Google Launches 180-Degree VR Format

google-vr180By Adi Robertson It seems, for at least the time being, that technology can move forward by taking a step back. Who knew that something like this was possible? Well, it's not that crazy of an idea, just an alteration of a basic principle. By now everyone has been introduced to 360 VR videos and entertainment, but Google is looking to cut that in half by launching a 180-degree video format called VR180. Technology has always moved faster than the artists using the devices needed, but the gap with 360-degree video is much shorter. Google is working with companies like Yi, Lenovo, and LG to produce these cameras, some of which have already created 360-degree cameras of their own. The idea is similar to VR360, but by cutting the view this allows filmmakers and crew to avoid having to hide in their shots to move ahead with production. Perhaps this innovation might allow creators of 360-degree video the ability to produce similar looking material, but without the hassles of that type of productions. By taking this step back, this might open up different ideas for technological advances with VR-type entertainment.

As the name suggests, VR180 videos don’t stretch all the way around a viewer in VR. They’re supposed to be immersive if you’re facing forward, but you can’t turn and glance behind you. Outside VR, they’ll appear as traditional flat videos, but you can watch them in 3D virtual reality through the YouTube app with a Google Cardboard, Daydream, or PlayStation VR headset.

Creators can shoot the videos using any camera with a VR180 certification. Google’s Daydream team is working with the three companies above, and the first of their VR180 products are supposed to launch this winter, at roughly the same price as a point-and-shoot camera.

So far, the only image we’ve seen is the one above, a line drawing of Lenovo’s design. It appears to have two wide-angle lenses that can shoot stereoscopic video, and it’s a far cry from the expensive alien orbs that we often see in VR film shoots.

Moving toward 180-degree instead of full 360-degree video has a few big advantages. It doesn’t need the same time-consuming (and often expensive) stitching as videos made with, say, Google’s 360-degree Jump system. You can put a person behind the camera without them appearing in the shot — in full 360-degree videos, filmmakers often literally hide behind objects during a scene. And it could push down file sizes, so viewers are less likely to get annoying buffering gaps while they’re streaming...[continue reading]

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