Summary of Steps: 1. How to begin (i.e. What is the goal of your 360/VR experience?) 2. How to film or create your 360 media 3. How to author in the InstaVR platform 4. How to publish for your trade show, conference, or corporate event 5. What’s next?
1. How to begin? (i.e. What is the goal of your 360/VR experience?)
One of the most common use cases of InstaVR is for creating VR or 360 applications for special events — such as trade shows, conferences, and corporate events. When was the last time you remembered what was on the flier a company gave you at one of these types of events? But if I asked you to recall what you saw in the company’s Gear VR or HTC Vive headset, your memory becomes much clearer!
That’s because VR connects on an emotional and intellectual level with people. It engages multiple senses, and coupled with interactivity, provides both an amazing experience, and an educational opportunity. The ROI on VR at events is extremely high.
The very first step in creating an app of this type is to ask yourself an important question: what do I want the attendee to take away from the VR experience? That really dictates all other facets of the app — what media to use, how the narrative will play out, how long the experience should be, how to distribute the app, etc.
Do you want the app to show off a particular feature of the company (a product, the employees, the corporate campus)? Do you want it to entertain or educate? How many people do you expect to use it and how much time can they dedicate to viewing your VR? The answers to these questions will lay the foundation for how you will create and disseminate your VR work.
How do you want someone who has seen your VR event experience to describe it? Work your way backwards from that goal into determining how you create the VR app.
2. How to film or create your 360 media
There are two main types of 360 media: camera-generated and computer-generated. If you want your app to be based on actual reality, you can purchase or rent a 360 camera, or contract out to a digital agency that has access to one. If you want to fabricate an entirely virtual world, you’ll have to utilize someone who has experience with common computer graphics software platforms, like Adobe Photoshop, or Autodesk 3ds Max/Maya.
Let’s take a look at each of the options a little more in advance:
- Purchase a 360 camera – If doing this approach, you’ll have a lot of options. There are popular lower-end cameras like Ricoh Theta, Samsung Gear 360, Nikon KeyMission, and many many more. Or you can opt for mid level to more expensive camera, like the Vuze or Insta360 Pro, where the image or video quality will be better, the the cost will be more. Only if you’re very serious about VR should you consider the premium event-level cameras, like the Nokia Ozo.
- Rent a 360 camera rig – If you want ultra high quality 360 media, but that will mainly be used for an important one-off event, it might be worth considering renting something like a GoPro Rig. The image or video quality will be far superior to the consumer grade 360 cameras. And the cost of renting is a lot less than owning, if you’re not sure you’ll be investing in VR long-term. The problem is you really limit your time frame for media capture if you’re renting, which for some companies can be a major issue.
- Hiring an Outside Agency – InstaVR works with a lot of clients who are digital production experts, either branching out into VR production or solely focused on it. A few years ago, you might have had to do a little research to find a local company that specializes in 360 media. Now, assuming you’re close to a major city, you’ll have many to choose from. Or feel to contact InstaVR if you’d like us to recommend a company we’ve worked with before.
- Computer Generated 360 / 3D media – An immersive virtual world built completely on a computer can be very powerful. For some industries, like Architecture/Engineering/Construction, it’s the main form of media being uploaded to our platform. But even if you’re not in a CGI-heavy industry, you may consider using something like Autodesk Maya or 3ds Max to create a virtual environment which will be awe-inspiring and memorable for your VR audience.
There are many 360 cameras on the market. At a minimum, you’re going to want to use a camera with 4K video, such as these pictured Nikon KeyMission 360s.
3. How to author in the InstaVR platform
Authoring a VR application on InstaVR is a simple drag-and-drop process. We’ve put together a handy guide specifically for the Ricoh Theta -> InstaVR app creation process here.
Below we’ll focus on a few considerations specific to trade show, conference, and corporate event VR apps:
- How long do you want your VR experience to be? This is actually a pretty nuanced question. If people are stopping by your booth, how long would you expect them to don a headset before they take it off? If you’re doing this for an event, how much information do you have to convey? App size limitations also differ by headset (ranging from a low-end of 2 GB if the app is distributed through Google Play to unlimited length if you do streaming or use the expanded SD memory on a Gear VR). When authoring, you’ll definitely want to keep tabs that you don’t make your VR application excessively long.
- Image-based or video? Or both? Some of this may depend on the 360 camera you’re planning to use. Generally speaking, while the trend has been to focus more and more on 360 video in the last 12 months, image-based 360 still offers more clarity. Both work great — it’s just a matter of determining which medium is best suited to highlight your company.
- Passive VR or Active VR? Depending on if you upload 360 images or video, and if you add Hotspots or not, your entire VR application can be either passive or active. Active involves more engagement and is more memorable. But it also may necessitate more time, as users take their time to navigate scene-to-scene and engage with hotspots. So if you need high turnover of booth attendees, you might consider the more passive route to confine the VR experience to a set period of time. But if you’re expecting a smaller number of people, you can create an application with a lot of interaction that will be potentially more engaging for your visitors.
Adding Hotspots makes your VR more interactive. But it also likely adds time to the per user. So depending on number of users you’re expecting, and number of headsets you have, you may be more or less inclined to create active VR.
4. How to publish for your trade show, conference, or corporate event
What headsets you use, and how you distribute to them from InstaVR, is driven by many factors: budget, expected audience size, location, number of workers you’ll have, etc.
Let’s take a look at what type of events each of the main VR headsets are appropriate for:
- iOS/Android/Google Cardboard If you have a lot of people at your event. If you’re expecting high turnover in people using the headset. If you have a relatively tight budget. If you want to give your VR users a “take home”, such as a branded Google Cardboard or the ability to download your app to their own phone via a QR code.
- Gear VR / Google Daydream If you have a bit more budget, and want your users to have a more immersive enjoyable experience, without having them tethered to a computer. If you’re doing long-form VR (2+ minutes). If you have travel to the event, or have a small event space, where packing up an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift would be cumbersome. If you have a TV too, and want to use a Chromecast to mirror the VR to a TV.
- HTC Vive / Oculus Rift If you already own these VR platforms, and want to show off ultra high quality 360 media. If you want your users to engage the VR using a hand controller, in lieu of gaze-based.
- WebVR – If you’re bringing your laptop, and your potential audience won’t have time to put on a VR headset. If you want to give out a URL to a large group of people, for them to pull up on their smartphones and put into a headset. If you’re presenting to an audience using a projector.
There are many different VR headsets. With InstaVR, since you’re not charged per app, it may make sense to publish to multiple platforms for a single event.
5. What’s next?
After the trade show or event is over, that doesn’t mean your VR should become dormant. First off, you can distribute widely the VR you featured at the event through iTunes, Google Play, and WebVR. If you print out a QR code, users can even download an inhouse version of the app to run locally on their mobile device.
You’ll also want to learn from your VR and iterate to improve it at your next event. For instance, if people noticeably took off the headsets before they got to the end of the VR experience, and that ending had your main takeaway or call to action, you’ll have to edit the VR application down for your next event. You’ll also want to solicit feedback from people after they’ve removed their headsets, so you can anecdotally learn where you can improve.
Most importantly — think of VR as a communication tool. Sure, you may think your 360 media is for a one-off event. But once you’ve used VR once, your audience will crave more of it. So start thinking about what else would be great to feature immersively. With InstaVR’s low cost subscription model, and easy drag-and-drop interface, the investment is very small compared with the extremely high ROI of incorporating VR into your trade show, conference, or corporate event marketing.
VR makes for an engaging and memorable addition to your event marketing plans. And InstaVR makes it so anyone at your company, regardless of technical skills, can create VR apps in minutes.