by Brock Horning | Stornaway.io, April 2023
The huge potential of 360 video to create immersive experiences has excited creators and brands for years, but that potential has not always been easy to realise – until now.
Presenting video in 360 degrees can encourage viewers to explore and engage with your experience in a way not possible with traditional 16:9 videos. For brands, it has been proven to increase retention and have a longer-lasting impact on viewers.
And this is before you add in the greater impact of interactive.
It is only recently that the technical challenges and storytelling hurdles have been overcome. Marketers are now free to discover the true potential of interactive 360 – achieved quickly and easily through Stornaway.io.
360 video pitfalls to avoid for businesses
Many early business examples of 360, such as this NBA All Star 2019 Behind The Scenes are nice in principle but limited in scope. Often the filmmakers have simply swapped a traditional camera for a 360 one and used the same filming and editing techniques for VR. So while you could look in any direction, there’s not much to see in 300 of those 360 degrees.
Gaining a keener insight into the different filmmaking principles is essential for truly immersive 360 content. From a technical perspective, quick and easy software options for editing VR or 360 are in short supply. If you are simply uploading single shots from your Insta360 onto YouTube or Facebook, you are not the only one.
From a storytelling perspective, editing for VR and 360 is very different from traditional 16:9. As all shots are essentially an extreme wide angle, and you don’t know which way the viewer will be looking at any given moment, transitions can be very jarring. You also want audiences to have time to explore the scene so quick cuts are unlikely to work well.
Interactive 360 – why interactive and 360 were made for one another
Interactive media and 360 video are both ways to give your audience greater control. The viewer can explore your experience in their own way. While each is a powerful tool on its own, to provide your audience with a truly immersive virtual experience, it has to be interactive 360.
Adding the interactive element allows viewers to not only choose which direction they are looking but also control the narrative journey. 360 filmmakers can extend the immersive nature of their work and connect scenes together seamlessly. No more jarring transitions – audiences navigate through the experience in complete control.
The business case: how interactive 360 video enhances the brand experience
A study by Google found that 360 ads drove 41% more earned actions than standard ads. At the same time, Qualifio reports that interactive video is 81% more effective at grabbing people’s attention than static. It’s clear that these immersive experiences can be a powerful tool.
Here are a few ways that businesses are already creating immersive experiences:
Having 360 degree coverage of an event puts the virtual audience right there in the thick of the action, experiencing it all for themselves. Music gigs, fashion shows or similar, such as MTV’s coverage of this Shawn Mendes concert, are usually shown without any additional elements to recreate the lived experience as closely as possible.
Sometimes, and this is used more frequently in promotional campaigns, additional information is shown to take advantage of the virtual nature of the experience. This 360 clip promoting Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway works in fun facts and additional information effectively.
Now imagine if you as the viewer were given full control. You could explore and choose where you’d like to enjoy the Shawn Mendes concert from rather than being bounced between cameras. You could find out more information about a specific topic if one of the Aladdin facts peaked your interest. You could make the experience more personally relevant to you.
Another popular way to use 360 video is in scenario-based training. This example from Accenture, The Future of Compliance Risk Management, shows how 360 video can make a relatively dry topic a lot more engaging and immersive.
However in this instance, even 360 video has it’s limitations. A study by Kaltura revealed that 72% of people don’t give linear training videos their full attention. The immersiveness of 360 will help but to really push up those retention rates, companies need to question the viewers understanding and allow them to solve scenarios on their own. Adding an interactive element would make all the difference.
The strongest 360 videos are visually compelling and have interesting things to see in every direction. This lends itself nicely to the tourism industry, helping to give potential visitors an enticing taste of popular destinations. This London City Guided Tour takes you through the hotspots of the city and allows you to look around as you listen to the guide in front of you – just like on a real tour.
Making it interactive, Stornaway founders Kate and Ru showcased the Scottish isle of Tiree in 360. Viewers can choose how they explore – take the full journey from the mainland or head straight for specific sights in Tiree. Kate and Ru have added extra information and insight into the amazing scenes to enhance the experience.
To end on a quick bonus example. The Stornaway team loved this 360 exploration of Surrealist master Salvador Dali’s painting Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus made to promote The Dali Museum.
How to share and watch interactive stories using 360 video
There are now a wide range of options when sharing interactive 360 videos. Stornaway.io makes delivering your interactive 360 projects to websites, cinemas, YouTube and, via our Unity Plugin, to a range of gaming and app platforms, plain and straightforward. It can deliver straight to Oculus headsets – no coding required at any point along the way.
If you have an idea for an interactive 360 experience, find out more about interactive 360 in Stornaway or start mapping it out straight away by trialling Stornaway for free.