180 vs 360 video – choosing the right VR content

180 video - Smiling woman wearing VR heaset.

What’s the difference between 180 video and 360 video?

The answer is probably as straightforward as you’d expect. However, it’s worth a quick VR 101 before we move on to the relative merits of each.

Picture yourself standing in the middle of a virtual circle. With 360 video you can look and move in any direction, including behind you. In most 360 videos, your view is not restricted in any way. You’re free to explore your VR environment as you choose.

180 video -graphic rendering of man facing multiple pathways with protractor overlay indicating various options.

With 180 video, no more looking over your shoulder. For an easy mental picture, cast your mind back to your school days. Imagine standing in the middle on the straight edge of a half-circle protractor. Then imagine that protractor represents your available view. There you have 180 video in a nutshell. Or half a nutshell. Who said those maths lessons would never be relevant in the real world?

Should you go full circle?

Intuitively, you might think that 360 video would be superior to 180. Maybe even twice as good? As with most things in life, though, it isn’t as simple as that.

360 video is perfect for those VR projects in which a user can take the time to explore content at their own pace, and in their own way. Missed something on a virtual city tour? Simply turn around and walk back the way you came.

180 video - man in dark room wearing VR headset, arms holding VR controllers are raised

But content creators need to think carefully about how best to achieve their goals when using VR/XR.

In days of yore, sales reps pitching a product would be told to keep hold of it during a presentation. Letting a customer take your brand-new cola bottle and study it meant you would no longer have their undivided attention.

Here in the future, we can apply the same principle to an immersive learning environment. The learner’s focus must be on the relevant information. In a VR context, this might well mean limiting opportunities to wander. In the case of 360 video, sometimes quite literally.

Control the narrative

As with film and other forms of visual storytelling, immersive learning content creators will often need to control the narrative. That as opposed to letting the learner explore things randomly. 180 video can allow more control over participants’ focus by restricting the available visuals. If we were to get equine, we might say that putting on the virtual blinkers helps to rein things in.

180 video - Man wearing high-vis vest in industrial work setting with VR headset, using hands to point or tap.

Recent developments in interactive VR allow content to “come to life” only when a user looks directly at it. This is of course another way of guiding the experience. An example might be a VR museum. The user may look at an exhibit, at which point the associated information is presented. This vision activated content can work in both 360 and 180 video.

But whatever advancements may come, there will always be a need for linear presentation. It’s more important than ever that we don’t put the medium before the message.

Take a look at our VR offering

Our CREATOR VR software allows users to make interactive VR video content, with no additional hardware or software involved. Easy to navigate, it can be adapted to multiple platforms and devices.

Whether you opt for a 360 or 180 approach, you can deliver scalable and cost-effective VR experiences with Near-Life.

Need to find out more? Get in touch with our team.

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