Is 360 Video Just a Passing Fad?

If you want to be successful online, regardless of how you choose to define success, you need to be willing to do more than the bare minimum. Blogging is great, but you should also have great photos to go with your blog posts. You want a strong social media presence, you want to interact with your readers, and you should seriously consider having a video component too.

You’ve heard all of this before. And even if you don’t decide on shooting and posting a vlog on a regular basis, video is becoming an increasingly important component of the overall content mix. That’s why you see videos so frequently from John too. This started way back with the Dot Com Pho videos over ten years ago!

Way back then, the videos we posted were mostly only 640 x 480 pixels in resolution. Then, we upgraded to 720p HD and 1080p FHD. You’ll find more and more 4K content all the time too, and some YouTubers (like MKBHD) even shoot in 8K resolution. But it’s not just about resolution and video quality either; it’s about format. And you’ve likely noticed that 360-degree video is becoming more and more popular by the day.

The Appeal of 360 Degree Video

Just like we’ve seen with live video, as is the case with Facebook Live and YouTube Live, 360 video is really taking off as a way to set yourself apart from the crowd. No, you won’t be the only one doing 360 video, but 360 video is certainly far less common than more conventional 16:9 widescreen video.

But why should you bother at all?

Embedded above is a sample clip I shot using the Wunder360 S1, a relatively affordable 360-degree camera that can be used to shoot 360 photos and video content. I didn’t edit it with any specialized software or anything; it’s just a sample of what the camera can do.

The main appeal of 360 video is two-fold. First, it provides an entirely new kind of perspective for your audience. They can really feel like they’re right there with you, which makes 360 video incredible for covering events or when you’re at a unique location.

Second, it is much more engaging. The user can pan and scroll their way around the spherical view. This added layer of engagement really helps them connect with your content and not just let it play in the background. And you want to forge those strong connections with your audience.

Buying a 360 Camera

A common misconception that people have is that a 360 camera can be prohibitively expensive if you want to have decent quality. As with just about every other type of technology, prices for 360 cameras have continued to plummet into much more affordable ranges.

Some of the most popular models today include the Samsung Gear 360, the Ricoh Theta V, and the GoPro Fusion. They come in slightly different form factors and have different features, but they all operate in fundamentally the same way with two cameras, each of which capturing a near 180-degree field of vision.

What’s really important to keep in mind here is that while 1920 x 1080 pixels (FHD 1080p) might sound perfectly adequate for traditional 16:9 video, it’s likely not good enough for 360 video as those pixels need to cover a much wider field of view.

The GoPro Fusion (about $500), for instance, overcaptures with 5.2K sphereical videos. The Gear 360, which can actually be found for well less than $100, captures 4K video and 15MP stills. The Theta V (about $400) does 4K too.

Where to Post 360 Video

Unsurprisingly, two of the best places where you can publish 360-degree video are also two of the best places where you can publish more traditional video too: Facebook and YouTube.

In the case of Facebook, if the 360 video was recorded on a 360 camera, you can just upload it like any other video and it’ll detect the 360 metadata. The same is true with YouTube. With Facebook, you can then set the initial orientation with a quick edit too.

What’s great is that even if you don’t post the 360 video as a 360 video (or in addition to it if you’d like), the 360 video footage can be integrated into more standard footage with the right software. Have you ever seen those “tiny planet” videos? That’s how you do them.

If your 360 camera doesn’t come with the right software, I find that the Insta360 Studio editing software seems to work with most formats. Many popular video editing programs, like Adobe Premiere Pro, can handle 360 video as well.

Have you started shooting and sharing 360 videos and photos? Why or why not? It’s no fad.