Google launched a new 180-degree VR format, plus cameras for it

Google is launching a new, more limited cinematic VR format that it hopes will be almost as accessible as regular YouTube videos. It’s called VR180, a collaboration between YouTube and Google’s Daydream VR division. And it’ll be produced with a new line of cameras from Yi, Lenovo, and LG, as well as other partners who meet VR180 certification standards.
 
As the name suggests, VR180 videos don’t stretch all the way around a viewer in VR. They’re supposed to be immersive if you’re facing forward, but you can’t turn and glance behind you. Outside VR, they’ll appear as traditional flat videos, but you can watch them in 3D virtual reality through the YouTube app with a Google Cardboard, Daydream, or PlayStation VR headset.
VR180 GIF
Creators can shoot the videos using any camera with a VR180 certification. Google’s Daydream team is working with the three companies above, and the first of their VR180 products are supposed to launch this winter, at roughly the same price as a point-and-shoot camera. So far, the only image we’ve seen is the one above, a line drawing of Lenovo’s design. It appears to have two wide-angle lenses that can shoot stereoscopic video, and it’s a far cry from the expensive alien orbs that we often see in VR film shoots.

YouTube videographers are supposed to be able to shoot the way they would with any other camera, and will “soon” be able to edit the videos with Adobe Premiere Pro and other standard software. Based on the timeline above, it’ll be some time before you can buy a camera, but Google says creators can apply to loan one from one of its YouTube Spaces, which are found in nine major cities worldwide.
Moving toward 180-degree instead of full 360-degree video has a few big advantages. It doesn’t need the same time-consuming (and often expensive) stitching as videos made with, say, Google’s 360-degree Jump system. You can put a person behind the camera without them appearing in the shot — in full 360-degree videos, filmmakers often literally hide behind objects during a scene. And it could push down file sizes, so viewers are less likely to get annoying buffering gaps while they’re streaming.

A decent amount of VR film is already being shot with a 180-degree field of view — including sports videos from NextVR, which reasoned that viewers would be fine watching action on the field without looking back at the crowd. In practice, we’ve had a mixed experience with this, but it could be a worthwhile sacrifice if it lowers the bar for YouTube videographers.
At the same time, VR180 is further from the goal of full VR “immersion” than 360-degree video, and it lets filmmakers hedge their bets with something that’s easier to translate onto a flat screen. This doesn’t mean VR is in trouble — but at the very least, Google is taking a step back and hoping more filmmakers can catch up.
  
180-degree video format

You have to face forward while watching them, meaning you can't turn and look back, but they'll still be immersive when you watch them through the YouTube app with a compatible headset, such as Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, or PlayStation VR. If you don't use a VR headset, they’ll appear as traditional flat videos.
So, what's the advantage to a 180-degree VR video over a full 360-degree video one? The primary benefit is that it doesn’t require a VR system with multiple cameras, nor do you need to take the time to stitch together all the video feeds from those cameras in order to make an immersive VR video for YouTube.
You see, 360-degree videos, which surround you, typically require tons of time and money, as well as a filmmaker who is willing to hide behind things in order to capture a scene without their body in it. But with the VR180 format, there's now a happy medium, literally. The format essentially renders 180-degree video in stereoscopic 3D.
The picture will appear wider than your field of view - about 135 degrees - and you'll get a single image, so there's no need to stitch or match anything. Just film, edit, and upload it to YouTube. Filmmakers will be able to shoot the way they would normally and even edit with Adobe Premiere Pro or other software.