Going Upscale: Vrideo Now Live on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on

Vrideo is excited to announce the launch of our native apps for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.  We’ve gotten a great response to our Samsung Gear VR app, launched this past September, and are now extending our native VR experience to the newly launched headsets from Oculus and HTC.  As with our Gear VR app, our full library of content is available on the Rift and Vive.  In addition, we support playback up to 4K in our new apps.

The launch of these apps further establishes Vrideo as the most expansive immersive video platform, allowing users to share and stream content on more devices than any other service.  For those who don’t yet own a VR headset…what are you waiting for?!?  But also, as a reminder, you can download our native mobile apps for Android phones and iPhones, and can of course access Vrideo on the web.  Both of our native mobile apps are fully compatible with Google Cardboard, as well.

Our Oculus Rift app can be downloaded for free on the Oculus Store.  Our HTC Vive app can be downloaded for free on Steam.  Lucky enough to have either or both headsets?  Let us know what you think!

Categories: General

Launch Videos in Your Samsung Gear VR from Your Phone

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on

One of the great features of our native mobile apps for Android and iOS is the ability to launch a video in “VR mode” for viewing in mobile-lite VR headsets like Google Cardboard.  We’re excited to now offer similar functionality for the Samsung Gear VR.

Have a Gear VR and, presumably, a Gear VR compatible phone?  Make sure you have the latest versions of our Android app and Gear VR app installed.  Once you’ve done so, every video in the Android app will now have a “GR” button.  Whenever you find a video in the Android app that you’d like to watch in your Gear VR, simply tap the “GR” button and, once prompted, snap your phone in your Gear VR.  Within seconds, you’ll be enjoying the video in the full glory of your headset.

 

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While working on this, we separately and additionally enhanced our Google Cardboard functionality on both of our mobile apps.  You can now select your specific Google Cardboard viewer before watching videos in VR mode, and thus ensure an optimal viewing experience.  (Note that for users with a Gear VR, the “VR mode” button will now appear with a “CB” in order to differentiate between launching a video in Cardboard and launching it in the Gear VR.)  Once again, you’ll want to make sure you’ve downloaded the latest version of our Android app and/or iPhone app to access this new functionality.

 

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We hope you enjoy these new features.  As always, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Categories: General

Introducing the Vrideo Forums

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on

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My teammates and I have been long-time fans of and participants in the various online forums for virtual reality and immersive video, ranging from the Oculus subreddit on Reddit to the 360 Video Professionals group on Facebook. However, when it comes to serious ongoing discussion about the nitty-gritty of immersive video production, we’ve found these forums somewhat lacking, either because their discussion is too general or ephemeral, or because they’re missing the robust features and structure needed to make a forum useful. Such a forum, we felt, would be invaluable in a community where everyone is effectively starting from scratch, bursting with questions, and walking away from each shoot or editing sessions with new learnings to share.

With that in mind, our Lead Web Developer, Sean, took it upon himself to leverage internet forum software phpBB and build out the Vrideo Forums, a discussion forum for all topics related to immersive video production. The boards currently include the following sections and forums…

Immersive video
* General Discussion. Discuss anything related to immersive video that isn’t specific enough for one of the forums below.
* Cameras. Discuss panoramic cameras and shooting, including techniques and best practices.
* Audio. Discuss audio gear and recording, including techniques and best practices.
* Syncing, Stitching, & Editing. Discuss syncing, stitching, and editing software and methods.
* Animated Content. Discuss creating animated immersive video.
* Distribution & Monetization. Discuss the distribution and monetization of immersive video.
* VR Headsets. Discuss virtual reality headsets, as well as any other devices capable of playing immersive video.

Creators
* Content Ideas. Share and get feedback on your ideas for immersive video content.
* Collaboration. Find collaborators for your immersive video projects.
* Showcase. Share and get feedback on your in-progress or finalized immersive video productions.

Marketplace
* Gear. Buy and sell immersive video gear.
* Services. Seek and offer immersive video production and post-production, e.g. stitching, services.

