Google takes a step back from 360-degree videos to help creators catch up with creative content.

All images via Google.

Unless you are  running from an attacker, do you normally care about what’s behind you? How often do you look over your shoulder? Probably not too often. This was Google’s realization, and they have  applied it to their VR space. Why focus so much on 360-degree videos when most users only want to see what is in their peripheral vision?

Thus, Google has now launched VR180. The experience is the result of a collaborative project between the Google VR divisions at YouTube and Daydream. A benefit of VR180 is that you can experience the video content with or without goggles. Without a VR headset, the videos will appear as standard flat video. With a Cardboard, Daydream, or VR headset, the video will transform into a more immersive experience. The footage will render a 180-degree field of view in stereoscopic 3D.

Google Announces VR180 Content for YouTube and Daydream — VR-180

The benefit of shooting 180 vs. 360 is the ease of stitching, smaller file sizes, and potentially much simpler production. You would no longer need to worry about gear like lights and cameras appearing in the shot.

The upside, says Erin Teague, YouTube’s VR product manager, is ease of use. There’s no need to master new editing techniques, stress about what sits behind the camera, or waste time telling viewers how to move their smartphone around or drag a video on their laptop. Best of all, in a perfect world, VR180 frees people from choosing between making high-quality videos for everyone and making immersive videos for early adopters. Watch a VR180 video on your phone, and it flattens and stretches a bit, no big deal. “They look just like any other YouTube video we have on the site,” Teague says. “So there’s no need to pan around or move your phone around.” Pop it into a Daydream headset, and the footage fills your field of view. — Wired

Google Announces VR180 Content for YouTube and Daydream — Daydream

To create this type of content, Google’s Daydream has partnered with camera manufacturers like Yi Technology, Lenovo, and LG to create 180-capture cameras. Those cameras should be available later this year. In the meantime, YouTube Creators who live in a city with a YouTube Space can apply for a loaner camera.

Google has also released the following seven videos in a YouTube VR180 playlist.

This news comes just after Adobe announced its acquisition of Mettle’s SkyBox VR tools. Expect to see those tools natively in Premiere Pro and After Effects in the coming months. It seems that immersive video is taking a step back for content creators to catch up, and that’s a good thing. This is just another way to ease the public into wearing VR headsets.


What are your thoughts on the state of 360 video? Let us know in the comments.