YouTube Adds 360-Degree Feature For Videos

Last month, YouTube experimented with Choose Your View, which allows the user to have multiple camera angles of the same video. Now the popular video website is trying out another feature to keep viewers interested: 360-degree videos.

Just like any YouTube experiment, there are a few videos available now that showcase the idea, such as a Formula 1 car racing down a track and the viewer sitting in a flying red couch. Obviously, the quality isn't as good as you would expect even at higher resolutions because it is limited to the camera's shooting capabilities. That's not to mention that these videos will take up four to five times the bandwidth of a regular YouTube video. Additionally, the feature isn't widely available yet. You can only use the 360-degree feature on the Google Chrome browser or the YouTube for Android app, but it's bound to be widely available in the future.

As cool as the feature looks, the process to actually shoot and upload the videos does require a bit of work. First, you actually need to buy a camera that shoots in panoramic, 360-degree views, and YouTube supports four of those cameras: the Kodak SP360, the Ricoh Theta, the IC Real Tech Allie, and the Giroptic 360cam. YouTube said that the video needs to be at 24, 25, or 30 frames per second with support for higher frame rates coming in the future.

Next comes the upload process. Uploaders need to add metadata to the video file for 360-degree video playback, and they can do it in one of two ways. The easy route involves downloading the 360 Video Metadata app and then creating a new file that enables the 360-degree controls for the viewer. The harder way involves some knowledge of Python script to make the new file before uploading it to YouTube.

The company is really pushing for this new feature to work, even going as far as hosting an event starting today through April at its YouTube Space in Los Angeles, where people can try out the cameras and learn how to shoot and upload 360-degree videos.

Considering the rise in VR products in the last few years, this seems to be the next logical step for YouTube. The popular site attracts millions of viewers every day, and with VR on the rise, the company is looking to expand its user base to those who want to purchase VR headsets when they become available to the public.

Watching a regular YouTube video through Oculus' Crescent Bay or Razer's OSVR isn't enough, but by adding a 360-degree view of the same video, the experience is bound to please future VR customers as well as giving regular YouTube viewers a new tool to play with while watching videos.

Follow Rexly Peñaflorida II @Heirdeux. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • gabrielspcs1
    I know of a TV service provider that recently just tested something like this. I was one of the research study participants! Its very interesting I will say. Not sure if I like it or hate it though. Looks amazing on the Samsung VR headset I will tell you though.
  • joe nate
    The absolutely coolest part of this is that if you have an android device all it takes is updating your youtube app and you can experience it first hand right away. No money, no waiting for a VR headset to arrive, no plugging in cables and putting things on your head. Just update and experience something cool.
  • dstarr3
    Can't wait for xTube to get it later.
  • ykki
    Can't wait for xTube to get it later.
  • loki1944
    I wish they'd focus on improving the quality of their videos first, any motion in youtube is horrible with little blocks.
  • stevo777
    @loki944, I think that may be your system, or internet provider. I certainly don't see any artifacts on youtube.

    This stuff is the future. Very cool:)
  • Oldbutstillatit
    If it isn't stereoscopic, then it's not VR, it's just a a spherical screen. Neat but, not revolutionary. "3D60" boys and girls, copyright 2015 all rights reserved.
  • chechak
    No need for it !
  • Johnisio
    I think 360° video will become especially popular with live sports.
    You can watch a few *stunning scenes* like speed flying or a live rock concert over here: