Have you ever watched a video and wondered what was happening off-camera? Wonder no more. YellowBird, a media company in the Netherlands, has developed an amazing 360° video process that allows users to rotate the point of view while they are watching. You don’t simply watch through the eyes of the videographer, you see everything that is happening around them. It’s almost like being inside a video game where you can control where your character is looking. The technology starts with a special camera that provides a spherical recording of the area in an ultra high definition format: 3500×1750 at 25 frames per second. From that footage YellowBird can create some truly spectacular videos. Check out the YellowBird experience in the clips below. These aren’t really videos anymore, are they? They’re more like interactive visual environments.
Ever since The Matrix, the world’s been fascinated with the way that 360° cameras can change media. I’ve seen many still photos shot with panoramic setups, and even a few interactive visual spaces like the ones YellowBird creates. What the Dutch company seems to be pioneering, however, is a full service business that brings that content to the web effortlessly. As you can see below, YellowBird’s videos utilize Flash and are easily embedded from their host site.
YellowBird videos are now compatible with YouTube as well, and you should really check out the zombie-rap video that they shot for DoritosUK (embedding is not enabled unfortunately).
Life-logging and extreme sports junkies may be drooling over YellowBird’s 360° camera setup, but the company doesn’t seem to be selling them at the moment. YellowBird’s ‘full service’ approach apparently means that they handle all aspects of production from filming to processing to hosting. That may be for the best. The YellowBird camera is actually capturing footage in several directions, and special processing is required to stitch these images together to get the explorable 360° environment you see in the videos. During processing, the company can also enrich the media with clickable icons and linked images. That’s very internet friendly and further elevates the YellowBird concept from simply a panoramic video to a more interesting visual space that will keep an audience coming back to see and learn more. For those viewers who just don’t want the interactive experience, they merely have to leave the screen alone and it provides a traditional stationary video. Something for everyone.
Despite YellowBird’s exclusivity with their technology and production process, I think we’re seeing a type of media that could become fairly ubiquitous in niche markets. When the Dutch company was developing their concept, Flash 9 and other innovations didn’t even exist yet. Who knows where video capture and processing will be in a few more years. Stitching the different video feeds from the YellowBird camera together will one day be easily handled at home (actually, considering some of the photo stitch software already on the market, this may be possible now). There’s no reason why YellowBird’s technology couldn’t one day be available for everyone and in small portable devices. It could be used for extreme sports as we’ve seen in the video. As I mentioned before, that will probably lead to a more general adoption for life-logging. Or user-controllable 360° video could simply become a great way for companies to sell their products. Real estate, soap-operas, sports – there are dozens of obvious applications. YellowBird already has served many corporate clients looking to beef up their media presentations. That could extend until it became an industry standard, or it could be adopted for personal videography. Either way, YellowBird’s concept is something I think we’ll see more of. It’s simply too cool to miss.
[image credits: YellowBird]