Navigation is one of the features used in all apps created through InstaVR. That encompasses everything from a one scene app looped to a multi-branching “Choose Your Own Adventure” style app.
But we don’t talk about Navigation much. Why?
To some, it’s a fairly basic feature. The truth is there is much customization you can do via Navigation. And having good, clear narrative flow is important.
So we’re going to take some time to go pretty in depth on how you can maximize the Navigation features in InstaVR.
If you have just a single scene you’ve filmed, you’ll likely want to choose to Loop it. You can do so by choosing “Loop” in the lower right of the authoring screen in Transition Options. This will auto-play the scene over and over again without the user having to take any action.
This is good if you only have one scene. It will allow the user to experience that same scene again and again. If you’re at an exhibition or giving a presentation, it’s nice for if one user is handing off the VR headset to the next person. There will be no interrupting of the VR.
It’s easy to stop the loop if necessary — add a “Return to Home” button on the bottom of the scene, which can be done by going into the “Global Settings.” (found in the lower right of the authoring screen, next to Action)
Using the “Stop” navigation feature — also found in the lower right under Transition Options — is good if you want to give your app users choice. This will stop/freeze the video at the end of the scene.
In normal circumstances, this would signal to your app user that the VR experience is over. You can then use the aforementioned “Return to Home” button when they hand the headset back to you.
Or you can add “Navigation Links” that allow the user to choose a subsequent scene they want to go to. To have the Navigation links not appear until towards the end of the scene, we suggest you use the “Time-Based Navigation Link Appearance” feature we added to InstaVR last year. This will create a seamless and intuitive experience where the user ends a scene, and then is presented the choice of subsequent scenes.
3. Automatically Navigate (aka “Passive VR”)
Navigate allows one scene to flow into a subsequent scene without the user having to do anything. This, effectively, makes for passive VR without choice.
This is actually a good thing for if you’re presenting your VR to users new to the medium. Or if you’re at an event that will be heavily attended, where giving users choice via Navigation Link will slow down the number of viewings of the VR experience.
Because 360-degree filming is often done in smaller increments — instead of long takes — you can use InstaVR’s auto-navigate feature to edit the scenes together to flow into a cohesive narrative.
4. Navigation Links Added to a Scene (and how to customize them)
For image-based VR, and for many video-based VR apps, you’ll want to add user-initiated navigation links. These will be triggered via gaze, hand controller, or clicking, depending on the publishing outlet.
There’s a number of cool customizations you can do with the Navigation links that you should be aware of…
A.) Navigation Icon – we default to a teardrop icon you’ve likely seen on maps before, like Google Maps. Did you know you can customize the icon to whatever .jpg or .png you’d like though? Some clients will create custom graphics that explain what clicking the Navigation link will do. You can even do transparent navigation links that allow users to “discover” the navigation links without drawing attention to them.
B.) Time-based Appearance – we suggest reading this more comprehensive article on the topic. But this feature allows you to have your Nav links only appear at a certain point in time. This is great for video if you’d like the Navigation Link appearance to coincide with something happening in the scene. Or if you want it to happen towards the end of the scene. This feature is found in the advanced sections after you’ve added the Navigation Link, and you can also add an end time when the Navigation Link disappears. (Please note all time-based Navigation and Hotspot appearances and disappearances are done in milliseconds)
C.) Customizing the font/color/size of the label – we give you a label section to explain what happens if the navigation link is clicked. We also give you the ability to completely customize this label! For instance, if your Nav Link is being placed in a white background area, you likely don’t want the default font, which is white and would be hard to read. So you can customize it to whatever color you’d like.
5. Great Client Examples of Customized Navigation Links
Galago Vision – Their LAPD Choose Your Future app is amazing for a lot of reasons. Their Navigation Links not only are customized, but use a transparent background to fit more seamlessly into a scene. Definitely worth a look!
Hello Kitty – Hello Kitty also customized their Nav Links for their virtual Puroland tour. You’ll notice they went with a natural circular look, and in the graphic itself explain where initiating the link will take you.