VR vs. 360º Video – What’s the difference?

April 2, 2018

“We used to say seeing is believing.  Now we have to say experiencing is believing." -Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Worldwide
With the rise of virtual reality technology, a lot of new terminology has surfaced which may cause a bit of confusion between varying products. For example, did you know that virtual reality and 360º video actually describe two unique experiences? Oftentimes, these two terms are used interchangeably but actually refer to two concepts that are quite different. One key similarity that can be drawn between virtual reality and 360º video is the use of VR headsets which make it hard to differentiate for the average consumer.  In today’s blog post, we look to compare and contrast the features that set these two products apart.
Let’s start by defining them.  Virtual reality (or VR) generally refers to a computer-generated scenario used to simulate a real-life experience. It’s designed to create an immersive experience for the viewer, allowing them to be able to move around virtually and interact with the created environment around them.  In order to experience VR, you require a virtual reality headset to view the content being displayed. This type of visual experience can progress through a series of events or story-lines based on the user’s interactions, or simply explored however the user chooses.
The video below is a great example of the immersive and interactive experience you can expect from virtual reality applications:

360º videos are video recordings that display a 360º field of view.  The filmmaker creates video content with this in mind, and most of the time it involves real world visuals that the user is seeing. One way to look at this medium is that it is an expanded visual experience that stretches beyond traditional photography and videography work. The uniqueness of 360º video is that it doesn’t require a headset to view the video content. 360º videos can also be viewed from a smartphone, tablet, or computer as well, although offering a less immersive experience.
This 360º video produced by Gillette Clinical and Discovery shows the experience of being on a roller coaster:

What is better for Storytelling?
Both virtual reality and 360º video offer their own unique benefits and can both be effective forms of Storytelling!
360º videos has less equipment restrictions which means easier access to the people you want to share your story with.  It also allows your viewer to follow a dedicated timeline designed for a specific purpose.  There is huge opportunity to immerse your viewer in this experience and truly engage them in your Story.
Virtual reality offers a much more interactive and immersive experience, allowing the viewer to engage with the content they’re seeing. Picking up items and moving around a virtual space are some of the ways to build further interactivity.  An example of a practical application of this is a hands-on training simulation, such as fixing a part on a car.  Access to VR related equipment would need to be considered as a potential barrier for many people so it is important to consider this as a possibility.
In order to understand which of these two mediums may be more effective, you’ll have to first understand the target audience.
Examples of Storytelling in 360º video:

Highlight Videos of Storytelling in Virtual Reality:

As you can see from the examples, there are some key differentiating factors between VR and 360º video.  Although the technology is quite similar, understanding the difference between the two is vital to determining the best approach to reaching your target audience.  These types of technologies are the new, popular method of engaging your customers in a unique way and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Interested in learning more about how VR or 360º video can help your business? Get in touch with us and we’d be happy to discuss applications and ideas with you!

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