360-degree content creation. What's the trick?

2016 will be known as the year when "surroundies" (360 selfies), VR/AR, and 360-degree videos took off.

As content marketer, I am interested in how 360-degree video will gain traction in storytelling. The news agency Associated Press is one of the first ones to adopt news and storytelling through 360 video. With every video they put out to the audience, they are learning the mysterious and not yet standardized production workflow and looking for ways to improve and speed up the making of 360 content. The quality of the videos is still mediocre, as you can see in the one below, but it will improve as the technology advances.

Isn't it great to be transported to the other part of the world and be able to look around? Want it or not, but 360-degree storytelling is coming to our lives fast with Facebook's 360 video, with YouTube supporting the viewing of 360 content, with consumer 360 cameras available at a reasonable cost for those early adopters who want to tap into showing the world around themselves.

Gone are the days when you point and shoot and don't have to worry about the background behind the camera. That's how it usually looks in a current video production set up.

The viewers don't normally see behind the scenes, and that's why such footage is always fun to watch because we get to peek into the process of movie/video making.

How do you tell a story in 360-degree video so that the viewers stay focused?

The key is to tell the story so that it feels effortless to the eyes and the ears of the viewer. I recently watched an amazing 6 minute documentary that's been shot by Hiverlab in 360-degrees. They are immersive 360 content creators out of Singapore. Besides that it was beautifully filmed under the water with tons to see around, the narrative was not distracting but rather complementing the visuals.

The documentary accomplished the mission of engaging the viewer until the end. I didn't feel like I was losing the story thread while I was looking around with a Samsung's headset on my head.

Once I finished watching the movie, I felt like I was there myself, experiencing what the the main characters were feeling, relating to their pains and happiness and understanding their story. I thought to myself:

"Wow, this is how you tell the 360 story so that the viewer not only sees it, but also hears it. I want to master that!"

I talked with Ender Jiang, the founder of Hiverlab, before the viewing session at MunchnLearn Meetup and asked him a couple of questions about challenges in creating 360-degree content and how brands should think about utilizing such storytelling. Here's what he had to say:

I strongly believe that storytelling in a 360-degree video is something that visual content creators will need to master and not everyone will be successful nor will this approach be applicable in every marketing strategy. There is no template just yet how to approach it. Everything is still just trial and error. Understanding how viewers consume the content in this medium, will also help advance storytelling.

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