You have shot some amazing 360º video content, but how will you distribute it to your audience and the different VR headsets? Of course you can upload it to YouTube, VRideo, or even Facebook, which all support 360º video, but traditional video platforms are not always the best option.
Sometimes you want a branded application that supports all of the pro features that make VR even more compelling than just plain 360º video, like support for stereoscopic 3D and spatial audio. But if you are a filmmaker, building apps is probably not your specialty. That’s why we are developing AppFactory, a place where you can easily upload your hi-res videos, artwork and logos, and let us turn them into a branded, multi-platform video application in no-time!
App versus platform
We started the development of our app about a year ago, because we did not want to be bound by a specific platform or headset. We wanted a multi-platform solution that could support all kinds of features that are not possible using an existing distribution pipeline like YouTube, which currently only supports Google Cardboard. An app based on the architecture of a game engine (Unity) is much more versatile than a platform like YouTube will ever be, since it allows us to add custom features and interactive “game-like” elements to the video experience. On top of that we believe that gaming and 360º film will grow closer together, or even merge in the upcoming years.
To get the app working properly took us months of development and testing. Unity is not build to playback video very well and we had to do a lot custom coding to get it working flawlessly. We had to build a complete back-end solution to get our videos pulled of our servers and make them available for downloading in our app. But what we end up with is an app that can support all the features a cinematic VR filmmaker can wish for.
We shoot all of content in stereoscopic 3D, and since no platform supported 360º 3D when we started out, that was the initial incentive to start developing our own custom video player application. We were simply not satisfied with the functionality of existing solutions, they were definitely not ready to support cinematic VR in its full glory, which we define as 360º 3D video with realistic spatial audio.
Spatial audio is one of the most underestimated domains in VR and rather hard to integrate, since there is no standard format for it yet. Audio will typically account for about 30% of the whole VR experience, so you really want to add spatial audio to your videos. That why we built support for ambisonic (B-format) audio into our player.
Besides audio, we have also investigated how to best navigate through menus and even how to navigate through a story, by letting users choose their own route through the story. We even have built-in support for subtitles, as well as eye/head-tracking data so you can optimize your scenes.
Please, no more rendering!
We have spend hours rendering videos in a 4k by 4k resolution. After that, we had to render the same videos in a different resolution and frame rate for each of the various VR platforms. This will typically add several days of frustration and a lot of render time. We thought there must be a better and faster way of doing this. That’s why we set up a custom rendering pipeline so you only have to upload one hi-res video and we then automatically optimize the video for the various headsets!
Not a single line of code
Designing your custom application is easy! All you have to do is upload your logo, thumbnails, preview panoramas and videos, and press submit. That’s it! You will be able to choose from a variety of templates for the menu layout, or even let us design a custom layout. We have thoroughly tested our apps while showing our own content on expo’s and demo events, which allowed us to gather valuable feedback on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to navigation in VR. That’s why we’re confident that we can create an intuitive experience for your audience.
A complete new toolset for content creators
Because our app is build on the architecture of a game engine, you can think of your videos in a completely new way. You can think about adding 3D objects to a scene, letting the viewer choose a story path, making your videos interactive and much more. Because you are not bound to the old linear way of editing your video, you can really engage your viewer in something that is much more than just a video.
We believe VR requires a completely new way of thinking about video; the laws of traditional filmmaking no longer apply and the only limit is your own imagination. Cinematic VR has the potential of really communicating with the viewer and letting them be the director or interact with video in ways not before possible in the history of film.
We are now looking for people or companies that have projects near completion, but are struggling with how to distribute their content. We are launching a closed beta program for our AppFactory soon to get feedback from the community, which will help us improve the product before launching it publicly somewhere in the upcoming months. If you are a 360º filmmaker and want to get early access to our AppFactory, leave your name and email address in the form below:
UPDATE: We have officially launched our AppFactory platform! Click here to start building your 360º video app >>>
Hope to hear from you!