You'll be hypnotized & amazed—with or without a virtual reality headset.
Virtual reality (VR) is on the rise, and it seems like everyone from your favourite YouTube-er to brands like National Geographic, The New York Times, and Facebook have begun adopting 360° videotelling as the hottest new way to share stories and immerse their audience in experiences that were simply not available until now.
How to Use 360° Video
If you’re new to VR then experiencing 360° videos is one of the easiest ways to “get your feet wet” with the latest technological development sweeping across the globe.
By strapping on a VR headset you can experience horror short films, explore far-off corners of the globe, or watch innovative music videos all from the comfort of your own home. Just move around and you'll see all around you—side to side, up, down and all around you. It's an incredible experience.
Without a VR headset you can still enjoy these awesome videos. On your desktop, drag your cursor around in multiple directions while the video is playing and you'll get an immersive view from seemingly infinite angles. On your smartphone or tablet, just swipe the screen during playback or move the device around and you'll get the same effect.
You'll be instantly hooked and will want to watch the videos over and over, swiping in new directions to see what you may have missed behind you. Ride a roller coaster and watch the death-defying views from every angle.
In the example roller coaster screenshots above (from Discovery), we show you four views along the ride aboard the Mega Coaster. As described, "This scream machine will push you into the back of your seat over 4,000 feet of track, with a half dozen inversions and speeds topping out over 60 miles an hour." Now you can get more immersed in that experience without leaving home. (Get more roller coaster fun below from Seoul Grand Park).
I’ve put together some of my favourite “must see” 360° video stories to inspire, shock and excite you. So grab your Google Cardboard (or preferred VR-viewing device such as an Oculus Rift or GearVR) and get watching.
National Geographic’s 360° Tour: The “Devil’s Pool” at Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, partially because of its size—it’s one of the tallest waterfalls on the planet! But also because of the shallow, calm pool called the “Devil’s Pool” that sits right at its edge, which daring swimmers will sit in, mere inches away from being swept down into the darkness below.
Click the image below to get to the 360 video hosted on the National Geographic Facebook page.
360° Roller Coaster at Seoul Grand Park
This is not for the faint of heart! If you get nauseous on roller coasters or experience motion sickness, watch with caution!
However, if you can handle the roller coaster feel then be sure to take a look around—not just at the coaster and at the scenery, but also at the other passengers behind you! Their expressions may be my favourite part of the video.
Bjork's Stonemilker Music Video
I’ve been a huge Bjork fan for ages, so when she announced that she had released one of the first 360° music videos obviously I had to give it a watch.
The video was shot on-location in Iceland by Vrse.work and is the music video for her song Stonemilker, which is off her album Vulnicura. Be warned: this video clocks in at a whopping near-7 minutes, but it’s engaging and interesting right until the last moment.
While not jaw-dropping in the same sense as the NatGeo video, this kind of content is especially interesting considering that music videos have been somewhat on the decline since channels like MTV and MuchMusic started to fall by the wayside. Could VR revive music videos? We’ll have to wait and see!
Take a Look Inside the Large Hadron Collider
This one gets on the list simply for its “cool” factor. The Large Hadron Collider is basically a science project on steroids and is the largest particle collider on Earth.
But what does that statement really mean? It’s hard to convey size and scope through descriptive words and still images, and even video doesn’t really do the LHC justice. However, when you strap on a VR headset and take a 360° tour, the sheer scope and size of the collider really becomes apparent. Make sure to check this one out!
Fly in a Fighter Jet
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fly in a fighter jet, then this 360° video is for you. Tag along with the Patrouille Suisse (the Swiss version of the US Blue Angels) as they fly in formation over the Swiss Alps.
Not only are the views in this video incredibly breathtaking, but I find that the video actually gives you that real “weightlessness” feeling that you get when in an airplane, which will either make this video amazing or a bit nausea-inducing.
Visit Hamilton Island in 360˚ Virtual Reality with Qantas
Okay, so this one is technically a promotional video for the Hamilton Islands, but it’s so beautiful and breathtaking that I had to include it. The video features scenic views from oceanside villas, views from planes and helicopters of the island and gorgeous reefs, but the highlight starts around 2:40 with a scuba session.
If you’ve never been scuba diving before then you are in for a real treat, as the video takes you underwater and into the coral reef surrounding the island. As you watch, get up close and personal with schools of rainbow fish, beautiful coral and a sea turtle!
If you’re yearning for a vacation, this is the perfect video to inspire a getaway.
GetOut 360° Horror
Beware – this video may terrify you!
I figured I ought to include something from YouTube’s extensive “360° Horror” section in this list, but I’ll admit that I had to take the headset off for a breather because it’s just that creepy.
If you’re a horror buff and love that jittery, scared feeling you get from someone whispering in your ear (this experience is definitely one that requires headphones) then this is the video for you. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Have we missed any great 360° videos in our list? Tell us in the comments section below.