As marketers, we’re expected to have our fingers on the pulse of the world at large—but we can’t do that in a vacuum. It’s important that we step back from our inboxes, spreadsheets, and bottomless cereal bars to practice what we preach #IRL. In that spirit, I decided to bring Forge’s 360 camera along on a recent ski trip to Tahoe and try out the latest tool of the trade myself.
As a quick primer, a 360 camera simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene, allowing viewers to watch the resulting 360 video from different angles by panning and rotating the video’s perspective. It’s still early, but we’re giddy about the possibilities—profiling YouTube’s implementation of the technology, Verve called it “the gateway drug to virtual reality.”
I’ve taken my fair share of picturesque skiing videos and panoramic mountain landscape photos, but the 360 camera opened a whole new world of opportunity. Here’s what I uncovered about what this new tool can offer to marketers, with examples from some of the best instances of brands utilizing 360 videos from around the web:
Capturing the “You Had to Be There” Moments
Everyone has been somewhere where a photo or traditional video doesn’t quite capture the full effect of the experience. Tahoe is one of those places. For anyone that hasn’t been, dramatic snow-capped mountains butt up against the strikingly blue Lake Tahoe, creating a truly breathtaking view. Any photo or video you take is best followed by “you had to be there.” But the 360 camera allows you to bring the full moment to life. Whereas with traditional video you are creating manufactured moments—stitching together pieces of an experience to create a narrative—with 360 video you capture the authentic environment all around you. “You had to be there” moments turn into “I feel like I’m there” experiences.
Creating Elements of Surprise
Beyond making you feel like you’re there, 360 video documents things you might not have even noticed in the moment itself. Looking back at a video I took at the top of a chairlift, I didn’t just see the incredible view in front of and behind me, I also saw myself smiling and panting as I skate, the two guys behind me intently looking at the trail map, and frightful kids’ faces as the chair lift came to a halt. These might not be the most interesting surprises, but you can imagine how a more thoughtfully produced video could have these sort of Easter eggs. Because we don’t naturally have 360 degree vision, 360 video offers an enhanced view into the world where we can experience a single moment from a multitude of vantage points. Viewers can watch 360 videos again and again and notice new details or dimensions every time as they explore the same scene from various positions.
Giving Viewers Control
With traditional video, every minute of footage is shot from a particular perspective. The videographer or creative director carefully stages each scene and stitches it together into a cohesive narrative. Even if viewers are engaging with our content, they aren’t actively controlling what they see. We, as marketers and content creators, are still dictating the experience. With 360 video this all changes. The viewer is creating the narrative, determining what they see in how they navigate the scene.
By shooting Lewis Hamilton, one of the world’s best F1 drivers, behind the wheel of their E63 AMG S performance wagon, Mercedes puts viewers in the driver’s seat, complete with an iPad app that takes advantage of the tablet’s gyroscopic technology:
So where can 360 video be most effective? The potential for 360 video is just being unlocked, but there are certain industries and use-cases that present an immediate opportunity. For instance, 360 video can provide enhanced instructional value to physical product demonstrations where viewers can experience a product in its fullest form. Industries such as healthcare and education, whose value relies heavily on personal experience and interactions, can utilize 360 video to bring their story to life. 360 video offers a particular opportunity to extend the impact of events, capturing the energy, action, and pulse in a way that isn’t possible through any other medium.
Forge Films has a few 360 video projects in the hopper, so stay tuned—we’re looking forward to sharing how we’re putting this innovative technology to use for our clients in the coming months. Ready to schedule a shoot? Still on the fence? Get in touch—we’d love to give you the full picture of how 360 video can help bring your brand to life.