Immersive video is now accessible to just about anyone, both on the creator and audience side. 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). The best way to watch these is probably with your Android phone (Cardboard isn’t yet supported, since it doesn’t do split-screen, but that’s the obvious progression), 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.
We’ve seen some interesting applications of immersive video already, including offering a vantage point of live concerts from on stage, as well as putting you in the middle of news events for journalistic reports. 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.