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Main article: 360 video

Topics from 1 to 8 | in all: 8

Essential Phone can now stream live to Facebook from the 360 camera add-on

22:09 | 9 November

The Essential Phone just got a camera software update that will allow owners of the device to broadcast live, 360-degree video right from the native camera app, provided they have the Essential 360 Camera, too. The update requires no extra software, and live streaming becomes available as soon as you snap the 360 camera onto the magnetic accessory port on the back of the Essential Phone.

Snapping on the camera will boot up the camera app as before, in 360 mode, and then you can either tap the 360-degree Live option, or just swipe left to switch to that mode. On first use, you’ll have to tap that red “Live” camera button to login to your Facebook account, and then enable permissions for posting to your account.

After that, you can choose the reach of your broadcasts, including the standard Facebook sharing options of “Only me, Friends, Friends of Friend and Public.” Users can also fill in a description of their stream if they want to, and then tap that red icon once again to get to actually streaming. After this initial process, you’ll be authenticated for future streams.

Essential clearly has a strong belief in the potential of 360-degree media. I spoke to the team about it being their debut accessory for the modular connector on the Essential Phone’s back, and it’s clear they think that getting ahead of the curve for creating and sharing 360 content quickly and easily will position them well in future. The Essential 360 Camera and Phone combo now probably also represents the easiest possible way to get streaming live in 360-degrees with Facebook, so we’ll see if that strikes a chord with users.

Featured Image: Darrell Etherington

 


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Twitter introduces 360-degree video live streaming

01:27 | 29 December

Twitter is taking another step into getting into live video by introducing 360-degree live streams through Periscope.

Anyone on Twitter and Periscope can watch 360-degree live video, though currently only select partners can go live in 360 via Periscope, the company announced in a blog post. While it’s only available for a limited number of partners for now, it makes sense that Twitter would start rolling out a tool like this as live streaming becomes increasingly popular on platforms like Facebook.

360 Sunset in Florida. First ever #Periscope360 with @Brandee_Anthony https://t.co/AZWbnnT15S

— Alex Pettitt (@Alexpettitt) December 28, 2016

So, Twitter is trying to release yet another new product as it continues to try to find a new future for itself in 2017. This was a very challenging year for Twitter, which saw itself as the subject of a potential major acquisition before those talks fell apart. Since then, Twitter has struggled to figure out new ways to grow and has only incrementally added new products and features.

It looks like live streamers will plug a camera into the bottom of a phone in order to start recording and broadcasting the video, which is seen in the screenshot below taken from the video (apologies for poor quality).

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With live 360 video, users can get a full capture of what’s going on for a broadcaster’s surroundings. Right now, as it’s limited to partners, which will no doubt use this as a playground to discover new use cases, it looks like there won’t be a ton of live 360-degree video for a bit. But this could also be a strong play to attract new influencers that it may see flocking to other platforms, giving them new tools (or toys) to play with in order to continue building their audience.

If you want to read into the tea leaves a little bit here, the company post was authored by Alessandro Sabatelli, the company’s director of AR and VR. So feel free to speculate as you wish while Twitter has said it is starting to explore opportunities in this area.

Making big changes to a platform with a wide audience — in Twitter’s case, though it isn’t growing as fast as Facebook, one with more than 300 million people — is always going to be tricky. But the company needs to continue to make big bets, particularly in video (it acquired Periscope), if it’s going to find a new way to ignite growth.

 


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This crazy $30,000 drone gives your 360° video wings

22:19 | 7 November

One problem with 360° videos is that you usually see a tripod or a hand holding the camera. One exception is the throwable Panono camera, but obviously you’re limited to how long you can keep a ball hovering. Varavon has another alternative, with a three-axis-stabilized gimbal drone that can film a full 360° sphere without being visible in the picture itself.

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As a result, the drone can record footage that is extremely difficult to get in any other way. Because of the stabilizer, the drone can move freely in space without upsetting the video footage. Incredibly clever stuff.

When I spoke to the manufacturers, they said they hadn’t set a final price for the device yet, but suggested that it would be priced for professional use. “Expect the price to be around $30,000,” I was told. Which is pretty bold, considering that a competitor is available for about one- fifth that price.

Either way, the VR Gimbal drone from Varavon should be available later this year; for now, however, check out a demo video of it in action.

 


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Facebook brings emoji to VR with 360 Reactions

22:35 | 22 June

Watching 360-degree videos alone on your Gear VR is about to get a little less lonely. Oculus just rolled out the ability for users to see and leave Facebook’s five emoji reactions on 360 Videos within Gear VR’s video app.

While Reactions started as a risky attempt at tampering with Facebook’s iconic Like button, they’ve become a popular way to convey emotion and make social networking just a little more human. This is why Reactions will be especially helpful in VR — the platform can be lonely because you’re the only person seeing content. So seeing your friends reactions may make the experience a little more social.

Plus, since no one is going to be typing inside VR, Reactions will let people convey complex emotions without breaking the momentum of an experience. 

This rollout is another sign of Facebook slowly bringing to VR features that are mainstays in the Facebook ecosystem. The company has always said that VR and Oculus are important parts of its product roadmap, meaning we could see even more future integrations between Facebook’s Oculus platform and Facebook’s good old social networking platform.

While Reactions are launching today for 360 Videos, Oculus will also be rolling them out to 360 Photos in the coming weeks.

 


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Google’s new 360-degree short ‘Pearl’ puts you in the passenger seat with dad and daughter

21:52 | 20 May

It’s Friday, so you can probably spare a few minutes to watch a heartwarming little 360-degree animated film, the latest in Google’s “Spotlight Stories.” This one, entitled “Pearl,” takes place entirely inside a beat-up ’80s sedan, and traces the story of a girl and a guitar. It made its debut at the end of Google’s “Bridging the physical and digital” session at I/O today.

Directed by Patrick Osborne, an Oscar-winning animator who’s worked on a number of big recent CG films, “Pearl” has a sort of lo-fi charm to it. I was reminded of both the stylized earnestness of Life is Strange and the old-school flat-shaded rotoscoping of Flashback and Another World.

It’s no coincidence that games came to mind — “Pearl” isn’t captured in 360 the way an ordinary video is. Instead, it is an actual 3D environment being rendered in real time — in a game engine that Google’s ATAP team has reduced to less than a megabyte.

“Apparently that’s hard,” quipped Osborne on stage. His job, of course, was to craft a story, not an engine — something that can be difficult when the user can look anywhere and choose not to pay attention to what might be important story elements.

Osborne, a confessed “control freak,” decided to create a “road trip musical” and restrict the viewer to the passenger seat, from which vantage he could inconspicuously frame action by using the car’s natural geometric elements.

As with other 360-degree compositions, you might miss a few things the first time round — that’s by design, really. As Google’s Spotlight Stories tech lead Rachid El Guerrab said before introducing Osborne, this is a major challenge.

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“When you’re immersed in a story, it’s all around you,” he said. “How do we tell you where to look? How do we prevent you from getting lost or missing an important part of the story?”

He showed a few techniques for guiding the user’s attention — changes in music, helper characters that bring you back the action’s focus, and so on. But the only real solution seems to be multiple viewings — and in order to accommodate that, it’s worthwhile for the director and team to make sure there’s content in all directions.

This is, of course, not every director’s preference, and what some see as advantages provided by 360 may hamper the style of others. “Pearl” seems to strike a balance between traditional and 360-degree composition — make it full screen (hit one of the high resolutions, too) and see how you like it.

 


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Topics from 1 to 8 | in all: 8

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