What I’m Learning about 360 Video and Virtual Reality

I’ve been obsessed with Virtual Reality (VR) since the first time I put on Oculus Rift VR Goggles for the first time about 2 years ago. Shortly after that Google released Google Cardboard and it seemed that VR would be here before we knew it. Adoption and development of this technology has been slower than I anticipated, but it makes sense as the ability to create VR experiences has been so challenging. More than ever I believe VR is going to be HUUUUGE (said with Donald Trump voice)! I just think it’s going to take longer than I anticipated.

I’ve purchased and given away several Google cardboard devices over the past 2 years and made my first big purchase with a 360 video camera in January. I bought the Insta360 nano from Amazon for 2 primary reasons:

  1. Simplicity – I love how it connected to my iPhone and could be uploaded easily from my mobile device and directly to Facebook or YouTube
  2. Affordability – not only was the device easy to use, it was also one of the least expensive devices on the market

Since buying the device I’ve helped Insta360 in their sales as I’ve had several friends see my pictures and videos asking where they can get one of these cool cameras. The quality of these videos has been much better than I expected and the simplicity to upload the videos to Facebook and YouTube has been even easier than I anticipated. I’ve yet to try and edit any videos, but the capturing and distributing has been awesome! The reception to the videos has also been pretty great.

Here are a few of the key things that I’m learning about this new technology:

  • 360 Video is Captivating – the wow factor of these videos has been incredible, especially when people view them through VR googles.
  • Anyone is now able to create 360 videos – as easy as it is to create 360 videos today, it will be even easier tomorrow.
  • Not All Video Should be shot in 360 – while it’s interesting for many experiences, it is not optimal for many if not most video experiences. With 360 video it is harder to control the focal point when you are trying to tell a story.
  • Shorter Videos are best for 360 viewing experiences – currently the VR viewing experiences can be nauseating for most and a long experience is not ideal. I think this will change for experiences like sporting events and even church services, but like mobile video, I’m finding that shorter is better when it comes to VR videos.

All in all, I am more excited than ever about this medium and think ministries need to be paying attention to this space. I believe in the next couple of years many churches will offer a VR worship experience both On-Demand and Live. Beyond worship experiences I believe VR will be an incredible opportunity for Bible reading, Holy Land tours, gospel presentations and more. It’s a consuming media engagement experience with seemingly limitless opportunities for creativity and innovation.