The Future of 360° Photo and Video | Alexandre Jenny, Maheen Sohail, Luca Vascon, Gerda Leopold, Michael Kolchesky

The Future of 360° Photo and Video | Alexandre Jenny, Maheen Sohail, Luca Vascon, Gerda Leopold, Michael Kolchesky

IVRPA Tokyo 2018 brought together VR panoramic photography and 360° video professionals, which sparked a lot of debate and interaction on the mediums. One panel, The Future of 360 Photo and Video, moderated by Mettle Co-founder Nancy Eperjesy, looked at some of the key issues related to 360° and immersive media. Here we continue the discussion with the same set of panelists, Alexandre Jenny, Maheen Sohail, Luca Vascon, Gerda Leopold, and Michael Kolchesky. We gave each panelist the same set of questions.

Alexandre Jenny, Kolor | GoPro

What are some of the biggest challenges for 360 video and photography to become widely adopted?

Today, the biggest challenge is why we should use a 360 and not a standard 2D, narrow content.
There are some answers to that question but currently, the only one everybody is focused on, is because of HMD.
It is true that these devise, by their nature, encourage to consume 360 content and not 2D content. But it is always needed ?
To get widely adopted, we need to put the mobile at the center of that and that means flat screen consumption of 360 content and we need to get a real reason of using a 360 media instead of a 2D media.

Is monetization one of the key challenges?

Monetization is a challenge at both end of the industry, at creation and at building audience.
First, at creation, it is true that it cost more than 2D content to make. It is hard, it requires a lot of post-production, it is still challenging to integrate CG into that medium. Nonetheless, compared to just 2 years ago, massive improvements have been made and it starts to be something that many businesses can order whereas in the past, it was only the big brand that had the budget.
Then the audience. As the number of HMD is not that high, the real audience is limited by these devises and this is how many people calculate the audience. Which should not be the case. Again, a 360 video on youtube can get a really good number of views and only a fraction of these were through HMD. If the same 2D media and 360 media is compared from the viewer point of view, the feeling of being immerged is far higher, the empathy is higher, and this is gold for brands.
So there is definitively value to that new media but it will take some time to get to a full industry.

What needs to be done so that content creators can make more money?

We are still at Melies time of cinematography for that 360 media industry. What is important today is education. 2 years ago, everybody was doing 360 as it was nice to do that, it was the trend, the fashion to do that. What would help the industry to recover from fashion crisis is to write some real white papers about all these past good projects and tell what the outcomes were: number of views, audience, reaction, etc. We have to get move the industry from assumption to fact.
On those facts, the content creators will be able to make solid money.

Will the future of viewing 360 content be in or out of headset?

As said before, my opinion is that the vast majority of consumption will be out of the headset.

Is there a convergence of mediums?

That’s a nice word, a seductive concept, the humanity loves to unit all matters in a single word. But I don’t believe in it. Producing a good 360 requires just a completely different set that for 2D video, post processing is also really different, etc. Let’s make a parallel with the same trend that existed in the past with convergence of 3D assets produced for gaming and movie industry. Some company did try to build bridges between the game and the movie for the same franchise. There has been some attempt, but it didn’t really worked as far as I know.

How important is integrating interactivity and traditional 3D into Cinematic 360 photography and video?

For me, this is the most important topic to make the 360-industry successful. This could be the key differentiator compared to 2D content. Let me explains.
360 is already making you a bit more active than a standard video: you have to turn your head to look everywhere. And this small fact will divide the world in 2: the viewer that will never turn the head or drag the mouse to turn the video. For those, a 2D video is just fine. The second part are the one that got engaged in the first step, moving the head. And for those, we need to propose more, actions buttons that triggers something, nonlinear storytelling, augmented information with text, images, but also real 3D as overlays, or directly in a real 3D space. The end of this path is the full 3D game. Many viewers are used to that today and we need to aim toward that direction but based on captured content.
Look at the past 3 years evolution around Instagram. What did get them toward a bigger success? Interaction did play a lot there. Like on stories, sliders, etc.

Where do we go with 360 imagery?

For 360 imagery, there is no big central place. You can use google photo that understand that format and that’s it. There’s also google street view system, but it is too heavily focused on mapping application. We need something photographic / aesthetic oriented and my preference would be to have Instagram support 360.

Notes: theses reflections are my own and should not be taken to be also GoPro point of view. – Alexandre Jenny

Maheen Sohail, Facebook

What are some of the biggest challenges for 360 video and photography to become widely adopted?

For everyday users inaccessibility of cameras tends to be the biggest challenge for the wide adoption of 360 video and photography. In a world where everyone is walking around with smart phones in their pocket (with incredible cameras attached), investing in a separate 360 camera can gets in the way of wide adoption.

On the professional side the language for VR video and photography still needs a lot of exploration. Traditional filmmakers are a lot more comfortable telling stories with regular formats – we need to do a better job exploring and sharing what value 360 will provide to their stories.

Majority of the audience still does not understand what 360 or VR is. There is a large gap between the world of mobile and VR. We need to increase awareness and build compelling experiences that will allow cross platform asymmetrical interactions in and out of VR.

How important is integrating interactivity and traditional 3D into Cinematic 360 photography and video?

The key to good 360 photography and video is storytelling. Humans have been storytellers since the beginning of time, and have nailed it in traditional cinema. But even though You can feel immersed in a theatre watching a film, VR allows for a different type of immersion. Content is immersive when the viewer is in deep absorption and forgets about the real environment they are in. A large part of this immersion is having agency. When a viewer has a say in their experience; whether it’s helping make a decision that drives the narrative, holding a 3d object, or walking around the scene, the viewer becomes a participant. In order for cinematic 360 photography and video to be truly immersive, this transition of viewer to participant will benefit from taking interaction into account. However, not all stories will need interaction, it purely depends on the story being told and it’s value of being told in VR. Before telling any story in VR, it’s important for creators to ask themselves: what about their story makes it better in VR than other mediums?

