Watch the Rio Olympics in virtual reality

Watch the Rio Olympics in virtual reality

The upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics will be filmed exclusively for customers with Samsung Gear VR, allowing spectators to watch hours of VR video and live 360 streaming at home. Matthew Martin, Managing Director of Immersive VR, blogs about what’s involved when filming a sporting event live in 360 video and the challenges ahead.

We try to tell clients to see VR as a digital channel in its own right, which should be used alongside their apps and more traditional channels. If you want to fully immerse people in your brand then VR is the best way to do it, and it’s also the most cost effective.

It’s also important to note that 360 video and VR are two different things; VR is more about developing a computer generated environment whereas 360 allows you to be immersed in the environment but in a more passive way.

To film a 360 video at a sporting event it requires you to use multiple rigs because you can’t just stick one camera up high to overlook the entire field. The VR headsets available today make it difficult for customers to see details from afar, which is why multiple cameras are positioned to cover all angles across the stadium.

As the images are being filmed they are live stitched together into a sphere and are then pushed through a computer system to make them live. Just like if you were sitting in the stands, if you turn around at the wrong time, you will miss the action. The benefit and the challenge of watching 360 video means that you dictate where you look and what you will see.

Not everyone can afford to go to Rio for the Olympics but by filming the game in VR and 360 it allows at home spectators to feel as if they are attending an event without the cost and time involved in travelling there.

360 video can also give viewers access that not even people in Rio will get. For example, cameras can follow footballers as they leave the tunnel to walk onto the pitch or place a camera directly behind the 100 metre line.

Challenges the production crew will face

Preparation is key when it’s live because you cannot return to a camera once filming is underway. You also have to judge the surroundings and think about what can be captured. For example, if you put a camera directly behind a goal but in the front row is a line of abusive fans, then you will have to think about ways to mitigate them from ruining the viewer’s experience. The audio is as important as the visuals when filming 360 video.

How will 360 and VR work in reality?

Viewers can watch 360 via their desktop or laptop, or phone by moving the images around. If someone already owns the existing Samsung VR gear they will intuitively know what to do. Companies like Facebook, who own Oculus, have been proactively pushing 360 content, meaning I haven’t met someone in the past few months who has not seen or interacted with this visual format.

I believe VR is an absolutely fantastic technology for events like this and the technology is only getting better and better.

You can follow Matthew Martin, Managing Director of Immersive VR, on Twitter @ImmersiveVR. Don’t forget to follow IoTUK too @IoTUKNews.

Matthew Martin
christiana.courtright70@cde.catapult.org.uk

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