360 Video: Is it for everyone?

As a journalist who has recently discovered the wonders of video and has officially jumped on the “video is the future (and the future has arrived)” bandwagon, I am excited about the possibilities of 360 video. While virtual reality offers a world where any scene can be created and experienced, 360 video offers the chance to document real-world scenes and situations in an immersive way, giving viewers a truly firsthand account of what is happening. I think the ways 360 video can advance storytelling and the art of video are going to become apparent very soon, and it will become an important tool for multimedia journalists.

But as much as I enjoy 360 video, I wonder if it will be applicable to all journalism situations, or if it will be overused simply because it’s a novel new technology that is gaining popularity. For example, the studio interview we watched in our class materials this week that was filmed in 360 demonstrated to me what would be an unnecessary use of the technology. There wasn’t anything interesting or interactive about the background, so the 360 video in that case actually detracted from the interview, because I was too busy looking around the scene to listen to the answers. Also, not all audiences will appreciate or even want to use 360 video, because the experience is so much different than traditional video.

I think 360 video is a powerful tool with lots of potential, but I also think it needs to be used wisely, in situations that are truly enhanced by the 360 experience, so it doesn’t become an overused fad that people come to resent. I’m looking forward, additionally, to seeing how the user experience for 360 video, and VR in general, is refined to make these technologies more accessible and less intimidating. I mean, how long do we have to wait for the eye implant that lets us experience video and virtual reality with just a blink?

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