Where do we go with 360 imagery?

360 images serve different purposes in different contexts. It can be an environment within VR apps like Facebook Spaces, or be a way for you to share your trip with your family as you’re connecting with loved ones in VR. It can also be a way to destress from a long day, and synchronously watch immersive content with friends and family from around the world. 360 is a type of expression format in VR. While monoscopic 360 are perhaps the most prevalent type of content for VR headsets, they lack 3D information and thus cannot be viewed with full 6 degree-of-freedom (DOF) yet. We need to create better experiences that will benefit from this format, but we also need to improve the technology both on the consumer and creation end to further the potential of this format. We also need to be exploring other types of technologies, like photogrammetry, to understand what type of imagery is best suited for the need.

Luca Vascon, lucavascon.net

What are some of the biggest challenges for 360 video and photography to become widely adopted?

I think the key is a correct use of the media. Like any other media, 360 imaging is not the solution to all communication tasks, but when used correctly it is really powerful. Its spreading will be helped by avoiding to define it within already known categories “video”, “photography” and “3D”

Is monetization one of the key challenges?

It IS. Monetization is mandatory, or all experienced content creators who invested the last 20 years building and inventing the new media will leave to go to make ice cream somewhere else, leaving the empty shell in a new media bubble, like 3d movies, or stereophotography. :-)

What needs to be done so that content creators can make more money?

Building culture of the media, both in customers and clients

Will the future of viewing 360 content be in or out of headset?

The choice of the user experience media will be depending on the content, and on the whole project. I’d say both inside and outside, but rarely the very same content will be in both worlds.

Is there a convergence of mediums?

There will always be. It is an interactive media, so we are dealing with a non-linear storytelling, ideal for gathering any kind of mediums in the same place.

How important is integrating interactivity and traditional 3D into Cinematic 360 photography and video?

We are already doing that, for architects and for many other customers. Being able to match moving 3D or simply adding 3D object or renderings in a simpler way would be great.

Where do we go with 360 imagery?

We are going, in small steps, towards integration of our imaginary with reality and everyday life. If this reply is both amusing you and giving you the creeps, it means you got my words right.

Gerda Leopold, Amilux FIlms

What are some of the biggest challenges for 360 video and photography to become widely adopted?

The challenge is to produce content which is interesting and also emotionally grappling. Filmmakers should get into VR and create stories which immerse the viewer into the narrative. When there are more stories around then things will get going.
HMDs like the new Oculus Go are also a plus, they make viewing easier, because the angle of vision is extended.

Is monetization one of the key challenges?

The challenge is to organize a network of different channels of distribution and to find a strategy for your own contents. And to actually to go ahead with it! There is never a save pass in monetizing any movie, even if you have the best actors, directors and scriptwriters.

What needs to be done so that content creators can make more money?

We should invest into content creation a lot more than into hardware. As long as people are too scared of creating stories in VR of possible lack of monetization, nothing will happen.

Is there a convergence of mediums?

If you mean convergence as a parallel development, yes, traditional cinema and VR films will influence each other. A development, which you can already see in your local cinema. And I don’t mean just Ready Player One, I can see it already how in movies stories are told and scripts are developped. It is good and interesting enrichment for traditional movies.
As for VR, I can say, there is no need to be afraid of integrating traditional storytelling into a VR movie. If you do it visually challenging, it will definitely be something different from a traditional cinema movie.

How important is integrating interactivity and traditional 3D into Cinematic 360 photography and video?

Interactivity can be great, if there is a good reason for it.
Stereoscopy is the salt of the earth for any narrative VR film; for me it is the reason why I got into VR in the first place.

Where do we go with 360 imagery?

360 imagery replaces 2nd life. There might be a time, where people will spend a lot more time in a VR world than in real life, but only if technology will provide it. So is this a good or a bad thing? We will see!
Michael Kolchesky, Visual Solutions 360

What are some of the biggest challenges for 360 video and photography to become widely adopted?

I think it is already partly adapted thanks to google, facebook, youtube and other web support that gave some 360 support solutions. The challenge now is to establish some standards that work, in terms of quality and of course image rights.  

Is monetization one of the key challenges?

Yes, definitely, as all image professionals we are struggling to make a profit with that medium, especially when all market of hardware, cameras, and other 360 equipment change rapidly and investing in good equipment cost money. not only one needs to invest in good equipment but also to be able to sell their services one needs a strong base of commercial, functional website and social media. 

What needs to be done so that content creators can make more money?

Good question, I also ask the same question for myself, I think more support from companies and mediums could help, also the possibilities to sell your own content yourself and not to depend on a 3th party and if so, the 3h party should respect their proper image rights. creators need to know their rights and to keep the market going they need to establish a price range that all will respect.

Will the future of viewing 360 content be in or out of headset?

I think it can be both. 

Is there a convergence of mediums?

I think more and more we see the mediums starting to convergence, but eventually, each one will keep its own particularity.

How important is integrating interactivity and traditional 3D into Cinematic 360 photography and video?

It is more and more important to make the contents more reach and interactive.

In both photography and video.

Where do we go with 360 imagery?

Everywhere we want ! :)

The International Virtual Reality Professionals Association is an international association of professionals who create and produce 360° interactive, immersive images and video, also called 360° panoramas. Our members include professional photographers, videographers, programmers, web developers, designers, software developers, hardware manufacturers, artists and enthusiasts, who produce immersive experiences.

http://ivrpa.org/event/tokyo-2018/

 

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