The National Association of Broadcasters convention this week in Las Vegas is so mistitled; the focus of the conference has been on everything but broadcasting.
So if what’s topical at NAB is a hint at where the market is going, then virtual reality and 360 degree video, is now really, well, a virtual marketing reality.
The many proofs of that include a session earlier this week in which Neil Mohan, YouTube chief product officer announced YouTube would add 360 degree live streaming and an audio equivalent, kicking off with some select parts of the Coachella music festival in Los Angeles this weekend.
Mohan says 360-degree video gives a viewer “an unmatched, immersive experience” and “spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role.” YouTube has otherwise offered 360 degree videos for the last year or so. It's a big growth area.
Dotted around the convention floor are several vendors offering new VR gear, but the industry is still so new, how to refer to common aspects of it still doesn’t exist.
“We have an opportunity to figure out a new language and that’s exciting,” said Bryn Mooser, co-founder of Ryot, who said that right now, if another VR creator was in his shop listening to his editors, he’s sure they wouldn’t know the terms they’re using because they’ve invented them. “I think in the next few months, we’re going to see huge advances in VR,” Mooser said.
YouTube’s role is crucial not just because of Google Cardboard but because of the steady increase in VR videos showing up there. Mooser and others on a VR panel at the NAB show said more examples will create a mass audience. He thinks a lot of VR shooters are still hiding. “People are hoarding content, that’s my main complaint,” he said.
In a blog post, YouTube’s Mohan wrote that YouTube is “working with companies across the industry” and said YouTube willl also make "360-degree live streaming and spatial audio technologies available at all YouTube Space location locations around the globe, so you can take it for a spin.”
But how to use it? The panelists--most of them also social activists--see VR as a powerful way to tell the stories of the downtrodden or victims of tragedies.But videos like concert footage from Coachella may be the way most people first experience VR, which may be why it seems the man-on-the-street view of it seems to be that VR and 360 degree video is interesting but not very vital. In the next year or so, there will be people out there trying to change that opinion.