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New Production Realities: Challenges in Creating and Distributing VR Content

To use the full capabilities of VR headsets, you’ll want to create and distribute 180° and 360° VR video.

Consumers are leaning into virtual reality (VR), which unlocks the opportunity to create 360° video content and distribute it, along with your existing 2D video content, to VR headsets. As consumer uptake of VR headsets grows from the low millions today to the hundreds of millions that analysts are predicting by 2025, the opportunity will only get bigger.

If you’re in the business of creating and distributing content, the momentum behind video viewing in mobile VR headsets may inspire you to ask questions like, What are the challenges in creating 360° VR video content and distributing all my video content to VR headsets? And what are the best ways to address these challenges?

Capturing High-Quality Spherical Video

To use the full capabilities of VR headsets, you’ll want to create and distribute 180° and 360° VR video. Of course, you can also repurpose existing 2D video assets in virtual cinema applications. However, adding some unique 180° and 360° VR video to your 2D library of existing assets can help attract audiences to your VR app over others. For this, you’ll need camera gear that’s capable of capturing high-quality spherical video.

Nokia Ozo

You can choose one of the following three leading options for capturing high-quality spherical video. You can use Nokia Ozo to capture high-resolution stereoscopic 360° video. It’s one device with eight video sensors rather than a multicamera rig, which gets multiple cameras working together.

Alternatively, you can also use one of two recommended multicamera platforms: Google’s multicamera platform specification, Google Jump, or Facebook’s multicamera platform specification, Facebook Surround. With Google Jump, companies like GoPro are making it easy to assemble a compatible multicamera rig. For instance, GoPro Odyssey is a multicamera rig that leverages Google Jump to get 16 HERO4 camera modules working together as one.

Stitching High-Quality Spherical Video into 2D or 3D 360° VR Video Files

It’s not enough to just capture high-quality spherical video with multiple video sensors or multiple cameras. The footage that is captured needs to be stitched together. For 2D 360° VR video, the footage needs to be stitched and mapped onto a sphere. For 3D 360° VR video, the footage needs to be stitched and mapped onto two spheres: one for each eye that looks into the VR headset.

GoPro Odyssey, ready for Google Jump

If you follow the recommendation for capturing high-quality spherical video, stitching will be relatively easy because each of the recommended cameras has dedicated software for stitching that’s optimized for the specific camera platform.

Choosing What Formats and 3D Geometry to Use for Archival and Distribution

Standards are still evolving in 360° VR video, which can complicate your choice of file types for things like archival and distribution. Beyond video formats and codecs, there are important choices to make, like the geometry of 360° VR video. Do you choose equirectangular projections? Pyramidal projections? Cubemaps?

For archival, we recommend storing the highest possible resolution, equirectangular projection in a mezzanine video format. With all your 360° VR videos in this archival format, you can convert them at the time of distribution to whatever geometry and whatever file types make the most sense. For example, if you’re uploading to Facebook, they will accept a high-resolution equirectangular projection and convert it on their end to their preferred format and geometry.

Protecting Content and Enabling Business Models

Facebook Surround rig

There are two reasons to provide content protection in VR apps. First of all, content protection capabilities in VR apps can enable business models such as rental content or subscription content. Second, when delivering licensed content to any app, including VR apps, the TV and movie studios tend to have very strict content protection requirements that must be honored. If your VR app includes content protection, you can honor these requirements.

At the moment, virtual cinema apps need content protection to both enable business models and meet the content protection requirements of studios. In contrast, 360° VR video apps may only need content protection to enable business models because content owners’ requirements for protecting 360° VR video tend to be less restrictive. For both virtual cinema and 360° VR video apps, Adobe Primetime’s multi-DRM solution called Adobe Primetime DRM, powered by ExpressPlay, will stay current with the native DRM systems that each VR headset chooses to adopt.

To see more from the Adobe Primetime blog and to read the white paper “Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality,” go here.