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VRU: From the Set to the Headset: 5 Tips for Making Compelling Virtual Reality Video

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SamsungVR team

Welcome to the last Q&A in our VRU (VR to the Power of You) series, where we’re asking some of the world’s best VR content creators how they’re developing groundbreaking work that’s pushing the limits of VR. In this entry, we chatted with the SamsungVR team to get the top tips from the experts receiving and reviewing content every day.

VR is not a new technology; however, The Worldwide Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide from IDC forecasts worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market to reach $13.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 130.5% over the $6.1 billion spent in 2016. Our 360 video service, SamsungVR, is also seeing a steady stream of innovative content with more videos from brands, studios and independent creators alike added to the platform every day. The industry is growing, and with any developing medium, it needs compelling content for users to engage.

As engineers, designers, developers and creators, we’ve watched a tremendous amount of VR and know what makes for great content. Whether you’re considering a career in the industry or if you’re already in the field but struggling with developing compelling creative, here are five tips that can help you create amazing, sought-after content:

**  1) Choose the right subject matter**

Today, the majority of VR users are what you would expect: males, aged 16-40, gamers, dreamers and geeks (a term we use affectionately, of course). So, CG, stereoscopy, spatialized audio and interactive content that tells great stories tend to perform best on Samsung VR. People want content that makes them feel present. Action-adventure, sci-fi, animation, outer space, and horror are popular genres for obvious reasons, as well as travel. But a lot of the travel content still has too much of a documentary look and lacks feeling. There are also quite a few thrill-seekers out there — so roller coaster, high wire pov, and skydiving videos still get a lot of plays in VR today.

**  2) Create real stories**

Just because you’re in VR doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from traditional television. Before developing content, ask ‘What would bring a TV viewer back next week?’ While you don’t have to create a cliff-hanger, viewers are looking for addictive, episodic content that keeps them coming back for more. If you can make something that inspires people to put on a headset and watch another episode each week or month, you have yourself a winner.

**  3) Never forget you’re developing for VR**

Remember to always ask yourself ‘Why is VR the best way to tell this story?’  VR is not an easy environment to get into, or stay in for long periods of time, so you always have to design with the guiding principle of user experience in mind. Also, VR is not flat framed content. There has to be interesting things going on all around you at all times. But, you can't do quick cuts either and hope the user stays immersed like you can in flat video. For example, take the recent Nissan Rogue Star Wars-themed video. While it could’ve been just another car commercial, it was an incredible experience using a great mix of regular 360 video and ILM CG that made you want to look all around. As a result, the video has one of the best heat map dispersions we’ve ever seen. Heat maps are an excellent tool — a visual representation of where viewers are looking in-headset. The content creator who understands and optimizes for this is head and shoulders above the competition.

**  4) Build an immersive experience**

Regardless of the scene you build, you have to give viewers a chance to immerse themselves in it. Keep in mind that your 360 camera is the viewer’s head— anytime you move the camera in a way that the viewer isn't moving in the real world, you risk making them sick. So, put your camera in the middle of the action and be careful that the camera moves with slow, smooth, linear movement. With any dialogue, it’s also best if people talk over the camera as it puts the viewer in the middle of the action. From a quality control perspective, it’s essential that you vet your own content in-headset. Watching a video an inch from your eyes will help you see things you never would otherwise. This QC goes for audio and dialogue as well. While most narration is enjoyable in-headset, a lot of character exchange and dialogue in today’s videos comes across as amateurish.

**  5) Experiment and Network**

How are VR developers and independent creators gaining traction? They are taking advise from the VR OEMs to get great performance. They are also talking to the store curators to get good feature positioning of content before the broadest audience. Look to Samsung VR for that reach! Available on Gear VR, mobile and web platforms, as well as over 50 countries abroad—Samsung VR is the to-be destination for VR audience and distribution.

While we’ve tried to provide some helpful guidelines, never be afraid to try new things. Design it. Create it. Produce it. See the feedback. Repeat.

If you’re interested in VR, be sure to follow us on Twitter (#BeASamsungDev), like us on Facebook  and join us at the 2017 Samsung Developer Conference (happening on October 18-19 in San Francisco) where you can attend a variety of VR content sessions and meet and mingle with other VR creators.

Get your #SDC2017 reduced tickets now using code SDCVRU