In case you did not know, virtual reality is a big deal. Thanks to Facebook's recent announcement that you can now upload and play 360-degree videos (they call it "spherical content") to your feed natively, it is now much easier to share your virtual reality videos to the average Facebook-using consumer, which is everyone — even my mom. Read below to learn the significance of this announcement, as well as the capabilities and limitations of Facebook's new player.
Things to note about the new Facebook 360 video player:
- It works in the Facebook mobile app. When you see the 360 videos appear in your feed, you can click "play" and then move your phone to look around — nice and seamless. Although the frame rate is a bit choppy and not as smooth as the mobile player for LITTLSTAR, it's still a great step, especially since it didn't work on iOS at all when they first released their player a few months back.
Updated 11/12/15: Starting today, people around the world are now able to watch 360 videos on their iOS devices. As with Android devices, you can explore a 360 video on iPhone by dragging around the video with your finger to see different angles, or simply by turning your device while a 360 video is playing. Additionally, people using a Samsung Gear VR and supported Samsung smartphone can easily play 360 videos from News Feed in their Gear VR.
- It is a bit clunky and doesn't work on every web browser. For example, I believe if you are using Mac's Safari browser to try to view a Facebook 360 video, it won't work, but I am sure they will fix it soon.
- This is a huge deal for brands. As a virtual reality filmmaker myself, I've had lots of my ad agency and brand clients get very excited when they found out they could place the 360 video we created for them on their YouTube (they also have 360 video functionality that works similarly, but only plays on their mobile app or Chrome browsers — womp womp) accounts and natively on their Facebook accounts so they could seamlessly share with their followers. I'll note that since Youtube and Facebook 360 players are still limited in some browsers, I use LITTLSTAR for embedding on all websites other than the aforementioned social media sites. Here is an example on my personal website: National Geographic - Virtual Yellowstone.
- I think the news that major social media sites like Youtube and Facebook now offer 360 capabilities that work with a page's preexisting subscribers is great for VR filmmakers because brands will feel more and more comfortable to hire us, as it is easier for more consumers to experience the content.
- You cannot embed Facebook video on other sites, unlike Youtube and Littlstar. You can only see the videos you upload to Facebook on the Facebook site and apps.
- Want to upload your own 360 video or photo to Facebook? Go to your feed and click to upload a photo or video like you would normally. As it is uploading, click the "advanced" tab above and you'll see a check box option to indicate that it is a 360 video. Click that box, obviously, and Facebook will know to process the video appropriately as such.
Any VR questions? Ask below!