VR and 360° video for impact. Hype or not?

In the early days, Virtual Reality was something only gamers got excited about.
They were the first to put on goggles and step into a virtual game world, while glued to their play stations.
But in 2015, everything changed.

UNICEF launched a 360° documentary film about life in a refugee camp, ‘Clouds over Sidra’, and it had people crying behind their goggles. Viewers felt they’d experienced something real, not just watched a film. It drove up donations and got a lot of media attention.
Suddenly, everyone in the field of social and sustainable development wanted a piece of this new technology. This was a tool that could bring a foreign reality closer to home and get the public on board. 360° Video was the new empathy machine.
Needless to say expectations were high. 360° video productions skyrocketed and production companies sprang up everywhere.
Then reality struck; productions were costly, the technology wasn’t perfect, most people didn’t have goggles and storytelling was a challenge.

Had it all been a hype?
Yes and no.

In the frenzy after Clouds over Sidra the main focus was on the new technology, but technology alone is never enough to set people in motion or create impact.

Storytelling is key and you also need to think about who, how and where people watch your film, especially when it comes to 360 ° video.
However, now the dust has settled, it’s clear that 360° video is here to stay. When used in the right way it can and will create impact. It’s an effective tool for offline fundraising at conferences, meetings or even for street marketing, where viewers can immediately take action after watching a video. To raise awareness and share in-depth stories online platforms are preferred. It has become standard alongside regular video, you can watch it on YouTube or Facebook, even without goggles. Mayor news platforms like The New York Times, Al Jazeera and the Guardian, use it to tell stories from all corners of the world. It stands out from regular video and tells the story from ‘all sides’, literally.
360° video has become more accessible, production costs are down, and with improved image and sound recordings, the immersive quality of 360° video has increased. Still, nothing beats a good story. Technology will only get you that far. At Makmende we are experts in storytelling and we are experienced in storytelling in 360. So, what is it you want to communicate?

Watch the teaser for a 360 film project we filmed in Jordan for CARE:  Walk in her shoes

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