360° Storytelling Part 1: Drag your audience right into the plot

360° story­tel­ling is one of the hottest topics. It’s not just a new medium, it’s a comple­tely new way to tell a story. The good news is that soon ever­yone can use 360 degree photos and videos to create an inter­ac­tive VR expe­ri­ence. In our new series we want to give you an over­view and a guide at the same time: from filming with the right equip­ment to publi­shing your expe­ri­ence. Let’s start with an over­view and some examples.

WHAT IS 360° STORYTELLING?

When you create content, you may ask yourself: “How can we increase the enga­ge­ment of our audi­ence when there´s already so much content out there?” Video is curr­ently the medium consu­mers prefer the most, but its full poten­tial hasn’t been reached yet.

Thanks to the ongoing advan­ce­ments of new tech­no­lo­gies, you will be able to increase the impact of your story through a new type of video which is on the rise. Normal videos are filmed in a fixed frame. The viewers perspec­tive is comple­tely limited to the scene captured directly in front of the camera lens. You cannot see what is above or below the picture the camera recorded.

360 video removes this limi­ta­tion and adds a whole new dimen­sion for the viewer. You decide which angle you want to look at within a scene – allo­wing you to expe­ri­ence it in a 360 degree view. Putting your audi­ence directly into a 360 scene where they can expe­ri­ence the content is called 360 storytelling.

INDUSTRIES USING 360° STORYTELLING TO THEIR ADVANTAGE

Think this kind of expe­ri­ence is only for movies and docu­men­ta­ries? Nope, 360 story­tel­ling can be used in various indus­tries like music, marke­ting, educa­tion and more. In the follo­wing para­graphs we would like to show you 3 success examples of 360 story­tel­ling for mobile devices.

Gorillaz – Saturnz Barz

To promote their upco­ming album, the British band “Gorillaz” published a 360 music video on Youtube for one of their new songs. What makes this band so special is that their band members are fictitious charac­ters with their very own traits and quirks.

By putting the viewer right into the story, Gorillaz provided deeper insights into the band´s charac­ters; helping to create a much stronger connec­tion between the band and their fans. Of course, you like a band because of its music. But after a while, you also want to know more about the charac­ters behind it. Gorillaz did a great job accom­pli­shing this to serve their core fanbase.

The feed­back? Amazing. Within just two weeks, the video reached over 8 million views on Youtube and got lots of posi­tive reac­tions in the comments. This is the most successful music video in 360 so far.

Nissan & Star Wars: Drive Through A Battle Zone

A car company and a famous movie fran­chise toge­ther? Exactly! Nissan lever­aged another movie franchise´s story­tel­ling (in this case Star Wars) for their 360 expe­ri­ence. The viewer is driving in a Nissan while being surrounded by a battle scene taken from the latest Star Wars movie.

Putting the viewer’s focus on the Star Wars scene and not on the car itself wasn´t done by acci­dent. By placing the viewers in the middle of a inter­ga­lactic battle, Nissan was able to demons­trate the safety systems of their cars in a subtle way.

Within two weeks, the 360 video reached over 1.5 million views and received very posi­tive feed­back. Lots of viewers enjoyed it and left several comments such as “This was the best car commer­cial ever”. People like commer­cials?! This seems odd, doesn´t it? But we´ll reveal the reason for this in a minute.

By using Star Wars as the foun­da­tion of their story­tel­ling, Nissan also branded itself as tech-oriented, adven­turous and humo­rous car manu­fac­turer and states clearly which buyer segment they want to attract.

QANTAS Airlines: Hamilton Island

Of all 3 story­tel­ling examples, this 360 expe­ri­ence is the oldest one with the lowest footage quality. It’s not only about footage quality but about the story. QANTAS Airlines created various 360 scenes of Hamilton Island (located in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) inclu­ding scenes around diving, walking on the beach, dining at sunsets etc. to empha­size those expe­ri­ences more than in a normal video.

The Austra­lian airline provided great story­tel­ling by making the Hamilton Island and expe­ri­en­cing a high-class vaca­tion there the main focus. In addi­tion, a drone was used to aim for a better percep­tion of the surroun­dings. From a content marke­ting stand­point, the purpose of this video is clear: QANTAS provides value to the viewer in form of esca­pism, speci­fi­cally by making the viewers feel they are on a real vaca­tion while watching the 360 video. In return, QANTAS aims to sway the viewers´ deci­sion on which airline to choose when booking a holiday to Hamilton Island.

SUCCESS FACTORS OF 360° STORYTELLING

360 story­tel­ling unlocks a feature that is not avail­able in normal videos. The success of all 3 examples above is driven by inter­ac­tivity. By having the option of swiping with your finger or moving your phone for a 360 degree view, you are actively parti­ci­pa­ting in the scene. During a scene your curio­sity kicks in and you ask yourself: “Hey, what´s above/beneath/behind me?”

Enab­ling this type of inter­ac­tivity makes your audi­ence believe they are part of the story and there­fore, it increases your audience´s atten­tion enor­mously. Gaining the atten­tion of your audi­ence may be one of the most valu­able assets you can have. The more they are focused on your content, the better you can convey your message. And we all know that a better conveyed message is also received in a much deeper form.

Besides, your audi­ence is very likely to replay your 360 video because they know there are still other perspec­tives in the story to discover which further increases your story´s impact. Lots of videos out there are probably only consumed once… and that´s it. But a 360 video gives your audi­ence the chance of doing it again and again.

However, be careful!

Using 360 video just for the sake of appearing “inno­va­tive” might even hurt your story­tel­ling. As with every marke­ting tool, you need to a have clear goal in mind from the begin­ning. Ask yourself: “What do I want to achieve with this content?” Does it make sense to show the story from diffe­rent angles? Does it help the viewer to expe­ri­ence the story more intensely?

After clari­fying this, you can decide if you want to tell your story in 360. Other­wise, if you create a 360 expe­ri­ence that bores your audi­ence too fast, you risk losing them.

360° storytelling REFLEKT 360

Focus on valu­able content, not advertising

Think about your audi­ence and goals first, not about your product. What is important to your audi­ence? How can they benefit from this video? This could be in the form of a utility or just plain enter­tain­ment. Do not turn it into a commercial!

Keep it simple

Let´s take a look at the airline example: The QANTAS vaca­tion video was only shot with a 360 camera, a drone and had zero computer anima­tions. Despite its simpli­city and low reso­lu­tion compared to regular videos, people still liked the 360 expe­ri­ence because they felt they were part of the story. Remember: Quality is very subjective.

A FUTURE OUTLOOK ON 360° STORYTELLING

360 video is still at an early age, but it´s obvious how much impact it already has on us as consu­mers. With VR head­sets conti­nuing to spread in the next years, new ways of inclu­ding your audi­ence in your story will emerge. So far, it has been very diffi­cult to create those sophisti­cated inter­ac­tions when you are not a brand with a big budget. Fortu­n­a­tely, content produ­cers and agen­cies are able to use our DIY tool to create those same experiences.

If you liked the examples above, why not think about how you can use 360 video to tell your story? You may find a new way spread your message with a diffe­rent perspec­tive and create a stronger connec­tion with your audience.

In the upco­ming posts, we´ll show you how you can use 360° story­tel­ling to create this emotional bond. If you don’t want to wait: sign up for the beta test of the 360° DIY tool “REFLEKT 360” and create your first stories!

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