New Dimensions in Video — Without the Funny Glasses

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Take the Matrix-popularized concept of being able to view a subject encircled in cameras from 360 degrees worth of angles. Now put just one camera in the middle of the scene, with 11 lenses facing in all directions, and shoot those 360 degrees of viewing angles, around and up and down. With me still? Now take that shot and turn it into a full-motion video.

Immersive Media surfingCalgary, AB-based Immersive Media (s IMC), founded in 1994, has been trying to help us come to grips with this admittedly crazy concept for years, having designed such a dodecahedronal camera and the platform and services to put it to work. The company started out with military applications, then helped Google pioneer its maps’ Street View (that relationship ended after 2007), and now it’s trying to get into experiential marketing and sports.

I recently had a chance to view a bunch of demos of applications of IM technology, such as a set of surfing videos created for Red Bull in Tahiti. The camera, mounted on a backpack worn by a surfer (the rig weighs 25 pounds), gives an amazing view of the inside of a wave. It’s very cool to see what it looks like in the surfer’s wake by navigating around all the angles captured simultaneously. “I’m seeing perspectives of the barrel that I’ve never seen and I’ve been surfing for 20 years,” said one pro surfer in a behind-the-scenes video.

For me as a viewer, messing with the concept of a point of view was in one respect incredibly freeing, but on the other hand completely nauseating. With the surfing videos especially, I had trouble placing myself between sky and water. It was a relief when a new shot started, and the player set me back at a forward-moving starting point. I also had to push myself to remember to pivot around the screen — after all these hours I’ve spent watching video over the years, mousing around on the screen is a learned behavior.

However, what I like about IM is that, unlike 3-D, it expands the possibilities for video capture without putting too much of a burden on viewers. I think it’s pretty awesome that these 360-degree videos run in a regular Flash player and are embeddable. IM said the multiple angles drive users to watch videos again and again to experience a variety of angles. And you know what that means: more engagement — and potentially more monetizable experiences.

Other ongoing IM projects include a secret-code promotion for Microsoft around the launch of Halo 3: ODST and a set of videos for Vail-owned ski resorts. IM said it is in talks with all the major sports leagues and could potentially show up at the Olympics as well. Other planned uses include behind-the-scenes footage, red carpet coverage and concerts.

One cool new expansion of the technology will be live streaming. There’s a live demo from one of Immersive’s offices here, and the company is doing a trial with Canada’s MuchMusic next week. You can imagine a live 360-degree feed might be pretty cool as a static installation in a public venue like Times Square.

But I have to say I’m taking IM’s intimations about big potential deals with a grain of salt, as the company has been doing trials here and there for years in this space — it filmed David Beckham’s U.S. debut, for example, and did something with the NBA a couple years back. This 360-degree technology has been crazy and weird forever. For IM to make the leap from marketing campaigns and trials to a longer-term deal would be more interesting.

6 Comments

Lance Loesberg

As a new medium 360º immersive video may be utilized for an endless number of applications. Pending the use, a comprehensive understanding of the technology and the implementation of a creative process enhances the overall value of the production.

For completed examples and the execution of successful 360º spherical videos, visit http://www.biglook360.com.

antonis Karydis

Dear Liz.
You are right, puting salt on IM’s aspirations.

But there is much more than IM in 360 video. IM is far from the forefront of technology and application and especially real marketing.

For a pleasant surprise, please have a look at http://www.mativision.com to see the real deal, a company that works, does real business with real customers and with a system and model far from the ever-experimental/on-trial IM system.

Thank you
Antonis

Larry Logan

Immersive Media is comfortable with its leadership position in 360-degree view interactive, immersive videos. Our accomplishments are well-recognized — through our pioneering role and development of the street view mapping technology, our customer base, our patents and as the industry’s only end-to-end solution provider, from manufacturing through image capture and post-production, through distribution.

Our clients have clearly spoken with respect to our achievements. Our successful and award-winning projects include those on behalf of such brands as Red Bull, Armani Jeans, Mercedes-Benz, MINI Cooper, adidas, and the NBA. This is a client list that those with more limited services, technology and less experience clearly covet.

Liz’s article described the excitement around our work on behalf of Microsoft and agencies AQKA and T.A.G., again leaders in their field. Our contribution to the massive launch of Xbox Halo 3 obviously confirms that Immersive delivers.

-Larry Logan
Chief Marketing Officer
Immersive Media

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