I’ve gotten several emails at Filmmaker IQ asking if 360 video is going to replace traditional filmmaking techniques. The answer of course is “NO!” -followed by a definitive “HELL NO!” but that doesn’t make 360 video still really cool.
The funny thing is when this video came up in my browser I didn’t even know it was a 360 video. I thought the image was kinda of crappy so I clicked on the YouTube resolution and saw it was playing in 480s - I had never seen that nomenclature before – then I realized I could mouse click and drag my way around. The “s” must stand for spherical.
The biggest reason why 360 won’t replace traditional filmmaking is it eliminates the director from the filmmaking equation. Shot composition and montage are effectively destroyed – everything is shot from only one focal length (wide) and the user can choose what to look at which can be more distracting than driving the story forward. I’m sure some enterprising director will come along and make a brilliant 360 narrative – and it’s going to be awesome. But it’s not replacing traditional film.
But more importantly, the question raises a bigger problem in the way we discuss the future of film. We tend to treat film as a monolithic endeavor – CGI vs Practical, Widescreen vs Academy ratio, VHS vs Betamax. With the exception of format standards such as the final example, there is very little that is monolithic about film. There’s room for all kinds of films, all kinds of narrative and all kinds of ways to tell that narrative. A 360 narrative film will happen one day, but that doesn’t mean we stop making traditional film when that day comes – there’s room for both.
We can get extremely narrow sighted when it comes to our view of the filmmaking world – it happens even to the best of us (Spielberg and Lucas have heralded an implosion of Hollywood – and it has yet to happen so Spielberg backtracked). I have been critical of the “democratization of filmmaking” because it has led not to good competition but competition with a deluge of crap – BUT the democratization also means there are a lot more demand and a lot more avenues to serve that demand. In other words – there’s just more variety – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The day you can put on a VR set and enter a horror movie will be a landmark day. If they can figure out the technology to bring a companion with you into that film it will lead to a baby boom a la the Snuggle Theory.