YouTube, Daydream Introduce Simplified VR180 Virtual Reality Format

VidCon 2017: Google will roll out VR180 cameras from manufacturers like LG and Lenovo later this year

Virtual reality is awesome, as anyone who has strapped on a headset can attest. But getting the right equipment, like 360-degree cameras, and setting up the shots necessary to create true, immersive VR can get expensive and complicated for the creators who are the backbone of Google’s online video behemoth, YouTube.

On Thursday at VidCon in Anaheim, Calif., Google announced that its YouTube and Daydream virtual reality division have partnered up on a new, creator-friendly format, VR180, lowering the technical bar to producing compelling virtual reality content.

“VR180 video focuses on what’s in front of you, are high resolution, and look great on desktop and on mobile,” YouTube project manager Frank Rodriguez wrote in a post on YouTube’s blog. “They transition seamlessly to a VR experience when viewed with Cardboard, Daydream, and [PlayStation VR], which allow you to view the images stereoscopically in 3-D, where near things look near, and far things appear far. VR180 also supports livestreaming videos so creators and fans can be together in real time.”

To make VR180 videos, which focus on what’s in front of the camera, creators can set up and film the same way they do for more traditional video content, and soon will be able to edit with traditional tools like Adobe Premiere Pro.

But more importantly, Google is jumping deeper into the virtual reality hardware space as well, partnering with manufacturers including YI, Lenovo and LG to build VR180 cameras “from the ground up” that will hit the market by this winter and promise to make uploading and livestreaming in the format a simpler task that Google says will be “as easy to use as point-and-shoot cameras, for around the same price.” The company is also starting a VR180 certification program, with Z Cam as one of the first partners. Eligible creators can also apply to rent a VR180-enabled camera from one of its YouTube Spaces.