Facebook may not have beaten YouTube to deploying 4K 360 live streaming, but it did get the jump on Twitter’s Periscope. This week, the biggest social media platform in the planet officially launched initial support for 360 degree live streams. National Geographic’s Facebook page will be the first to publish 360 Live video content this week as a bunch of researchers emerge from nearly three months of isolation in pods at the Mars Desert Research Station located in the state of Utah. Nat Geo’s stream will include interviews with the participating scientists as well as footage from the mock Mars landscape.
For those who want to join in on the fun, know that just before the end of this year, Facebook Live 360 broadcasting will be made available as an option in the Facebook Live’s application program interface (API). By the start of 2017, the company should start its global deployment to all Facebook Pages and Facebook users. Sure, people still can not view Facebook Live 360 video content in virtual reality headsets, but they do have the ability to watch replays. To date, the social media giant still does not support 4K resolution or spatial audio, but these are things that the company is actually considering having. Facebook also recommends people to use a Freedom360 Broadcaster rig with Vahana VR or a Nokia Ozo or high quality results. It also mentioned using the Insta360 Nano, the Ricoh Theta S, or the Giroptic iO for fairly good quality.
As live streaming and 360 video gain more traction among consumers, the competition among social media companies is bound to intensify. YouTube has had a bit of a head start -- it already lets people live streamin 360, but only if users possess a special encoder software set up on their computer, such as OBS streaming from a Ricoh Theta S.
Although Facebook has some catching up to do, its approach may be considered more user friendly. This is because it looks to permit normal profiles to easily stream from a 360 mobile device even without desktop software. Last year, the social media giant had successfully started deploying Live and 360 Video, and now it is merging the two for a more mind blowing effect.
Of course, a significant part of the success of Facebook Live 360 broadcasting is the content delivered by creators. For now, creators are making content that are more demos than the finished product. But as they continue to get a feel of 360 broadcasting, the videos they create truly make their audiences’ heads spin.
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