There’s been a lot of talk recently about Virtual Reality, or VR, with its ability to transport people to completely unique worlds—whether a gaming terrain or a journey along neurons in the brain. Another exciting technology/technique that offers many of the same benefits of VR is 360° video.
Leveraging 360° video that captures a view in every direction and turning it into a VR experience allows for very powerful storytelling that invites viewers to immerse themselves into the story. While true computer-generated VR has the capability to offer more fully interactive experiences, 360° video captures a view in every direction accompanied by sound and allows for powerful storytelling that enables you to gain a deep level of empathy for a subject.
With the use of 360° video, a group of high school photography students amazed thousands at Photoville—a Brooklyn-based photography event that features 70+ exhibits and attracts upwards of 83,000 visitors. The students are part of NYC Salt—a nonprofit organization that teaches high school students about the art and craft of photography. NYC Salt runs on donations, so Photoville not only offers opportunities to showcase the work of the students, but also a way to capture the attention of potential donors.
With the help of donated 360° equipment and a team consisting of a professional videographer, creative director, and producer, the NYC Salt photographers put together 4 dynamic experiences featured as an extensive 360° video. In each sequence the photographer would stand in the spot where the image was created and narrate the story behind their photo series.
One photographer invites the viewer into the kitchen of his family home to see his grandmother as she sits at the table, smoking her cigar while recounting her first days in New York City. Another young photographer introduces the viewer to the city-based playground where he grew up playing basketball with friends, that has been the central gathering point of the community. A third story takes the viewer to a rooftop to visit with the photographer’s friends who are happily perched on a ledge, swinging their legs while chatting. The fourth story takes us to a beautiful patch of woods with railroad tracks running through as the photographer tells us why he brought a city mouse all the way out to the woods to view the incredible scenery.
As part of attracting potential donors and to encourage photo purchases, each storytelling piece invites the viewer to get to know the student photographers of NYC Salt in a way no ordinary still photo could. The viewer is transported to different environments—places they may otherwise never see or experience. Hearing the voices and standing with the photographers while looking around, the viewer experiences what is called a “presence.”
At Photoville, the photo exhibits are built from repurposed shipping containers, display space is extremely limited, and to mount a video monitor would mean occupying precious real estate otherwise used for photography. Additionally, the ambient volume of attendees would make it rather difficult for the viewer to hear the voice-overs in the video. Most importantly, it is much easier for a viewer to walk away from a cold medium such as video if they are not actively engaged.
Using a head-mounted display (HMD) system such as an Oculus Rift to watch a 360° piece not only saves plenty of space but also enables the viewer to hear the story through the use of headphones. Additionally, 360° video invites the viewer to actively look around and explore the environment during the story—creating intense user retention.
While the content is best experienced using an HMD, YouTube’s powerful 360° platform makes it possible for this piece to be accessed by a much wider audience through the use of an easily obtained Google Cardboard kit. Even if the viewer does not choose to use the Cardboard setup, they can still enjoy the video by physically moving their mobile device to simulate the feeling of looking around the environment and exploring the landscape in which the video was shot. This view is often referred to as the “magic window.” This same view can also be enjoyed from within the desktop display—in this scenario by using the mouse to navigate the environment.
The NYC Salt 360° project created a vibrant, immersive experience that invited users to get to know the young photographers who benefit from this program. Potential donors and photo-buyers were offered the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with the photographer and their photography. Not only was the project a hit at Photoville, the video is also viewable on YouTube.
Leveraging 360° video to tell a story not only allows for a range of approaches, the final asset is reusable across multiple channels and opportunities, such as conventions. 360° video is conducive to countless types of subject matter—an MOA, KOL commentary, or even patient experiences are all excellent examples of possible stories. Most importantly, video production is the most scalable in terms of budget and timing while achieving maximum impact.
JUICE Pharma Worldwide and our B12 Studio are very proud to provide NYC Salt with studio space for classes and student productions, with additional opportunities to assist on actual shoots.