🚀 RED's Hydrogen, VR180: Future or Past?, Storyliving not Storytelling, Netflix's Interactive TV Shows, Heatmaps (Newsletter #19)

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July 6 · Issue #19 · View online
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Metrics matter. Did you know that VR audiences spend “75% of the time” looking straight ahead in a 360 video? This is a big talking point, thanks to YouTube’s publicly available 360° Heatmaps analytics tool
Which explains why after two years of “excitement” for 360 video, there’s been a slight course correction by Google. Enter VR180, a brand new format that cuts 360 video in half, to render only the front 180-degree in stereoscopic 3D. Hardware wise, VR180 cameras from LG, Lenovo, and the Chinese company Yi will follow this winter. If you’re in a hurry, LucidCam have something ready to ship.
Google’s logic seems to be: if VR video is to flourish (strictly speaking, 360 video isn’t even “VR”), cut people some slack. As in, give them something easier, something simpler to manage, something…familiar. In Google’s own words, allow content creators to make anything from “vlogs to makeup tutorials, to music videos and everyday moments”. What about the VR professionals and filmmakers? Nick Bicanic believes VR180 is a solution in search of a problem. Let me add some context to that: VR180 was announced by YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki at Vidcon (the #1 industry conference for YouTubers, not filmmakers). VR180 itself comes hot on the heels of YouTube’s out-of-beta Heatmaps. Coincidence? You tell me.
It’ll be interesting to see how and if VR180 can democratize video-based VR. Quality checks are necessary, with barriers to entry for 3D lower than ever before; both for camera manufacturers (interocular distance between lenses, genlock, vertical disparity) as well as content creators (bad stereoscopy with wobble, etc).
Finally, to play the devil’s advocate, just because you can make 360, doesn’t mean you always should. Our own Joel Gunz makes a very strong case for “limited-view immersive”. Heck, he even gives away five tips for shooting in 270°, a FOV way more expansive compared to VR180.
So. Whatever will be the future of VR
See you in two weeks,
P.S. Breaking News! After weeks of cryptic clues, today morning, RED’s Jim Jannard revealed Hydrogen, a $1200 to $1600 smartphone claimed to be “the world’s first holographic media machine”. Details are sketchy. You are expected to pay now and for a product that will ship Q1 2018. RED will refund if you cancel. For rabid fans of the company, it’s business as usual.

Limbo: A Virtual Experience of Waiting for Asylum
Finding the Future of VR
Just Because You Can Make 360 Cinema, Doesn’t Mean You Always Should
Why VR180 is a Solution in Search of a Problem
Google's New VR Study: Focus on Storyliving, not Storytelling
Netflix’s Interactive Shows Arrive to Put You in Charge of the Story
Real Sounds for VR: Why G'Audio Created its Own Audio Format
Lucid VR's 180° Camera Shipping Just in Time for Google's VR180 Platform
Lenovo made a camera specifically for YouTube's VR180 format
New Startup from Nokia Employees is Trying to Fix VR's Biggest Technical Problem
Variety: Joel de la Fuente and 30 Ninjas CEO Julina Tatlock on the Challenges of VR
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