of VR and experience it every day.
An episodic memory is a person’s unique memory of a certain event. Episodic memories are long-term memories used to store unique events or episodes from someone’s past. For example, most people will know exactly what they were doing at 9/11. Scientist aren’t exactly sure why certain events cause episodic memories and others don’t. They do believe emotion plays a key role.
VR is the closest we have come to causing these memories by computer simulation. The part of the brain responsible for encoding long-term memories is also triggered in VR. This means learning in VR is immensely powerful because of these memories. Training something in VR is effective because it combines theory and practices.
How does a 360-degree camera work?
Traditional film is captured in a frame. The director dictates the frame and only that part is visible on your screen. Because 360 cameras use multiple sensors, up to 16, it captures everything around you. Therefore, the video has no frame at all. The person watching the video is the director. Meaning you can watch it in any angle you want, from the place the camera made the recording.
Behind the scenes
You can steer people in the right direction by using any of these three methods:
- Play the action on stage. Make sure that around the action, in the background, nothing really happens. This way you’ll be steered in the right location: to keep looking at the stage.
- Special audio. Audio is played from the direction where the action happens, so you are naturally sent in the correct direction by following the sound. This method is used a lot because it makes the experience more immersive.
- Voice over. The narrator tells the story so people can watch the video freely without missing crucial information.
Tell us about the process of creating these videos
The first step is to identify what the client wants to show and accomplish with the video. After that you make a detailed script of the video. This includes things like what angles you will use and the story the video must tell. You also follow these steps when you go and shoot the video.
After you made your shots you enter the postproduction process. The postproduction process is a very different. 360 cameras shoot multiple video at once, sometimes up to 16 at a time. This makes it necessary to stich those multiple videos together. Stitching grabs the videos and turns it into a one video. Stitching a video takes some time. Editing is something you’ll learn after a bit of practice.
What’s the biggest challenge whilst shooting something in 360?
The biggest challenge is finding the right camera position. You have to find a balance between capturing everything you want and making it realistic. 360 video has some limitations you’ll need to take into consideration. Also, editing a 360 video is completely different in comparison to editing a ‘normal’ video.
Your predictions on the next 5 years
I believe VR will become a second screen in the living room. Whilst watching a show you can use VR to look behind the scenes or see extra content. In the future most people will have a VR device at home.
For business the value of VR and 360 content is even greater. Everyone can take advantages of VR at work. I believe recruitment and onboarding are some of the biggest sectors for VR. During recruitment it can be used to inform you about the job. After recruiting new people VR can train them before their first day of work. VR is here to stay and will only get better with time. As an entrepreneur I will always keep my eye on new opportunities.