You Can Now Watch and Upload 360-Degree Videos on YouTube

14 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Barf Bags Optional! 360-Degree Videos Come To YouTube.

As first promised back in January, YouTube has officially begun supporting 360 degree video formats in the majority of its mobile and web platforms. It may be a tad later than originally anticipated, but YouTube has just added support for 360-degree videos, making the massive video sharing site more useful to owners of VR headsets.

YouTube is introducing 360-degree videos to its service, allowing users to watch the films through their browser as well as by using their phones as a version of virtual reality.Imagine watching a concert online and being able to not only see your favourite band rock out on stage, but also the excited crowd and the star-filled sky above the venue. Google just turned on 360-degree video uploads for YouTube creators, letting anyone who can film the immersive footage using something like the Bublcam or Ricoh Theta the ability to put their creations on YouTube, where they can be viewed in the YouTube for Android app or in Chrome (with iPhone and iPad support coming soon). Now, they’re here: as of today, Google’s streaming video service now serves up videos that let you look in any direction—not just where the camera is pointing.

The company suggests that the new tool could be used to let viewers “see the stage and the crowd of your concert, the sky and the ground as you wingsuit glide, or you could even have a choose-your-own-adventure video where people see a different story depending on where they look”. Although there was just one video on display at launch — a live performance by Madilyn Bailey — it gave users a whole new way to plunge themselves into streaming content. The best way to watch these is probably with Cardboard or something equivalent for now, but with the rapid growth of OEM interest in virtual reality and other immersive viewing headsets, this YouTube update paves the way for a future in which we watch from inside the online movie. The process is a little clunky at the moment, with a requirement that you run a Python script to ensure the correct metadata is applied to your video file to get YouTube to recognize the upload as a 360-degree clip, but YouTube says it’s working on automating that part of the process so that likely won’t apply for long.

The appeal of 360-degree videos is that you can look around the scene while they’re playing, making action sports videos in particular that much more exciting and interactive. Google is working with a number of cameras and manufacturers, including Bublcam, Giroptic’s 360cam, IC Real Tech’s Allie, Kodak’s SP360 and the Ricoh Theta, so that the 360 videos they capture are easy to upload to YouTube.

All you need is the existing YouTube app for Android, and then you can move your phone or tablet around to see all different angles as the 360-degree video plays. YouTube making this available to everyone through its omnipresent platform means it’s becoming far easier to get your hands dirty and try things out before immersive video becomes widespread – more commonly available and affordable recording hardware should help that along, but if VR truly becomes mainstream, 360 camera accessories for things like your smartphone won’t be far behind. YouTube hasn’t yet made the feature automatic, so content creators will need to use specific equipment and a special process to start uploading 360-degree videos, but eventually, everything will be streamlined.

The Samsung Gear VR, which straps a Galaxy Note 4 to your face with head-tracking goggles, is itching for content beyond Google Street View videos and a handful of gaming titles. That said, if you don’t have an Android device, you can still watch 360-degree videos by going to YouTube.com on your computer or watching embedded videos in Chrome. That includes Kickstarter phenom Giroptic and its 360cam, which records the action from three different directions, Bublcam (which records from four, 190-degree lenses), and Ricoh’s Theta. Yeah, the quality’s a little low right now—unless you bump these up to super high resolutions, it’s a bit of a mess. (Project lead Anjali Wheeler says 360 degree videos take up 4 to 5 times as much bandwidth as a traditional YouTube video.) But think about the possibilities. Videos shot on all these cameras need to go through a special upload process, though YouTube says it’s working on its uploader so that 360-degree video will be identified automatically.

Last month, it began testing a way to change camera angles during videos, something that requires videomakers to upload and combine multiple clips along the same timeline. Makers of 360-degree cameras expect these videos to soon be ubiquitous. “Similar to Flip driving the popularity of YouTube video and the idea of sharing, 360-degree cameras and technology take video as we know it to the next level,” said Paul Meyhoefer, vice president of marketing at JK Imaging Ltd, maker of the Kodak SP360. We found it a bit nauseating to navigate at the time, but it was definitely fun to try and even allowed us to capture an on-screen photo of the concert and share it.

A user could remotely watch their kid’s tee-ball game or keep an eye on an elderly parent. “To get the feel of what was happening at that time, nothing compares with the 360-video experience,” said Anjali Wheeler, a Google software engineer who worked on the YouTube technology. “Personally I believe it can actually get very big and as common as video cameras.” He’s used a Ricoh Theta to record everything from his New Year’s Eve party to his son’s soccer practice, and finds himself using it more and more. “It’s the natural progression of cameras,” said Sailor, who likens the shift to our move from VHS to DVD to BluRay and to 4K. “Just like everything else in our life continues to escalate and get better.” He envisions one day building 360-degree cameras into football and hockey helmets so that fans can watch the games through the eyes of their favorite player. Google’s even planning to offer the cameras to the creators in its YouTube Space in Los Angeles, and work with them to figure out ways to tell 360-degree stories.

During its second annual developers conference in San Francisco, Samsung announced Project Beyond, a camera that not captures 360-degree views and 3D footage. The eventual goal is that you’d be able set the camera outside, and then, from elsewhere, navigate and see through that camera as if you were in there by simply wearing Samsung’s virtual reality headset.

While Google recommended using a 3D camera for better results, the feature included a conversion process that worked for all 2D video uploaded in HD regardless of camera. More recently, YouTube quietly unveiled a beta feature that essentially allows a content creator to upload multiple camera angles for a video, thus enabling you to watch that multi-angle video along with the audio track.

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