With interest in VR on the rise, many new to the technology start off with a simple question: should I build it myself or outsource to an agency?
At InstaVR, we have a mix of direct clients and agency clients. Our platform is simple, powerful, and flexible enough for all to use. So the answer comes down to a number of factors: budget, time, access to equipment, # of VR apps you’re planning to build, how often you’ll be updating them, etc.
Below, we’ll go through each factor to help you decide when you should use InstaVR to build your own apps vs. when you should potentially outsource to an agency using InstaVR to build for you. And if you have any questions on the process of building VR, schedule a call with our sales team to learn more!
There’s a pretty broad range of agency pricing. Some charge per hour, some per project. In general, to get high quality VR filming, you’ll have to pay a premium because there are still relatively few agencies dedicated solely to filming in VR.
That being said, if you do go the agency route, you don’t want to underfund your project. Why? Underwhelming VR will hurt enthusiasm for the technology at your company. All it takes is one bad experience — shaky camera, confusing narrative — to sour users.
On the flip side, if you have a high budget, you can also buy top of the line camera, audio, and lighting equipment to film yourself. The quality of the VR experience can be on par because you’ll have access to the same equipment. But you’ll miss out on some of the post-production services that agencies offer, like adding customized icons into InstaVR or injecting additional audio.
If your budget is small… build it yourself. All you need is a camera (even a newer prosumer camera like the Insta 360 One X), an InstaVR Pro subscription, and a laptop. And you can even do like our client Chili’s, and rent cameras and headsets at a significant cost savings over buying them.
If your budget is higher… you have the choice to either hire a good agency or buy more expensive equipment and film yourself. This decision really depends on some of the factors we’ll discuss subsequently (ie how many apps will you be creating?)
This consideration is complicated.
Many of the top VR agencies are booked out months in advance. You could however procure your own equipment and begin filming + creating VR apps in InstaVR the same day. That being said, there’s a bit of a learning curve to using filming equipment if you’re brand new to the 360 world. So you have to balance out the time it would take you to learn equipment vs. how soon you need your VR apps created.
If you have a long time horizon… we suggest reaching out to multiple agencies, asking them for example VR apps they’ve produced, and working out a whole project plan with them. It’s best to have options and choose between agencies, but to do so requires a longer lead time to perform due diligence.
If you have a shorter time horizon… Amazon and many electronics stores (Best Buy, B & H, etc) have the equipment you need — cameras, microphones, lighting, etc. You could same day film if you’re in a rush. And since InstaVR is drag-and-drop and simple to use, there isn’t a steep learning curve to that aspect.
3. Access to Equipment
It’s amazing how ubiquitous 360 degree camera equipment has become in the last three years. Cost-effective prosumer cameras and professional cameras abound. We’ve even reached the point where you can rent equipment like an Insta360 Pro without having to outlay the normal $3500, if you’re just working on a single project.
On the other hand, if you really are just needing one app — say for employee recruitment or an event — and you don’t want to own any equipment, outsourcing to an agency may be easier. Of course, a lot of clients after they’ve built one app find other departments want to build apps too. You can’t really know until you gather feedback from that first app distribution.
If you have access to the 360 degree filming equipment… you can very easily create VR apps yourselves. You’ll definitely want a professional end-user experience though, so if all you have is a low-end consumer grade 360 camera, you’ll either need to upgrade to a $500+ camera or outsource to an agency.
If you don’t have access to 360 degree filming equipment… the easy solution is to outsource to an agency. But you can also easily buy all the equipment you need online or at an electronics store. Or even rent it.
4. Number of VR Apps You’re Planning to Build
Agencies are great if you have one or just a couple of apps you’re planning to build. But if you’re planning to seriously incorporate VR into your company — for training, for sales/marketing, for operations — then you’ll probably want to take ownership of the production process. The costs and planning in using an agency for a large number of apps is often difficult to manage. Plus, you lose the opportunity to build ad hoc apps, since you need to schedule with agencies.
If you’re just wanting 1-2 apps… an agency might make sense. The cost, plus the guarantee of high quality outputs, could make the whole process easier.
If you’re building many apps or want VR to be an integral part of your business… it’s probably better to take ownership of the whole process. As stated earlier, you can learn to use 360 VR equipment very quickly. And the ability to film yourself, when you want, guarantees maximum flexibility. InstaVR is simple for users in any business unit at your company, meaning you can manage the end-to-end process completely yourself.
5. How Often You’ll Be Updating Your Apps
One of the biggest issues with using an agency is the difficulty in updating an application. You have to re-engage with them to update the content. If there’s a scheduled update — say yearly — this isn’t too big of an issue, as you can plan ahead.
But if you’re needing to do periodic unplanned updates, you’ll want to have ownership of the whole project. With newer technologies like the Oculus Go Release Channels feature, updating apps has never been easier. You can even use the InstaVR Direct Publishing feature to have a single app on a Go that constantly has new content.
If you won’t be updating your apps often… an agency makes sense. You’ll be able to have a high-quality app available for a long time.
If you’ll be updating your apps frequently, particularly unplanned… you’ll want to build the VR yourself. Updating apps has become much easier, so as your company or processes change, you can update your VR easily using InstaVR.
The answer to “Build Yourself or Outsource” depends on a number of factors.
It’s important to understand your goals with VR before making this decision. While your company may engage with an advertising agency for your online & television commercials, Virtual Reality is a whole other medium which you can actually manage yourself. Particularly with solutions like InstaVR, bringing the building process inhouse has never been easier.
What we definitely suggest — if you’re thinking about using a VR agency, speak with a few of them and don’t under-budget your project. The ROI of great VR experiences is significant, and the people and equipment you use are a major component to how your VR turns out.
Let us know if you have any questions and best of luck with your decision!