Virtual Reality in the last few years has become a tool for everyone. This includes HR people creating VR training apps, marketers creating VR sales apps, or trade show teams putting together cool VR experiences. All you need to create 360-degree VR content is a 360 camera, an InstaVR account, and a VR publishing outlet (ie iOS, Android, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Web, etc).
It’s never been easier or more cost-effective to create virtual reality. And yet, there are still a few tips and tricks for keeping costs down that people don’t readily know about. Below, we’ll outline three top tricks for saving money while creating great virtual reality experiences.
As always, if you have any questions, reach out to our Sales or Customer Success teams.
Rent Your 360-Degree Camera (or Buy a Used One!)
You don’t have to break the bank when securing a 360-degree camera for your projects. First of all, there are some relatively new Prosumer cameras, like the Insta360 One X, that cost under $500. With those cameras, you’ll get a lot better resolution and user experience than you would have with a camera at that price point even three years ago. For a first project or Proof of Concept app, the Insta360 One X is probably good enough for you.
But if you want to shoot like the Pros do — meaning the VR agencies that use InstaVR — you’ll want an Insta360 Pro, or better yet, an Insta360 Pro v2. The former you can buy at a very reasonable price used. Why? Because many professionals have upgraded to the newer version.
Used Insta360 Pros can be found on eBay or the Insta360 Pro Facebook group. You want to make sure to obviously buy from a reputable source, and understand you may only be using the camera for 2-3 years. But at the price point for a used Insta360 Pro, it’s still worth it.
For the Insta360 Pro v2, you may also want to consider renting if you’re only making a few VR apps a year. That’s what our client Chili’s Grill & Bar did. This is a particularly good deal if you’re creating one-off sales or trade show apps, as you don’t need continuous access to the camera. Where can you rent VR cameras? If you’re an InstaVR Enterprise customer, you can do so from us. Or there are other sites out there, like this one.
The key is to look at total cost of ownership. The lifecycle of VR tech seems to be 2-3 years. Companies that bought Gear VR headsets in 2016 were replacing them with Oculus Gos in 2018. Oculus Rift owners are now replacing those tethered headsets with standalone Oculus Quests. So if you’re only making apps for infrequent events, or anticipate investing heavily in VR during 2020, you can get away with buying used or renting hardware now.
Do the Filming Yourself, But Use an Agency or Contractor for Graphics
Filming in 360 is actually easier than regular filming. Why? You don’t have to think about coverage and often only have to do one take. Yes, you do have to consider camera placement and what’s going on at all angles. But many companies we’ve spoken to have been relieved to find out how easy 360 photos and videos are to capture.
That being said, not every company has the right people for creating graphics. If you’re doing a VR training app, for example, you still need images (either .jpg or .png) for icons, logos, splash screens, etc.
You’ll still want to do the filming yourself, and the app creation in InstaVR. But for short-term graphics needs, it’s often better to hire a contractor.
Plan Ahead – Storyboard, Do a Walkthrough, and Test All of Your Equipment
VR/360-degree media is perfect for capturing unique or dangerous or far away (distance-wise) experiences. That’s why, for instance, it’s the perfect technology for employee training in certain industries. Filming those unique/dangerous/far away experiences is not always easy though. Or cheap.
Because of that, you want to spend a lot of time planning your filming and testing. For example, a great VR simulation might be what do in case of an emergency at a warehouse, like a fire. To actually film or recreate what would happen in that scenario is not easy. You might have only opportunity to capture it on a 360 camera.
For that reason, you want to make sure you…
A.) Storyboard – Know ahead of time exactly where you want the camera, what happens in the scene, and how each person is going to react to what is going on in the scene.
B.) Do a Walkthrough – Before ever filming, walk through exactly what’s going to happen, second by second. Filming a same scene multiple times may be expensive or impossible. Simulating the filming prior to doing it makes sure everyone is on the same page.
C.) Test all equipment thoroughly – This means your cameras, your microphones, your monopods, etc. Great video with no audio is worthless. Great audio but a video issue is also bad. Make sure to have plenty of SD cards and extra batteries, if in fact those are needed for the camera you’re using. One of the worst feelings is getting ready to shoot and finding out a piece of equipment is “not working” for whatever reason. This could set you back hours, days, and a whole lot of money.
Creating VR doesn’t have to be expensive. Besides using an easy-to-use VR publishing and distribution solution like InstaVR, there’s many other tricks you can do to keep the costs down. So think about how you can save money equipment-wise (renting cameras, buying used headsets, etc), authoring-wise (outsourcing some work like graphic design), and filming (plan ahead, test, and do a walkthrough).
VR has the potential to generate massive ROI. VR for Training can lower your costs, VR for Marketing can increase your sales, VR for Hiring can you help you land the right candidate. All of those use cases can be achieved with an investment under $10K all-in. Don’t let the fear of runaway costs keep you from creating VR!