How do 360 videos work?

How do 360 videos work?

A GoPro Hero 4. CW | Jonathan Daniels

We have reached another level in technology. Facebook announced last October that they would now be supporting 360° video formats. With this came the release of a Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens video allowing you to fly through the deserts of Jakku on a speeder bike. 

The videos work using multiple lenses in a single camera. It can also work using a mount for multiple cameras. 

These cameras range from a more cost efficient handheld device such as the Ricoh Theta S, to the professional virtual reality camera, the Nokia Ozo. The Theta’s price tag sits at around $350—whereas the Nokia sits at $60,000. 

You can also use camera mounts such as the Freedom 360 to mount six GoPro Hero3 cameras in a cube. It sells for around $500. You can even control them using the GoPro Wifi remote. 

Here is a cool video using the Freedom 360 to record the world record skydive with 138 people. 

The pluses of this format allow the viewer to feel like he or she is there. It also allows people to view the videos on platforms such as YouTube—so they don’t have to buy VR hardware. However, there have been a few hiccups. The file sizes of these videos are much larger than a single lens camera. The file sizes can be a problem if you don’t have enough storage space. That’s where Facebook came in for the rescue. 

To allow for a faster viewing experience, they created the cube and pyramid format. The cube format reduces file size by 25%. The pyramid reduces it by 80%. These innovations allowed for a better viewing experience.   

The quality of these videos are also suffering. Most stream at 1080p, but the quality can look to be much less. 

Here is a 360 video my favorite gaming personality, Angry Joe at PAX South. This video shows off the ability to make you feel like you are there at the event. 

Overall, these videos have a lot of potential to change the way we see movies. 


Protip: You can use the wasd keys to control most videos—rather than using the mouse. 

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