Differences between VR and 360 Video

We’ve decided to start taking your questions, and seeing if we can clear up any confusion that might be out there regarding terms in the virtual world. And we’re kicking off with this one- what’s the difference between 360 video and virtual reality (VR)? 

There are so many different terms flying around, it can be hard to keep track of what’s what. Two terms that often get slightly misunderstood are virtual reality and 360 video. Whilst there are similarities between the two, they are separate entities and not to be confused with each other. 

In a virtual reality (VR) experience using a VR headset, the participant becomes completely immersed in a different virtual world. You have full mobility in the digital world, depending on the type of experience you would be able to run, skip, jump, interact and move objects around. The way that an experience or the story unfolds is in the hands of the user. So that’s VR.

360 videos are live action, where reality is filmed as it is seen at that precise moment. 360 videos (perhaps unsurprisingly!) use 360 cameras. These cameras are omnidirectional cameras with a 360-degree field of view so that it captures just about everything around the sphere. These are needed when large visual fields need to be covered, such as shooting panoramas. For 360 camera and video to work, the device you are viewing images and videos on has to be 360 compatible. The way that the video progresses is in the hands of the film maker. As a viewer, you can’t influence where the video takes you. You may still be able to look around, but only to the extent that the filmmaker did and only from their perspective.

360 cameras seem to be a growing market at the moment, and certainly there’s a lot of choice out there if this appeals to you! The technology is getting better and better, whilst becoming more affordable so it’s a great time to experiment with it.

Here’s our mini guide to the 5 differences between VR and 360 video:

  1. 360 video is live action. VR is the creation of a digital environment.
  2. In a VR world you can be fully mobile – watching 360 video, you have a 360 view from the cameras perspective but limited to the filmmakers camera movements.
  3. The timelines work differently – watching 360 video progresses on a timeline made by the camera’s movements. In VR, you can progress through an experience or a series of events, or go off and explore.
  4. 360 video can be accessed via any compatible device, but for a fully immersive VR experience you need to be in a headset, which might be tethered or mobile.
  5. The difference between 360 video and VR is also felt in the way the ‘story’ works. In VR, the film maker is working to capture your attention and interest, and trying to motivate the user to go out and travel through the events in the story. In 360 film, the filmmaker controls the physical location of camera and has to work to capture the attention of the viewer to direct the story.

So in summary, here are our final thoughts: 360 videos are great. Virtual reality is great! Here at Circus, we often pair the two together, to give our clients the best, most exciting virtual experiences. Do you have any virtual reality questions you need answering? Contact us today. We’d love to hear them. 

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