After a few months of little market-penetration, 360 degree video is finally making waves. I’m sure you’ve seen clips on social media, but if you haven’t, I’ll give a brief explanation. 360 video cameras usually have two lenses facing opposite to each other, giving a roughly 360 degree effect, with fisheye lenses in the same style as a GoPro. Using correction functions in post-production software, it is possible to make it look very much like a real scene, with an amount of unavoidable distortion.
The real beauty of 3D video is that it allows you to explore what is going on anywhere in the scene. By scrolling across the screen, you get to choose the direction of the camera at any given moment. As a platform, it really is quite brilliant, though the quality isn’t quite the 4K/HD quality most of us are used to by now. As shown in the linked video of Liverpool Football Club’s ground, Anfield, it has real potential as a medium. At the moment, the devices are quite expensive and haven’t seen much real world use- big events seem to the name of the game.
I’m keen to take one on my expedition this summer for an altogether reason: education. It is one thing to teach children and students through textbooks and pretty photographs on a presentation slide, but imagine if that student could explore the subject for themselves? Take the jungle for example; I can show kids as many horrific photos of me being bitten by leeches as I like, or of enormous monitor lizards roaming the jungle, but surely by letting them explore the jungle themselves, they would be more interested?
Like most wildlife videography, the scenes would have to be staged to an extent, with us already knowing what will be in each shot, but a student could scroll through video, searching for something, when they get to discover an amazing species, and feel that buzz- you know, the one that I assume all scientists get when they find something cool and are doing what they love? I believe that by putting this choice (and this chance) in the hands of students, perhaps on a website or as part of a presentation, we really could inspire the next generation of Bioscientists and Geographers, as well as other disciplines.
Could this be the future of Educational Science Communication?
I’d argue not the future, but I think it should certainly play a big role in the coming years, and I’m incredibly excited to see this technology develop.
360 Degree video is here, and you should definitely be paying attention!