The race to deliver unique, highly immersive user experiences has never been greater. One medium that is undoubtedly taking off is the capture and delivery of 360º video, which offers the potential to transport the viewer immediately into the live action from a variety of different perspectives. Not only does 360º video deliver a sense of ‘being there’, but by placing 360º cameras on stage at a music festival or directly behind the basket at a basketball game, we can deliver a perspective that would not be possible, even from the most expensive seat in the house.
I don’t see 360º video as an alternative to traditional broadcast, but rather as something to augment the viewing experience. I also no longer think of it solely as a ‘VR experience’ which, to me, implies the use of a head mounted device (HMD). Whilst it undoubtedly makes for a highly immersive experience, live sports and music are often watched with others. For that reason I see most potential in 360º video delivered to tablets and phones on what we call a ‘flat’ player. It’s personalized in that each viewer can choose the camera they want to view and the direction they are looking, but it also allows the viewer to follow the curated action on the main screen and stay sociable!
Of course, I also see the potential for this technology to bring friends who are geographically separated together to share in the experience of a live event. I can imagine an area of the stands at a football match being virtually populated with avatars of my friends with whom I can interact and converse. No doubt, an experience enhanced by a VR headset.
Last year MediaKind was involved in a proof-of-concept event, which saw us collaborate with several partners to enable the world’s first multi-channel, 6K 360º streaming, live from a basketball match in Germany direct to consumers. Click here to watch my initial reaction to the success of our technical project management of this world first demonstration. This proof-of-concept successfully demonstrated our ability to deliver viewport adaptive 360º video broadcasts for live events.
The use of viewport adaptive 360º video streaming primarily allows the delivery of very high resolution 360º views at tolerable bitrates; for example, we deliver 6K x 3K quality video in 10-15 Mbps. Additionally, the encoding of the video in spatially distinct tiles allows us to parallelize the processing and therefore encode any resolution using MediaKind’s HEVC software encoders deployed in the public cloud.
Join me on Thursday April 11 2019 (11.20am-11:40) at #N260, to learn more about various methods of live 360O video delivery and how these methods scale with the number of users and the capability of other mobile devices. I will discuss how tile based encodes can be distributed across multiple encoder instances allowing the use of public cloud platforms – and the future possibilities of deploying end-to-end live tile-based 360º video workflow in the cloud for live events. If you’re visiting NAB Show this year, I hope to see you in Las Vegas!