Google is launching a new line of cameras for 180-degree VR video

Google is launching a new, more limited cinematic VR format that it hopes will be almost as accessible as regular YouTube videos. It’s called VR180, a collaboration between YouTube and Google’s Daydream VR division. And it’ll be produced with a new line of cameras from Yi, Lenovo, and LG, as well as other partners who meet VR180 certification standards.

As the name suggests, VR180 videos don’t stretch all the way around a viewer in VR. They’re supposed to be immersive if you’re facing forward, but you can’t turn and glance behind you. Outside VR, they’ll appear as traditional flat videos, but you can watch them in 3D virtual reality through the YouTube app with a Google Cardboard, Daydream, or PlayStation VR headset.

Creators can shoot the videos using any camera with a VR180 certification. Google’s Daydream team is working with the three companies above, and the first of their VR180 products are supposed to launch this winter, at roughly the same price as a point-and-shoot camera. So far, the only image we’ve seen is the one above, a line drawing of Lenovo’s design. It appears to have two wide-angle lenses that can shoot stereoscopic video, and it’s a far cry from the expensive alien orbs that we often see in VR film shoots.

YouTube videographers are supposed to be able to shoot the way they would with any other camera, and will “soon” be able to edit the videos with Adobe Premiere Pro and other standard software. Based on the timeline above, it’ll be some time before you can buy a camera, but Google says creators can apply to loan one from one of its YouTube Spaces, which are found in nine major cities worldwide.

Moving toward 180-degree instead of full 360-degree video has a few big advantages. It doesn’t need the same time-consuming (and often expensive) stitching as videos made with, say, Google’s 360-degree Jump system. You can put a person behind the camera without them appearing in the shot — in full 360-degree videos, filmmakers often literally hide behind objects during a scene. And it could push down file sizes, so viewers are less likely to get annoying buffering gaps while they’re streaming.

A decent amount of VR film is already being shot with a 180-degree field of view — including sports videos from NextVR, which reasoned that viewers would be fine watching action on the field without looking back at the crowd. In practice, we’ve had a mixed experience with this, but it could be a worthwhile sacrifice if it lowers the bar for YouTube videographers.

At the same time, VR180 is further from the goal of full VR “immersion” than 360-degree video, and it lets filmmakers hedge their bets with something that’s easier to translate onto a flat screen. This doesn’t mean VR is in trouble — but at the very least, Google is taking a step back and hoping more filmmakers can catch up.


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I was so excited about getting a Gear 360 camera to do 360 videos, and this article made me realize it wasn’t going to be what I thought. I thought it would be similar to the Cardboard Camera app, where you can create 360 panoramas. But the 360 and other cameras ARE NOT 3D! That’s why they have those special rigs with multiple cameras. This VR180 looks like it is 3D .. now do I want two cameras for a full 360 view in 2D or a 180 view in 3D? .. Probably the 3D view.

this is great news. Right now i use a kodak 4K that less than 360 to capture anatomy videos. The high resolution is useful. The lack of stereoscopic is disappointing for VR. If they could pack pixels into the frontal view (4k – 6k) and not have to stretch pixels all around the sphere and we dont have to deal with stitching, that would be really helpful.

It’d be fun to rent one and do a few videos cycling through NYC, through the streets and traffic and over the bridges!

This is not Virtual Reality. It’s video of actual reality. Virtual reality is something created by a computer.

True , but sadly the media and market are running with incorrect terms

Not necessarily. VR is basically a technique to simulate a feeling that the viewer is part of an environment which does not exist in the viewer’s immediate physical surroundings; which in this case happens to be a 360/180 video.
The 360 video in itself does not qualify as VR unless consumed as intended.

Great! I dabbled into 180 stereo video by strapping 2 GoPros side by side. (Actually 140 degrees because that’s what the GoPros have).

As a filmmaker I think 180 it’s better because you can focus attention more easily on stuff that’s important to the story ( there’s less risk of important stuff happening behind the viewer). Also people can watch it sitting down.

Plus, the stereo is not that complicated to produce, since you don’t have to worry about big multi camera setups or stitching.

What happened to the official GoPro 3D adaptor? Seems to have been forgotten for awhile now.

I don’t know. If you’re talking about the one i’m thinking, it splits the image in half, so you only get half resolution for each eye. I never used it though.

For my test I wanted the full frame (as wide as possible) for each eye, so I got two of them facing the same direction with a $15 adapter.

I agree. I see no reason to have behind me filmed if the content is great in front of me and the sides envelope my senses.

The YouTube video "Saw VS 50 Pound Rubber Band Ball!!" by WHAT’S INSIDE? FAMILY says it’s filmed with this and claims to be the first video to do so:

This. Was. Great! In the gear vr the depth was on point! And the video degrades gracefully to normal viewing when you are not in the headset. Responsive media design is a winning strategy. It doesn’t force people into the tech but the ones who chose to wear a headset are granted an immersive experience. This also may introduce some FOMO and may convince more users to try it out. Is this the portapak for VR?

Apple is all geared up for 3D starting this year and is soon going to be in a position to leapfrog YouTube thanks to the size of its users’ galleries and the popularity of its cameras. I bet this year’s iTunes and Apple TV will be not only 4K but 3D as well.

I Don’t see any traction from Apple in that direction. They’ve been all about AR so far and their VR efforts are well behind others.

Leapfrog YouTube? Lmao.

Yeah but we have to make sure to pit Google against Apple wherever possible.

I Don’t see any traction from Apple in that direction. They’ve been all about AR so far and their VR efforts are well behind others.

Leapfrog YouTube? Lmao.

Please don’t make this an Apple vs thing. This is about the success of the media as a whole. Apple and YouTube on board with more immersive 3D technology is what the industry needs.

I don’t know, maybe I’m turning into an old crank, but the whole technology leaves me cold. It isn’t something I would spend much money on. Google better hope I’m in the minority!

I think we are still trying to figure out the app for this tech and getting it more streamlined, but VR/AR seems like a very solid platform for media moving forward.

It’s like we are in the mid to late 2000s right before we finally figured out personal computing, but I definitely think this will take longer.

I am still waiting for the augmented reality of Rainbow’s End. I want real time generated imagery overlaid on reality in a seamless way.

Uhm… spherical cameras like the LG 360 and the Ricoh Theta can do real time 360. And if you block one lens, you get real time 180 (or in the case of the LG 360, set it to 180 mode). And they’re here now (the Ricoh Theta is in its fourth generation).

Someone is writing articles from PR sheets without taking time to see what else it out there…

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