The debate about whether or not 360 videos are considered “real VR” rages on across the internet, but the fact of the matter is that it’s the most accessible and easily digestible form of immersive content out there right now. Any Google Cardboard device, or even just a smartphone without a VR HMD, can view a 360 video. They can be embedded directly on Facebook and other websites and YouTube naively supports them now. Most aren’t 3D these days, but a video that surrounds you is still a lot more engaging than a standard flat display.
Universal Pictures teamed up with 5th Wall Agency to release a Fifty Shades Darker 360-degree video entitled The Masquerade Ball last week, just in time for the film’s release and for Valentine’s Day. You can see the entire video below:
For those unaware, 360 videos are typically created by a series of cameras that simultaneously record footage and then “stitch” the results together to create the surrounding 360 effect seen when completed. All of the crew was removed in post-production, so it really feels like you’re there. This particular production features over 200 live actors and shows what Hollywood-caliber 360 video is capable of. 5th Wall worked with Universal on the actual sets of the film itself and the actual cast, putting this a few levels above smaller 360 video projects.
“There was something about seeing Christian Grey put on a mask in the films teaser trailer that immediately inspired all of us – We thought: “Wait a second! That kind of looks like someone putting on a VR headset,” said Chris Olimpo, Creative Director at 5th Wall, in a prepared statement. “What if we invited all the fans of this film franchise to “put on their mask,” in the form of a VR headset, and step into the film? Our goal was to be incredibly respectful to the mythology of the Fifty Shades trilogy, so that everything that was done, was done to make the audience feel as though the world of Fifty Shades was real. This wasn’t a film set. This was a real place – a place where you attended the Masquerade Ball. That’s where the power of the medium is its most powerful, true immersion.”
When the existence of a Fifty Shades Darker VR experience was first mentioned back before the movie released, our minds started racing as to what it would entail. The series is notoriously well-known for its graphic and gratuitous sex scenes, but you won’t find any of that here. This Masquerade Ball video is extremely elegant and features plenty of tantalizing sights and sounds that can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Fans of the books and films will love the immersive feeling of actually being present in this iconic scene.
While it’s only a minor, toe-dipping excursion into the world of immersive 360 video for Universal, seeing more elaborate and attractive productions such as this should bode well for the industry. So far, this 360 video has been viewed over 860,000 times on YouTube and over 2.8M times on Facebook, but it’s unknown how many of those were from within a VR headset. Likely not many. You can also download the experience on Samsung Gear VR via Oculus Home.
What do you think of this 360 video? Let us know down in the comments below!