What’s in a Name?

Posted by Alex Rosenfeld on

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.