One thing we want to make sure to emphasize is that, while we’re hosting and supporting the Vrideo Forums (thus the name!), these discussion boards are first and foremost about immersive video production. In fact, our forum moderators include a couple leading figures from the immersive video community who join us from outside of Vrideo, Matt Rowell from 360 Labs and Gavin Farrell from Panogs.

As you’ll notice, the forums, having just launched, are a blank slate right now. It won’t happen overnight, but we’re excited for the community that we hope will gradually take form here. Please join us and introduce yourself!

Categories: General

A Very App-y Day at Vrideo: Launching on the Samsung Gear VR, Android Phones, and iPhones

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on

At Vrideo, it’s our goal to make immersive video as accessible as possible, which means ensuring that our platform plays friendly across the universe of VR and non-VR devices.  Our website, which launched in beta in March, was a natural starting point in this endeavor, especially given the innate openness of the web and the expanding ability for web browsers to power VR experiences.  However, we knew all along that in order to offer users the best possible experiences on mobile devices and the host of VR headsets coming to market, we’d need to extend our platform beyond the web.

With that in mind, we’re excited to announce today not one, not two, but three new apps from Vrideo, including a native VR app for the Samsung Gear VR, native mobile app for Android phones, and native mobile app for iPhones.  Here’s some further detail on these three new additions to our platform…

  • Samsung Gear VR.  Our first-ever native VR app brings our entire library of content and pretty much all of the features and functionality of our website, besides the uploading of videos themselves, to VR.  Indeed, we believe our app is one of the first to port several key social, content discovery, and account management features to VR.  The app also sports functionality exclusive to VR, perhaps most notably the ability to locally cache videos for smooth playback with limited or no internet connection.  Our app, which Samsung Gear VR owners can download today on the Oculus Store, will also be available on forthcoming headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PlayStation VR, among others.
  • Android and iPhone.  Our Android app, now available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, and iPhone app, launching in the coming weeks on the Apple App Store, allow viewers to enjoy immersive video straight from their phones, with or without a headset.  Users can look around a video by tilting and panning their phones or by “dragging” the video with their finger.  Videos can also be launched in “VR mode” for viewing with Google Cardboard and other mobile-lite VR headsets.

Finally, as evidence that we’re still very much invested in our web presence, we’re also today unveiling a major homepage redesign, giving users easy access to not only our platform’s trending videos, but also their subscription feed activity, featured categories and channels, and the most recent uploads to Vrideo.

These launches are the culmination of six month of hard work for our team, first and foremost our engineers and designers, who like me have been working so much they barely noticed that the summer just passed us by.  (This is admittedly easier to swallow when your company is based in Santa Monica, where it’s essentially summer year round!)  Having a “full” product suite in place across the web, mobile, and VR, it in many ways feels like we’ve finally graduated from beta.

With that said, we have no intention of slowing down.  Our mobile apps are very much v0.5’s, and there are several additional features we’re already hard at work on.  The Gear VR, as mentioned above, is the first of many VR headsets we’ll be supporting natively.  And all around us, the pace of innovation related to immersive video is only quickening, with a growing community of folks just as driven as we are to see this new medium realize its full potential.  There’s no stopping now.

Categories: General

Kaleidoscope: The World’s First-Ever VR Film Festival, Presented by Vrideo

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on
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At the VRLA Spring Expo earlier this year, Karl Krantz, the Founder of SVVR, was thoughtful enough to introduce me to René Pinnell, Founder & CEO of VR agency Kaleidoscope. Similar to how Vrideo had launched our Vrideo Meetup events here in Los Angeles, René had spearheaded the VR Cinema Meetup in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, René and I hit it off and continued our conversations beyond that day at VRLA. We both shared a vision for bringing together and supporting the emerging community of immersive video producers. It was only natural for us to look for an opportunity to collaborate.

That opportunity arrived earlier this summer, when René excitedly contacted me regarding a ten-city VR film festival he was looking to get off the ground. Within minutes of his walking me through his ambitious plans, I knew that I wanted Vrideo to be involved in a major way. A few days later, we formally partnered with René and Kaleidoscope, helping to make the first-ever VR film festival a reality.

