Facebook feeds users 360-degree video

Users can "look around" a 360-degree video by dragging it from side-to-side or up-and-down with their mouse cursor, or with a finger on a mobile device

As of yesterday, Facebook users will begin seeing 360-degree videos in their News Feeds. The firm says the new video format will take the "immersive content" that people like to see in their News Feeds "a step further." Users will be able to pan around a video as it is playing in a similar way to Google Street View.

Though 360-degree video can be created using multiple camera setups like GoPro's upcoming Odyssey rig, all-in-one cameras like the Ricoh Theta S or Kodak Pixpro SP360-4K offer a simpler and much less expensive way to capture all-around footage. Recorded content can be shared on dedicated portals like Ricoh's theta360.com, but platforms such as YouTube's dedicated 360 video channel and the new Google Street View app offer spherical videographers the potential for bigger viewing audiences.

Now Facebook users can also look around 360 videos posted to News Feeds by dragging a cursor from side-to-side or up-and-down, or with a finger on a touch-enabled a mobile device. When using a smartphone or tablet, it will also be possible to pan around the scene by tilting or turning the device.

Facebook says 360 videos offer a new way of storytelling, or simply allow users to give their friends a better view of the experiences they record. It gives the examples of walking through a small village when traveling or through a festival as occasions that would be well suited to the format. These examples make sense, as they are times when there is no single focal point for the video.

To showcase the technology, Disney has released a 360-degree video for the upcoming Star Wars film. Other launch partner films include shark diving with the Discovery Channel, footage from the set of Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary show, on-the-ground reporting in Afghanistan from VICE, motocross riding in the Idaho desert with with GoPro and LeBron James demonstrating his training routine.

Facebook began rolling out 360 videos to web and Android users yesterday, with iOS support following in the coming months. Users will be able to start uploading their own 360 videos "over the coming days."

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