What does Vimeo 360 and Facebook 360 means for spatial audio?

If you’ve been itching to create 360 videos (or if you own a 360 camera or a capable smartphone), you can now record and upload your video to two very popular platforms: Facebook and Vimeo. Now, if you just want to watch 360-content, you can do that too.

360 video is an easy-to-access format that is usually captured with an array of static cameras, capturing a scene in the real world, or parts of a scene that are composited together.  360 content has been available through YouTube, Facebook, and both common (eg, Oculus Store) and custom apps (eg, Coachella VR app) for a while now.  Many smartphones can download and play a 360 video through a device like a Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, but isn’t as interactive as other types of VR Content that you might play through an Oculus or Vive HTC.

This technology offers a lower barrier to entry for both creators and consumers. 360-video hardware is a fraction of a price of fully functioning a headset and controllers set that costs starting at $600. Despite this “lower functionality.” 360 video is important, and spatial audio has a role to play in this experience.

360 is a growing method of storytelling, and with that comes an increasing need to have audio to lead viewers through the story and help define the emotion needed for these experiences.

In early March, both Facebook and Vimeo released platforms that support 360 video content. But what’s the difference between the two?

Vimeo 360 is the new home for storytelling

In an effort to move more into the VR and 360 video realm, Vimeo also announced the launch of Vimeo 360. It is a three-in-one platform that consists of a place to upload 360 video content, a resource for 360 video lessons, and platform for curated 360 video content.

“We want all creators to feel empowered, start experimenting with new 360 techniques, and begin sharing insights,” said Vimeo in a statement. “The more we can delve into your wondrous videos, the more we can all find inspiration, and usher in the new standard for incredible storytelling.”

At the moment, Vimeo 360 only supports mono and stereo audio, which are some of the most common audio formats. But for now, those wishing to enjoy spatial audio will have to wait, but there are plans for spatial audio in the future.

Where almost anyone can post 360 video content on Facebook, Vimeo 360 appears to cater towards the more professional. Jamie Pent, charity: water’s in-house video producer, used Vimeo 360 video in a number of her videos. In this video from Vimeo, Pent walks through her project, sharing how immersive technologies help brands and how creates can use 360 video to tell compelling stories.

Back in 2015, Pent teamed up with Here Be Dragons, a production company, to create “The Source.” The illustrates the struggle to find clear water in an Ethiopian village.

Facebook releases its Facebook 360 App

It is no secret: Mark Zuckerberg has supported immersive technology for some time. Just look back to a few years ago when he shelled out $2 billion for the company. His initial promise was to include some of the Oculus Rifts’ technology into Facebook, and Facebook 360 app is him following up on his promise.

The app is powered by Oculus and is designed for Samsung’s Gear VR. It uses the 360 photos and videos that are already on the social media site. According to Facebook, there are “more than 25 million 360 photos and more than 1 million 360 videos posted on Facebook to date”

Unlike Vimeo 360, Facebook 360 allows you to create and publish content with spatial audio. Basically, part of the toolset is the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation binaural spatializer that can take mono, stereo and even ambisonic content and apply spatial processing to achieve 360 soundscapes.  This tool has been available for nearly a year now, but the integration of 3D Audio content to the new Facebook 360 platform represents a huge new platform for 3D Audio professionals.

Some of the cool pieces of 360 video content Facebook has hosted includes this short video Zuckerberg released last summer. In celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th, National Geographic partnered with Oculus team and former President Obama to create a short 360 video on what it is like to be in the park.

The Facebook 360 app for Gear VR is available to download through the Oculus site or the Oculus app on any Gear VR-compatible Samsung device.