YouTube is gaining the ability to display 360-degree videos uploaded by users, according to the YouTube Creator Blog.
We’ve seen an increasing amount of 360-degree content on offer in the last year, even locally with Telstra and SBS offering coverage of major events like NYE fireworks and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. This should make it even easier for anyone with the right equipment to get their content out to a wider audience.
360-degree content is supported in the YouTube app for Android, on YouTube’s site and when YouTube videos are embedded with Chrome. Additional controls on non-mobile devices will allow you to pan around the scene, and you can pan around a scene while paused if you want to see everything happening at a particular moment in time.
One of the videos they’ve chosen to highlight the new functions is the pretty-awesome “Time Couch”, shown below:
Some metadata needs to be added to the video file before it’s uploaded to YouTube to indicate that the video has 360-degree content, otherwise it just looks like a weird combination of fisheye lens footage. This seems similar to the way Google’s Photosphere code works on Google+. Google has worked with a number of companies producing 360-degree content to come up with a standard that YouTube can follow and has released a draft RFC for “Spherical Video” on GitHub. A number of 360-degree cameras released from partners are now compatible with YouTube.
Curiously, while most of Google’s forays into 360-degree content are related to Cardboard, the company’s low-cost VR viewing apparatus, the YouTube announcement makes no mention of it. Playing the videos for Cardboard requires some additional processing (since you need to show the video for each eye), so it’s possible this will be added in the future.
If you want to check the videos out for yourself, this playlist shows some 360-degree videos already on YouTube.