Google cuts 360-degree videos in half with YouTube’s new VR180 format

For the past few years, there’s been a ton of hype about viewing video content in virtual reality headsets. However, many content creators, and indeed some VR headset owners, are still getting used to making and watching full 360-degree clips that are made specifically for those devices.

Today, YouTube announced a kind of middle ground between regular videos and VR-oriented 360-degree clips. The new format is called VR180, and as you might have guessed, it’s been designed to give people a more immersive experience than normal videos, but not quite as difficult or overwhelming as 360-degree movies can be to watch.

In a blog post announcing the new format, Google stated that VR180 videos will show high-resolution clips that will look normal when viewed on a smartphone or PC, with no need to pan a phone around to see the entire scene. However, when viewed in a VR headset, the same clip turns into an 180-degree experience. The video also appears to be in 3D when it is viewed through such a headset.

Google says watching VR180 videos on YouTube will not only be a cool experience for VR headset owners, they should make things easier for video creators who won’t have to worry about creating or editing content designed to be shown in a full 360-degree viewpoint. Any videos in the new VR180 format will also support livestreaming. A number of VR180 videos, such as the one above, have already been uploaded to YouTube.

The new format will work with headsets that support Google’s Cardboard and Daydream VR platforms, along with the YouTube app made for Sony’s PlayStation VR device. Google says it is also working with OEMs like Lenovo, LG, and YI to help them release cameras made specifically to take videos that support the new format. They will go on sale sometime later this winter. Pricing was not revealed, but Google says they should cost about the same as standard cameras.

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