Using video for social content on Facebook, Instagram, and your brand website is required in 2020. In recent years, 360° photo and video have emerged as a new way to deliver engaging content to viewers — and they’re easier to achieve than ever.
As we know, our current norm has restricted visiting physical locations. Naturally, businesses of all industries have moved to bolster their online presence in order to support themselves. As a result, online sales are booming. With the help of 360° photographs, businesses can create a new way to keep customers connected. And the time is now!
What are 360° photos and how do they work?
A 360° photograph is a controllable panoramic image that simulates being in the shoes of the photographer. The viewer can click left, right, up or down, and can sometimes even zoom in to experience the actual physical space.
A 360° camera utilizes dual lenses to capture two images and automatically stitches them together in-camera or via software. Professional photographers often opt to use one of the many 360° cameras. However, there are more consumer-friendly options for taking 360° photos using a mobile or desktop app that allows you to either take a wide landscape image and stitch together several individual photographs. This is similar to how the Apple iPhone "panorama" feature works!
What we recommend
At Lure, we have begun to optimize 360° photography for clients using the affordable and simple Ricoh Theta 360° camera. The camera uses dual high-resolution fish eye lenses mounted on opposite sides of the body of the camera to take photographs.
Advantages of the Ricoh Theta 360° Camera
The Theta 360° camera is easy to use! Other panorama cameras require finding the nodal point and being able to rotate the camera around it. The Theta allows you to push a single button through the smartphone app without having to worry much about angles and camera settings.
The Theta takes shots at a single moment in time. This is helpful when photographing moving elements.
The near-instant review is another important advantage. Being able to review photos without having to stitch them together is a feature some other 360° cameras lack, and is helpful to make sure you’re capturing the scenes in the proper way.
Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have adopted 360° photos and videos for some time now. Facebook has even allowed users to add 360° photos and videos to their profile pictures. In addition, it is quite easy to embed 360° photos straight into your website. All major web browsers can support 360° photos, and, if done correctly, they can also work for mobile and tablet users. In other words, 360° photo features are integrated almost everywhere, no special coding required.
360° with Google Tour Creator
Google Tour Creator is a tool designed to help create 360° virtual tours right form your computer. Originally designed for students and teachers, the program allows users to create their own 360° tour using imagery from Google’s Street View or by uploading their own 360° photos. Photos can be uploaded from many sources, the most common being a 360° camera. The Ricoh Theta 360° camera mentioned above is also compatible with the Tour Creator software. If you do not have a 360° camera, there are many mobile app options. Typically the app will have you turn around in a circle while taking a series of photos. Using Tour Creator also allows you to edit aspects of the 360° photo and video including adding text, audio, image overlays, and more. The Google Tour creator is free and easy to use and allows everybody to get started building immersive 360° tours.
The Met 360° Project
In 2017 the Met Museum of New York created an award-winning series of six short videos highlighting some of the museum's most iconic spaces. Using 360° video the series was able to generate more than 11 million views. Although the series launched in 2017, the 360° videos have seen a large spike in viewership due to COVID-19. The digital team reported a 4,106% growth in streaming viewership along with Youtube video views up 150%. The Met Museum is one of the many museums and cultural exhibitions to see a rise in online usage in recent months.
How we used 360° at Midland School
Midland School, a college preparatory boarding school, reached out to Lure to create 360° photographs for their website and social media. Because of Midland’s beautiful 2,800 acre campus that neighbors the Los Padres National Forest, the largest national forest in the state, and is also adjacent to the San Rafael Wilderness Area, it is uniquely positioned to set their campus as part of the classroom. Prospecting students and parents typically visit campus to understand how it creates a sense of place for their high school education and would have missed out on the opportunity if it weren't for 360° photographs.
Due to the quick actions of their admissions team with Lure, we were able to create a 360° photo virtual tour to drive applications to the place-based and experiential boarding school and offer a version of the tour from a safe distance. With international applications on the rise, the 360° tour also offers a unique look into the school for those who are interested and want to find out more without traveling, making it an evergreen investment for Midland School. Cierra Ensign, Midland's Director of Admissions, says:
"Lure has been an incredible partner for the last 6 years. While our main focus has always been videography, the current climate has required us to adapt and create new ideas in a moment's notice to allow for families to still have a genuine Midland experience, even when remote. Lure has brought our ideas to life in ways better than we could have imagined. Even when we ask for help in an area they haven't quite entered (like our 360 tour), they do the research, find the best product, and create a spectacular end result that is completely tailored to our needs and the ethos of our school. I couldn't imagine our marketing team without them."
With the shift to online, many businesses require an engaging way to stay connected to their customers. Now is truly the best time to utilize 360° photos and videos to highlight your space in a new way. This will engage your audience and allow them to stay connected to your business in a safe way!
Interested in taking 360° photos for your business? Let us help you get started! Give us a call at 323.596.0606 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss your specific needs.