Streaming live 360-degree videos could well be the next frontier that YouTube has set its sights on. The popular video streaming site isn’t confirming the move though senior YouTube officials are reported to have already met representatives from manufacturers of 360-degree cameras to discuss the modalities of it.
Live streaming of 360-degree videos also seems to the next logical step of the evolutionary process that YouTube has been through off late. The company started with 360-degree video in March, 2015 followed by support for Google Cardboard in June. The latter allows for an affordable means for users to view 360-degree video using their smartphones coupled to Google Cardboard, which essentially is a basic headset unit.
In November, YouTube launched 3D 360-degree video which is only supported in Google Cardboard and provides users with a sense of depth. This allows for a more immersive viewing experience on their Cardboard headsets that otherwise is not possible with 360-degree video broadcasts.
YouTube followed these up with the appointment of a VR Evangelist to have more VR content onboard.
However, no matter how juicy the prospect of live streaming 360-degree video might seem at the moment, the task is easier conceived than actually implemented. A short discourse on how broadcasting 360-degree video actually works should put things in a better perspective.
The entire process starts with the actual recording of the video content which is done by multiple wide angle lenses that record the video separately. These separate captures are then ‘stitched’ together to give rise to what has come to be known as the spherical 360-degree video. Now with YouTube’s move to broadcast live 360-degree video would entail stitching the individual video streams in real time without compromising on quality.
All of this is a tall ask to say the least unless there is suitable hardware support for the underlying software engaged in the post production process. Having to deal with video streams captured by all sorts of cameras would be too big a task at a specific time and budget constraint unless Google is able to have onboard camera manufacturers that develop cameras according to a given set of specifications.
Alternatively, even better still, convince the manufacturers to devise cameras that do the post-production work on their own so that what YouTube is fed with is ready made 360-degree video that is streamed live.
It will be interesting to see how things pan out on this front.