What’s the Difference Between 360 Video and VR


Quite a bit, it turns out. We’ve been getting this question a lot lately, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to share our insights into the key differences. I sat down with Daniel Fletcher, Loma’s Director of Media Operations and All Things VR’ to discuss.

We’ve been having a BLAST working on 360 video projects RECENTLY. I was hoping you could shed some light on some of the key differences BETWEEN 360 Video and VR.  Let’s begin with the creative process.

Perfect place to start. The foundational platform of VR is a computer-generated world–just like a video game where those worlds are modeled in 3D, and then you’re exploring a virtual reality space. 360 Video, on the other hand, uses a camera to shoot and then “map” a physical environment. Basically, 360 Video is camera-based reality, while VR is a computer-generated world.

The way a viewer watches the two also differs, yes?

Definitely. With VR, the viewer is in an immersive world, meaning they are in control of the viewing perspective..  With 360 Video, the view is always from the camera’s perspective–which is, of course, controlled by the filmmaker. The viewer can decide which part of the 360 image to watch at any given moment, but can’t choose the perspective.

How does the NARRATIVE timeline work?

With VR, the story can progress through a series of events, or experiences can be simply be a single, existing world to be explored by the user. 360 video progresses on a timeline created by the filmmaker’s camera movements–so, while the viewer can choose to view any part of the 360 vista, the filmmaker is driving the tour bus.

Can everyone view VR and 360?  WHAT’S IT REQUIRE?

360 video is much more accessible to the average consumer. It plays on most mobile devices, tablets, laptops–in fact, pretty much any device with YouTube or Facebook can play 360 video. However, a full VR experience requires a VR headset, which must be tethered to a powerful computer.  It’s much more resource-intensive (cha-ching). Thus, much more limited in terms of audience exposure to the format.

Story telling is incredibly important in any video.  How does it work with VR versus 360?

Ah, there’s the challenge. In fact, it’s the number one challenge for creative content developers and directors in this medium. 360 video dramatically changes traditional visual storytelling…how it’s captured, experienced and even its capabilities. It puts a premium on powerful environments—360 degree views of places and/or events—and replaces the rigid rectangular viewing screen we’re accustomed to with a dynamic interactive experience.  The director controls the physical location of the 360 camera, but the viewer is in control of the direction and perspective they choose to see.  Just like at a football game, the viewer can turn their head to watch players on the sideline, gaze up into the stadium or watch the actual game on the field. This resulting shift in control of what an audience can see on screen has created a new dynamic—more opportunities (and challenges) for motion-picture storytellers.

In VR, the art of storytelling is more established–very similar to what’s been used for decades in video gaming. They’ve been successfully creating 3D experiences in the gaming industry for over 20 years, but VR has expanded that platform drastically.  A 3D world is created so a player is free to explore and interact with computer controlled characters and events which can be scripted into a narrative or simulation. The dramatic immersion and sense of presence felt by players are new storytelling tools in the field of VR.

Is traditional video on the endangered format list?

Not yet. VR and 360 Video expands the artist’s palette so to speak, but the jury’s still out on their respective roles and value propositions relative to traditional formats. New uses, styles and studies for them are being created every day. That’s what makes this such a fun business, yes?

And there you have it–the key differences between VR and 360 Video.  Reach out to us if we can answer any questions, or help you with any 360 video and VR needs.  It’s an exciting time to be working in the video industry!

Interviewed by Amy Gomoll, VP of Strategic Services, Loma Media