You’ve probably seen a couple of Facebook’s mesmerizing 360-degree videos already. Most are great, but some are downright incredible. Here are 10 of our favorites.
Facebook 360 videos were first unveiled toward the end of 2015. These immersive videos allow the viewer to watch the scene from any angle.
If you’re watching on the web, control the angle with your mouse. If you’re watching on Android or iOS, point your phone where you want to look (or turn your phone into a virtual reality headset). And if you’re using Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR, well, you’re in the middle of the action.
Briefly put, 360-degree videos are recorded with a number of cameras facing in different directions. These recordings are then stitched together into a single video.
This isn’t just reserved for large media companies, either. We’ve written before about how to record your own 360-degree videos to upload to Facebook. This can be done using a camera like the 360Fly, or building your own GoPro rig. To add to that list, Facebook will soon be launching its own open-source 360-degree video camera called the Surround 360 (above). The design blueprint and stitching code will be available on GitHub later this year.
To keep an eye on new 360-degree videos being published on Facebook, follow the Facebook360 page. If you just want to see the creme de la creme of those videos though, keep reading.
The 90+ seconds of Game of Thrones’ opening credits is an iconic part of this cult TV series. And just as you thought it was getting completely overplayed, you’re able to fly through those intricate animations as if you were on the back of one of the Khaleesi’s dragons.
You probably thought the only glimpse you’d get inside this secretive nation and its clamped-down technology would be on the news. Now you can look actually around during an intense, surreal state celebration.
There are plenty of things you can do to indulge your inner Star Wars geek. Another thing to add to that list is speeding across the Jakku desert on Rey’s Speeder, in all its 360-degree glory.
If you’re unable to pluck up the courage to swim with actual sharks, this is the next best thing. This underwater tour takes you up close and personal with these incredible creatures without so much as getting your pinkie finger wet.
The Blue Angels are the US Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. For the first time you can fly with them among complete 360-degree views, seeing what the pilot sees during those intense maneuvers.
This video rapidly went viral after National Geographic first released it on Facebook. The colossal Victoria Falls marks the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and are one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders on the planet. I’ll bet you never imagined seeing them like this before.
A scene usually reserved for cozy Christmas movies, Times Square under a blanket of snow is a sight many would love to see in real life. Now you can be transported among the skyscrapers to experience this Winter wonderland first-hand (well, almost).
Hellblade is a game very well known for its stunning visual effects. This scene from the next version of the game has been converted into a 360-degree experience. If watched while wearing a VR headset, it showcases what we can expect from games over the next few years.
Seeing the glaciers of Antarctica is a common item on many bucket lists. But to witness this landscape (while it’s still in tact) usually costs tens of thousands of dollars. Alternatively, this is the closest you can get. Safe from frostbite, you can tour this majestic landscape from the comfort of your sofa.
Looking out of your window while on a flight is one thing. Accompanying a weather balloon into the stratosphere is another thing entirely. This beautiful 360-degree video will leave you awe-struck as you see the earth in a completely new light.
This is Only The Beginning
These videos are only the first stage in a world where 360-degree videos will become commonplace. It’s on the back of these kind videos that many virtual reality (VR) experiences will be built. This is why so many companies (including Disney) are investing huge sums into their development.
After watching these videos on your phone, you may think they’re just an entertaining fad. A cool use of technology. But it’s when you experience videos like these while donning a VR headset that you start to get a glimpse at their potential. To see what I mean, look at how these elders react to Oculus Rift. To one person, it even brings a tear to their eye.
There’s still a way to go, though. Google Street View has been offering us 360-degree photos for many years already. Now we’re just starting to see advancement in 360-degree videos. The next stage is to enable viewers to not just watch these videos, but to actually explore the terrain within them. That’s a whole new ballgame, but one which we’ll probably see sooner than you think.
Which of the above 360-degree videos impressed you the most? And which others have you seen that should have been included in this list?
Image Credit: holding smartphone by jannoon028 via Shutterstock