Veritasium claims spherical videos are a bad idea. I think he misses the point.

Veritasium recently released this youtube clip ( https://youtu.be/SrYZlkyjWsg ) where he makes the claim that the rise of 360 spherical videos is a bad idea. In an attempt to explain the pointlessness of the the media he lists seven of his reasons for why he believe this and challenges his audience to prove him wrong.

Id like to leave my reply to Veritasium for you guys to read, but I would also like to challenge you in the same way. Is 360 video a stupid idea or is it an exciting new media the hasn’t reached it’s potential yet?

360 video is going to be a fad.

The industry has already embraced 360 videos as a part of Virtual Reality. Giants like Facebook, Sony, Oculus, HTC and Samsung are throwing serious amounts of money on this and more and more content is being created. 360 video and VR is not something new, it has been surfacing every now and then since the 70s. The problem why it didn’t stick before is that there were no content creators. Now there are. With channels like Youtube and Facebook, the low cost of the gear, the immersive experience and the constant development makes, it is more plausible to succeed than ever. Most people have a smartphone that is capable of displaying 360 videos and create a window into another world. It is no fad. The very fact that Veritasium has bought a 360 camera and published the video on youtube tells me that he wanted to dabble with this and that it excites him.

Resolution.

Even though your video has a 1920*1080 resolution divided by 360 degrees that is not what the standard of 360 videos is going to be. Even Youtube support higher resolutions than that. 4K is fast becoming the new standard in both smartphones and TVs and is good enough resolution to compete with the quality of traditional non 360 HD resolution video. We are moving fast towards higher resolutions as time passes and 4K is not the limit. There are concept TVs that can display 10K and cameras that can record footage at over 20K. However 4K resolution is maybe more than what’s necessary when a smartphone is 2 inches from your eyes in a VR-HMD.

Now when it comes to bandwith I have to agree with him, it is a problem. But the problem is temporary. Only a couple of weeks ago scientist managed to transfer 186Gbps (gigabits per second), fast enough to transfer two million gigabytes of data or 100,000 full Blu-ray discs in one day. (ref: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-16174972 ). In addition this was achieved by smart programming and it will not require a lot of new infrastructure to upgrade the existing networks we have. So again, technology will solve the problem with bandwith, and in the meantime, 4K is probably not too bad.

Wide angle lenses.

There are a great number of ways to film a 360 video and it does not require wide angle lenses as he explains in his video. Affordable consumer 360 cameras are made that way, yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to use that. In Doublethink we use for instance a camera rig consisting of 12 cameras that point in all directions. The lenses are regular 50mm or 36mm lenses. You can use GoPros for this purpose also and there are plenty of 3D printed rigs to put the cameras in. There are new and improved cameras already released or in the final development stages like Sphericam or Nokia OZO that deliver beautiful footage, autostitched and above 4K resolution, that are not wide angle lenses.

We don’t interpret the world in 360 degrees.

Come on Veritasium… are you for real. Our field of vision is almost 180 degrees in two axis. We can only clearly focus on a small point in front of us, but that doesn’t mean the rest of our vision is not in use. We experience speed by the fast motion in our peripheral vision. If we could only look ahead on a monitor, we would not experience movement as well as we do. Light hits our eyes from different angles in a way that is not possible to replicate in a regular format video. We live in a 3D universe, a 360 degree world, we are born into this and it is the most natural thing that exist for us. 360 video brings us closer to replicating reality and creating total believable alternate realities. 360 degree videos increases immersion, it fools our brains into almost believing we are there, well, at least when experienced in a VR mask.

Its almost like saying audio should only be experienced in mono. So why then would we listen to stereo or surround? Immersive experiences are best when we have the freedom of choice and the freedom to make the experience our own. Your eyes become the camera, isn’t that a wonderful idea? Telling a story in a 360 degree video is challenging, it hasn’t been around for very long so it is new ground. But as time passes and it becomes and art form in itself, I am sure we’ll see great things.

Learning.

When it comes to learning I both agree and disagree with him. Yes, we learn by teachers focusing our attention, by sorting the information for us, but we also learn by chance, by curiosity, by adventure, by stuff that are not scripted, by stuff that just happens, by exploring and by trying things we have no idea how to do. I think it would be a terrible world if we could only learn by teachers and the information that they had sorted for us. What about art, what about music, what about dreams and emotions and all the things in the world that is not planned but immediate, sudden and uncontrollable. Yes advances in science have been made by careful and methodical processes but also by chance and luck.

Will it revolutionize movie making and replace regular video.

No, probably not, it is an addition to regular video with an enormous untapped potential, like TV was an addition to books, and vinyl records and addition to real live concerts. When I think of 360 degree video I think of people that love computer games. Computer games are 360 degrees and have been for a long time. They are very popular because they give you the freedom to move about unrestricted. Granted, they also give you the option to interact with your environment, but maybe 360 is something in between. We’ve only scraped the surface yet and it will be very interesting to see where it goes.

Whats the difference between a nice panoramic shot of a landscape on a regular video and a person moving his smartphone from left to right over the same landscape in a 360 degree video? One has a choice, the other one don’t. I like choices.

Agree, or completely disagree. Leave your comments below.