Topics Covered: 1. Why Create a VR Video App? 2. How to Create a Narrative Within Your App 3. What is the Basic Process of VR App Creation with InstaVR? 4. Special Considerations Unique to Video 5. Client Examples
1. Why Create a VR Video App?
Mobile video is an incredibly popular form of entertainment and communication. SnapChat alone has 300 Million+ monthly active users. And with decreasing costs in bandwidth, and the proliferation of 4G LTE availability throughout the developing world, the demand for engaging mobile video experiences has only increased. So it’s no surprise that there is also large demand for Virtual Reality and 360 immersive media made using Video.
Whether you’re making a VR app for yourself, your business, or your clients — we strongly suggest you consider utilizing video for media capture. Whereas still images are often a good fit for static VR experiences — virtual home tours come to mind — video adds an engaging dynamic that can help add an extra Wow! factor to your mobile VR app, increasing the satisfaction of your audience.
Virtually all of the mainstream 360 cameras on the market capture video. On the lower end of the price spectrum, for example, a Ricoh Theta S can capture 360 spherical video in Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 fps). Considering that most phones on the market today are optimized for 2K video, the output of the Ricoh Theta S should be great in your finalized VR app created on the InstaVR platform. For higher end users, you can utilize a sophisticated GoPro rig or Nokia Ozo to capture much longer and higher resolution videos that you can transform into video apps on our platform for Gear VR and HTC Vive.
Video is not just the future of VR apps, it’s the present. So if you haven’t tried creating a 360 VR video app on InstaVR, we highly recommend it!
There are many ways to create VR videos. Listed above are the main forms of 360 media creation tools.
2. How to Create a Narrative Within Your App
Virtual reality relies upon the creator of the application formulating a narrative. There is some level of narrative manipulation by the end user — they can choose which Navigation link to initiate, or which Hotspot to engage with, which direction to look, etc — but as the author of the VR video app, you have to consider this when doing the video capture prior to uploading to our platform. You want the whole experience to be cohesive and make sense to the audience though.
To achieve narrative cohesion, you should consider the following:
- How does the VR video app start? Perhaps you should start the application with a still 360 image with narration explaining the app. It’s easy to add voiceover narration in InstaVR using an .mp3 file. The end user can then gaze at the Navigation link that takes them to the first video. (Alternately, you can use a 360 still image almost like a menu view, with multiple Navigation points linking to multiple videos.)
- Does the actual 360 video have a beginning, middle, and end? If I’m creating a VR video app of a wedding, for example, I’d want to narratively start with a first video of the lead up to the wedding — perhaps the bride and groom getting ready, a flower girl dropping flowers, the wedding march, etc. This could lead into a second video of the actual wedding ceremony itself. And finally, the last video could be of dancing. This logical narrative flow — beginning, middle, end — allows your audience to follow along logically and appreciate what you’ve captured.
- Is the conclusion satisfying? At the end of the video, you want to make sure your audience gets out of it what you want. For instance, with last year’s VR trailer for the Blair Witch movie, the goal was to drive people to the theater to see the movie, so the finale of the trailer was a static card telling you the release date of the movie. One of the cooler features of InstaVR is the ability to add a “Call-to-Action” to your VR video app. So you can have the user initiate a phone call with you (or your client) at the end of your application, or it could pull up a web page on their phone or laptop (depending on if you package to iOS, Android, or Web Embed). But the important thing to keep in mind, just like with movies, is that the end of the VR video is the last thing your audience will experience, so have a logical ending to your narrative.
The 2016 sequel Blair Witch was promoted through a strong 360 degree promotional movie with a solid call to action.
3. What is the Basic Process of VR app Creation with InstaVR?
The actual mechanics of creating a VR video app using InstaVR are quite simple. Just like with 360 still images, you upload, author, publish, and analyze. There’s a great video on that process embedded on the bottom of this page and we have a written step-by-step guide here.
Here are the broad steps though as a refresher:
- Upload your panoramic 360 VR videos. We require them to be in MP4 format, which is the standard export format of virtually every 360 camera on the market. For specific resolutions, please reference this FAQ on required video types for upload to InstaVR.
- Author using Navigation Links & Hotspots. If you’d like to give your 360 video app some interactivity, you can overlay on the video Navigation links or Hotspots. The Navigation links allow your audience to exit the current 360 video and start a new one. The Hotspots allow you to augment the video with overlaid static images or additional narration or text.
- Brand your app. Just like with a standard 360 image app, you’ll use the InstaVR console to create an app icon, a splash image or video that loads prior to your 360 VR experience, and a home screen so your user can choose dual-view or standard (in case they don’t have a headset).
- Publish. All of the major platforms we publish to — iOS, Android, Google Cardboard, Gear VR, HTC Vive, Web Embed — allow for 360 videos. Gear VR and HTC Vive, in particular, allow you to publish longer form and higher quality video than the other platforms. And at our Enterprise level subscription, you can publish very long-form VR video of 20+ minutes in length, with app size up to 9 GB. To read about how Toyota uses InstaVR video apps + HTC Vive for recruiting purposes, click here. To read about how Hello Kitty uses Gear VR video apps built on InstaVR to garner more visitors to their theme park, click here.
InstaVR client Sanrio, the makers of Hello Kitty, created a very engaging VR video tour of their theme park, Puroland. The VR experience was used for promotional purposes with travel agents to encourage overseas travel to the park.
4. Special Considerations Unique to VR Video
Though the app creation process is virtually identical between still images and VR video, there are still some significant things particular to only video that you want to keep in mind as you author your VR experiences.
If the user gets through your 360 video without navigating to another one, you have to decide what happens next. In the Transition Options section on the right hand side of the authoring platform, you can decide if you’d like the video to Loop (start over again), Stop (completely end), or Navigate (where you pick the next video to load automatically).
There are a number of audio choices. Also found on the right hand side of the Authoring section, you can add Music to overlay with your video, Voice Over to your Video, or Spatial audio.
In the packaging section, under Advanced Options, you can choose to use either the Original video resolution, or convert it to 1920 x 1080. The latter is the safer approach, particularly if your audience may be accessing your app in places where bandwidth is constrained or where many older models of smartphones are still in use.
5. Client Examples
Once you’ve created your VR experience, you’re going to want to publish it to the appropriate platforms.
Here are some examples of clients that have created VR video apps and then published them to either the iTunes or Google Play Stores. Hope you enjoy them!
Tokyo VR – A nice, soothing application that takes you on a tour of scenic locations in Tokyo. Note the added audio to the application, which helps it transcend typical 360 VR video apps.
Google Play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.candlify.tokyovr&hl=en
Jasper VR – A tour of the scenic outdoors of Jasper, Canada. Unlike the Tokyo VR app, this one focuses on capturing in-camera the ambient noise of the lush surroundings. The results and the app are excellent!
Google Play link – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fotofotovr.jaspervr
MLS2StPete – What better way to showcase St. Petersburg, Florida than putting together a VR app! A group of soccer fans put together this app, using high octane editing and .mp3 music overlaid. It’s a bit less soothing than Tokyo or Jasper, but with plenty of excitement and beaches.
InstaVR allows you to create engaging, entertaining, memorable VR video apps without any coding knowledge. Simply capture interesting 360 videos using your camera, upload to our platform, author, and publish. It couldn’t be simpler!