Just in time for Santa’s big night, Google Spotlight Stories gives you a 360-degree view of the big man in action.
Special Delivery, an original short film from the Academy Award-winning studio behind Wallace and Gromit – Aardman Animations – is available on YouTube and can be viewed in 360 degrees on Google Cardboard or Gear VR using the Samsung Internet browser app.
The short story follows a caretaker on his journey to find whatever is responsible for the sounds on the roof. He narrowly misses Santa as he goes in and out of colorful apartments, delivering packages to the sleeping people inside. There is plenty to see in this Pink Panther-style Christmas experience and it’s definitely worth a viewing or two.
Special Delivery would best be viewed in a swivel chair or standing, since something different can be seen in most of the windows surrounding the viewer, like a snoring old man sitting in his chair and a little boy dreaming of a new bicycle, which Santa delivers later in the story.
A Google blog post says Special Delivery should be viewed multiple times to view the “10 subplots” and “60+ moments where you can decide to follow the story in different ways.” I viewed it twice and there is something different to see every direction you look. For the finale, looking straight ahead concludes the story of the caretaker, while looking up follows Santa to his sleigh.
Right now most 360-degree videos aren’t very interactive, but Special Delivery is trying to change that by unlocking different paths through the story along with easter eggs based on where you look. However, according to the description for the video, full interactivity is only optimized on these devices:
Nexus 5, 6; Moto X Gen 1st, 2nd; Moto G Gen 1st, 2nd; Droid Ultra, Turbo, Maxx; Samsung Galaxy S5; Samsung Galaxy Note 3, 4, Edge; LG G2, G3; Sony Xperia, Z2, Z3, Z3 Compact; HTC One M7, M8; Nexus 7 (2013); Nexus 10; Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
A variety of content creators and technology companies are trying to advance 360-degree videos. Littlstar and WEVR, for example, are working to branch stories, bringing choose-your-own-VR adventures closer to reality. This week Littlstar released the first 360-degree video app for the Apple TV.
Special Delivery is a charming animated tale that makes excellent use of mobile VR headsets no matter if the full interactivity is unlocked or not. It’s a perfect little story to pass around on Christmas.