Fast forward a couple months, and we’ve already completed the first leg of the tour, which took us through Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. The events have gone off without a hitch, much thanks to René; his amazing wife, Selena; and the great teams of volunteers we’ve had in each city. Not even wildfires filling the Portland skies with ashes or violent storms causing a citywide power outage in Vancouver could derail us!

This is what a VR film festival looks like. Photo by Kristal Passy.
This is what a VR film festival looks like. Photo by Kristal Passy.

The tour highlights the work of roughly 20 exceptional filmmakers who are defining the language of this new medium. Each date features talks with a rotating cast of these filmmakers. We have an absurd number of Gear VR headsets on hand, generously donated by Samsung, allowing attendees to experience the work of all of the festival’s auteurs. Also present are fellow sponsors AltspaceVR and Condition One, and yours truly, Vrideo, showing off the latest and greatest products that we’ve all been working on. The tour itself has garnered national coverage from Variety, Wired, and The New York Times, among other publications.

We’re currently gearing up for the rest of the festival – San Francisco (tomorrow!), Los Angeles (the first night of Oculus Connect), Boston, Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Austin. Many of these dates are almost – if not already – sold out, so we encourage folks to get their tickets before it’s too late. Along with other members of the Vrideo team, Kuangwei and I will be in attendance for all the remaining dates. Please come by and say hi!

Finally, if you can’t make it in person, be sure check out the portal we just launched for the film festival, featuring several of the festival’s films, with more on the way.

VR is Love
VR is Love
Categories: General

What’s in a Name?

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on
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Panoramic videography has been around awhile, but with the emergence (or revival, depending on how old you are!) of virtual reality, it’s poised to become a huge market in its own right.  There are still, of course, plenty of challenges to be worked out – filming scripted content, establishing standards for audio capture, getting rid of those pesky seams, etc..  One challenge that lingers, and that should, in theory, be easily solvable, is settling on a name for this new medium and its market.

Ask practitioners in this medium what they call their product, and they’re each likely to give you a different answer.  Which is a problem.  How are we to promote this new format to mainstream audiences and potential backers if we don’t have a consistent name for it?  It’s with that in mind that I propose getting behind the name “immersive video.”

Why “immersive video”? Let me first explain why I think some of the other commonly used names fall short…

 

  • 360° video or Spherical video.  Similar to “immersive video,” but misleading as there are many great videos in the field that don’t span a full 360° and aren’t fully spherical.  Similarly, the term “360°” sometimes leads to confusion as to whether a video will be fully spherical or just, say, cylindrical.
  • 3D video.  As those of us in the industry know, many if not most videos being produced right now are not 3D.  While this will undoubtedly change as an increasing number of well-funded cameras and software companies tackle stereoscopic capture, I believe monoscopic videos will remain prevalent.  Besides this, there are differing opinions around what qualifies as 3D.  And who wants to be mis-associated with the questionable success that was 3D television?
  • VR video.  Sells our field short, in my opinion, as one of the advantages of our medium is that it can be experienced on many screens beyond VR headsets, including mobile phones and desktop computers.  (With that said, I do agree with the underlying suggestion that immersive video is best experienced in VR.)
  • Vrideos.  As flattering as it would be to have this new medium adopt the name of our company, this suffers from the same problem as “VR video.”

 

That brings us to “immersive video,” which, in my opinion, suffers from none of the problems touched on above, while conveying what makes the format most unique: by function of being able to look around, viewers find themselves immersed in the scene in a way not possible with any medium that has come before.

For these reasons, I propose to the community pioneering this new format that we adopt the name “immersive video.”  But most importantly, let’s at least agree on a name, whether or not “immersive video,” as it’s a big first step towards pushing this medium and its market to their full potential.

One last thing!  How should we refer to video as we previously knew it?  My teammates and I have come to refer to traditional video as “framed video.”  This started as a joke, but the name has stuck, perhaps because it perfectly captures what we’ve broken through to arrive at this exciting new era of filmed content.  Just as “talkies” once broke through the silence, we are breaking through the frame.

Categories: General