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Youtube explore the 3rd dimension with 360 degree live streaming.

06 May 2016

Like peanut butter and chocolate, a barbecue and a beer, or bacon with, well anything, 360 degree videos and live streaming is a combination that just makes sense.

Youtube debuted this modern partnership during the second weekend of American music and arts festival Coachella, live streaming a selection of acts that also featured 360 degree video for the first time.

This pioneering step towards the future of media was certainly intriguing.

It was also slightly underwhelming.

The first ever act on Youtube Live 360 saw an intimate performance from American singer/songwriter Dawn, with the camera placed centrally on a four-way stage featuring the singer and her glowstick-wielding dance crew.

While an impressive debut of the feature, the novelty soon wore off.

There are a few reasons for this rather undercooked dish.

Current limitations make it very expensive and resource intensive to stream in full HD, with high audio quality, not to mention catering for viewers with limited broadband capabilities.

There’s also a distinct ‘behind the scenes’ vibe to these 360 streams, considering the user can choose to point the camera wherever they want.

Great if you love to see the process behind something.

But no amount of editing is going to stop a viewer from pointing the camera straight up and seeing the parts of the stage held together with gaffa tape, or spotting one of the sound engineers in the back falling over in a drunken stupor.


But let’s not forget that this is just the first step.

While we’re probably quite far off from fully polished, edited videos in 3D, thanks to the extra work required to create a fully immersive set to literally cover all angles, there are plenty of applications for this format.

One option is to avoid the need for a set in the first place.

Real world experiences like a live performance, sports fixture or a tour round a famous landmark lend themselves to the technology currently available, and since the environment is already there ready-made, you save money on MDF and gaffa tape creating the environment yourself.

For brands, this opens up a whole new audience for live events and experiential advertising.

No longer will you just hear about an amazing street takeover or beer-dispensing billboard from your friends.

Now, you’ll be able to experience it yourself, whether you live in London, Lincolnshire, or a remote island in the Seychelles.

Provided that island has decent broadband of course.


Another missed beat from the Coachella live streams was that the camera remained, for the most part, fixed in one place.

Once the novelty of studying the finer details of a stack of Marshall Amps wears off, it feels a little bit static, and you settle into watching one particular angle anyway.

You add some movement, however, and you have yourself a recipe for a much more immersive adventure.

Take viewers on a tour through an old Scottish castle, or let them experience a swim with dolphins, without the hassle of squeezing on a wet suit.

Aerial fly-bys of stunning landscapes are also within our reach, thanks to drone technology.

Rollercoasters and thrill rides have an opportunity to create teaser videos of their latest rides.

Alton Tower’s new full virtual reality coaster, Galactica, shows they’re not afraid of new tech.

Sure, riding an Alton Towers coaster even when you can see where you’re going may be a scary prospect these days, but the concept is still undeniably cool.


Looking past poor audio quality, lack of full HD, and fixed camera positions, the doors that 360 livestreaming opens up are exciting, not just for brands, but for media as a whole.

In fact, this pioneering step from Youtube has managed to conjure one of those rare moments of technological appreciation, quite elusive in the fast paced modern world where we tend to take our convenient gadgets for granted.

20 years ago, calling your friend on a mobile from anywhere was still a novelty, as was the internet, still requiring a modem that channelled noises from the gates of hell.

Now, we have videos we can spin around, and pick our own view, and we have all this live. Live!

The ability for brands to use this budding new format to bring incredible live experiences to a larger audience than ever before is just the start of a very exciting future for advertising and entertainment.

That is, as long as we can all agree as an industry not to ruin it and go full blown Minority Report ‘ads beamed to your eyeballs’ crazy.

This is why we can’t have nice things.


Strawman Says

360 Live Streaming could be the new gold rush of video content: new and exciting possibilities, but an uncharted wild west that will likely claim a few victims as brands figure out how to strike it big.