A common misconception I often here is when someone asks me about creating a 360 video for their small business. Now don’t get me wrong, there IS such a thing as a 360 video (we’ll get to that in a minute), but most of the time, it’s just the client using the wrong terminology. So I’m here to clear the air and help you sound more like a geek than you ever thought possible!

You see, 360 virtual tour companies build their virtual tours using a camera.  If they are a professional company they will use a DSLR camera. Now I know what you’re thinking- You’re thinking that those cameras can also shoot video.  Yes, this is true, but to create a 360 virtual tour we actually take pictures!  Ahhhhh

Ever heard of panoramas?  They are ever so popular nowadays and easily to create thanks to smart phones and all the new photography apps out there.  When we create a virtual tour, we are essentially creating a panorama times 4:

  1. That’s one facing North
  2. One facing East
  3. One facing South
  4. One facing West

So essentially, we stand in the same place and take 4 panoramic shots, going in a clockwise manner (usually). Those 4 panoramic shots (which are shot using a fish-eye lens, btw) are then taken back home to the lab and the are “stitched” together- creating a full 360 photo.

Good Reason for the 360 Video Confusion

I can totally understand why someone would call it a video.  If you’re navigating through an actual virtual tour, you are “moving” from one area to another. That movement could give the appearance that the tour is an actual video, but it’s not.  You are basically skipping from one 360 panorama to the next one. The difference here is that you are given arrows (otherwise known as “chevrons”) to choose which way you want to go.  A video would not give you that option.  In a video, you are just going wherever the video was filmed.  Well sort of.  With the ever changing 360 technology, 360 video is now a thing.  Read on.

So what’s the Proper Terminology Then?

The best way to describe a virtual tour could be any of the following:

  1. A virtual tour
  2. A 360 virtual tour
  3. A 360 tour

But Wait!  360 Videos Actually Do Exist!

So you’re not entirely wrong when you say you want a 360 video, it’s just that most of the time people are really referring to a 360 virtual tour.   So what is a 360 video?  Well, you are still at the mercy of the film-maker and whichever direction they want to shoot the video.  The difference now is that you can actually see all around you in 360 degrees while the video is playing.  In other words, you are not able to dictate to move forward, backwards, left or right.  You are however, able to see 360 around the camera at any point in time.

What Are 360 Videos Good For?

Great question!  Right now, 360 videos are opening up a world of opportunities, only limited by the videographer’s imagination. In fact, Youtube has an entire section of 360 videos with libraries and libraries of videos.  With the help of Virtual Tour goggles, people are getting real creative with their videos and are able to tell great stories, or take you to places you’ve only imagined.  And this is only the beginning to 360 technology!

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