VR 360 and VR 3D are very cool

While I created QuicktimeVR 360 still images that could be viewed online, more than a decade ago, and while I was shooting 3D video many years ago, I was a bit slow to play with VR.

What changed my mine was watching a VR 360 video from inside an aerobatic aircraft formation flight. Since I used to pilot light aircraft, I know what I want to be looking at when I am in a plane, and its usually not where the camera operator had the camera pointed! With VR 360, turns, climbs, dives, aerobatics feels natural, because I, as the viewer, can look where I need to be looking to see what I need to see. Watching one particular aerobatic video instantly convinced me that VR 360 has a future – when used properly. Of course, much of what is available to watch in VR 360 now is gimmicky – and we need much more content where VR 360 has a purpose, other than to illustrate itself!

VR 3D – that is, watching stereoscopic 3D in a VR headset is also a different experience than watching it on a 3D monitor, 3D TV or large movie theater screen. I noticed that a “walking shot” in VR 3D was sufficient to introduce a bit of vertigo (which is funny because I shot it, stabilized and I knew what was coming next!)

On Youtube, the 3D videos that have the most views are often those that display “3D extreme” as the call it, meaning they have many shots that project images in front of the screen. This is an example of a 3D gimmick, albeit, one that is popular with those watching 3D on Youtube.

I suspect this same crowd will – seriously – like extreme VR 3D – like my walking shots – that give a bit of vertigo. Kind of like being on drugs, I suppose!

On a more serious note, I have been giving thought to using both VR 360 and VR 3D perhaps in online tutorials. With VR 360, we could have several screens and the speaker all visible at the same time – just turn your head to look at the screen, or perhaps a physical mockup or the instructor. Let the student access the format that works best for the student – just by turning one’s head.

Back to reality, VR right now is in a very early infancy. Smart phones with “cardboard” style viewers work to introduce the concepts and capabilities. But the image quality is generally not yet quite good enough – splitting a 1920 x 1080 screen into two separate eye views means resolution less than 960 x 1080, and in reality, even less than that.

Smart phone batteries do not last long when used in these viewers and there are obstacles to keeping phones charged and powered while watching in VR.

Most (but not all) VR viewers lack a diopter or focusing adjustment; most (but not all) lack an interpupil distance adjustment. Most (but not all) VR viewers are unable to be used by those who must, at times, wear prescription corrective eye glasses.

These are not VR killers – they are mere obstacles that need to be overcome, and should be overcome in the next year, we presume!

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