At the end of the 20th century, we watched with amazement as digital photography technology took off and transformed the ways we captured everyday and special moments. Eventually, film phased out as digital cameras become more sophisticated.
As part of a natural progression, video also began to transform. No longer did we have to tote along bulky and heavy cameras. Instead, we could use our regular cameras and, later, phones, to shoot quality video. The internet allowed us to interact "in person" using live video images via communication tools and apps.
Video technology is now in the midst of another transformation as it rises to the next level with 360° views becoming a standardized method of capturing footage.
360° video is a video captured with an omnidirectional camera that allows for viewers to move the view and see in all directions. They're also known as immersive videos or spherical videos.
If you're wondering what 360° is and how it works, we can help get you up to speed. In a nutshell, the goal is to capture light in all directions, pulling it into a focal point while simultaneously showing a full sphere. Users see a scene from every angle, much like they would if they were standing right in it.
The idea has been around for a while. For example, Disney helped to pioneer the concept by integrating the effects into many of its attractions back in the 20th century. However, over time, the concept has perfected itself and can now be more widely used.
It's no surprise 360° video is taking off because it takes us from a "flat" perspective of our world by immersing us into the full experience. However, capturing 360° video is not quite as straightforward as shooting traditional video, you'll need the right equipment and know-how.
Some innovative cameras use smart technology that can pick up sounds and turn the lens to that focal point. For example, during conference calls when a person speaks, the Meeting Owl picks up the voice and automatically knows where and when to spotlight its subject.
Today, you don't have to travel to Disney to get the 360° experience. Popular online platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, support the tech, allowing us to see these incredible videos. Here are some great examples of 360° videos.
1. National Geographic covers the issue of trash cleanup of Mount Everest, highlighting the need for environmental responsibility on this breathtaking peak.
2. Let out your inner daredevil with this thrilling ride down a bobsled track.
3. Become an astronaut and learn about the future of space flight!
4. Experience your own private concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra while riding the London Eye.
5. For those that aren't fans of horror movies; beware. This video brings all of IT: Chapter Two to life.
6. Follow this videographer as he scales the walls of El Capitan at Yosemite. At points of the footage, you might feel you don't want to look down!
7. Inspired by "2001: A Space Odyssey," this video gives off a definite psychedelic and futuristic feel.
8. If you've ever wanted to see the Great Wall of China, this footage allows you to take a breathtaking arial tour.
9. This 360° time-lapse video taken during a lunar eclipse in Alaska as the Northern Lights simultaneously flicker, letting you see up close what most people never experience in a lifetime.
10. Ever wanted to have a court-side view at an NBA court? Watch on the sidelines as Stephen Curry makes shot after shot.
11. This video taken at the Broadway show immerses the viewer in the magical world of "Aladdin" as he meets the "Genie."
12. Take a ride on a thrilling rollercoaster in Dubai as this videographer brings this immersive video to the web.
13. View Australia's Great Barrier Reef from a helicopter and see views that will amaze you.
14. Check out this footage shot while on a waterslide and experience it as if you were there, splashes included.
15. Join explorers as they enter the Great Pyramid of Giza and explore its chambers.
Looking for more? Other honorable incredible 360° video mentions from include Blue Angels (2015), Mega Coaster (2016), Lions from National Geographic (2017) and Underwater National Park from National Geographic (2017).
This technology is here to stay, and with good reason. There are numerous ways 360° can be used in our everyday lives. For instance, think about the aforementioned video conference calls. As you know, these meetings are often awkward and clunky, leaving participants feeling isolated or confused as they try to interact. With today's technology, 360° video can be used, giving all participants panoramic views, making them feel as if they are right in the conference room. You can't get any closer than that!