Vimeo had a very big presence at NAB 2017, where we got a great sense of their new review and approval options as well as new abilities to be able to work directly in tools like Premiere Pro. These sorts of developments and advancements are an illustration of the approach the company is taking around the creation of an end-to-end workflow that creatives of all types and sizes will be able to utilize.
What really caught our attention though was their 360 video platform, as it sounded like a unique and necessary initiative for the industry. We’ve all heard about the potential associated with 360 video, and many filmmakers want to experiment with it. What does it mean to actually create these types of projects though? How can someone make money with them? These are just a few of the questions that Vimeo has looked to answer with this resource, with a curated collection of videos that showcase 360 projects, a resource to make money by selling your 360 videos as well as the 360 Video School which features lessons for beginners, pros, and everyone in between.
We wanted to learn more about their whole 360 initiative, but especially about how filmmakers can and are making money with their 360 content. To do so, we caught up with Sara Poorsattar, Director of Video Product at Vimeo, to talk through what this initiative means for filmmakers and the industry as a whole. We discuss what it takes to get up and running on their platform, how this type of content can help filmmakers grow, what advice she’d offer to anyone who views 360 video as a fad and much more.
ProVideo Coalition: The stated goal of your 360 initiative is to provide a home for creators to learn new techniques, upload, share, and sell 360 videos. Was your community asking you to create a place that would allow them to do all of these things?
Sara Poorsattar: They absolutely were. We work really closely with our creators and we have a really awesome network of filmmakers, especially within the 360 space. It’s such a small and influential group of filmmakers who are really trying to pave the way, which is why we listen so closely to their feedback.
It became really clear to us that they needed more resources and access to information since the barrier to entry right now for 360 is really high. Creators are dealing with totally new techniques throughout all phases of production that they need to get their heads around. How do you actually storyboard for something like non-linear, 3D space? How do you monitor your 360 productions? How do you choreograph everything so you stay out of the way? What does the post-production process look like throughout the stitching process? Stitching is probably the biggest pain point that comes up over and over again and we wanted to create a resource that would provide these specific kinds of answers.
Picking up on that stitching issue, I see that your Stitching 360 video: a guide to Nokia Ozo post-production provides some really great insight. These sorts of topics aren’t really being addressed or talked about in many places, are they?
They are not, and that ties into the feedback we were getting from our community. It was coming from people who were saying things as simple as, “I can’t Google my problems.” It became apparent that we needed to really step up and offer that resource. So we did.
The issues we address can range from the different type of cameras that exist right now to the different types of rigs that exist all the way to advice around what creators can do when they find themselves spending 70% of their budget on post.
How open are people on both sides of those kinds of budgetary issues to discussing such details? I imagine some creatives might be a little sensitive or even guarded around those kinds of topics.
It’s a very positive community, which is another thing that sets it apart. Sometimes you come across big egos in filmmaking, and that makes it really refreshing to see how supportive everyone is of each other. We collaborate with a lot of our filmmakers on a lot of our educational material, and the 360 blog is really an extension of that.
Ultimately, these filmmakers themselves want to be resources, and they were looking for a place where they could make that info available. Their willingness to discuss topics and subjects that might give other creators pause is just one of things that makes this resource really distinct and different.
Budgetary questions tie into how people are or aren’t making money with 360 video content, and that’s a question that comes up over and over in this space. How can and do creators make money with their 360 video content on your site?
We’ve created a marketplace where creators can sell their 360 videos, which is unlike anything in the industry. All of the 360 video that we sell has a 90% revenue share cut to the creators. So the filmmaker’s incentives are high and very real.
So much of the content in the industry that we see right now is being funded by large advertisers or marketers. That can make it really hard for filmmakers to experiment with new or different mediums like 360 video. Expanding our on-demand platform for this has been a really awesome incentive for filmmakers, and a really positive move for the whole community. All of it helps move the format past being a marketing vehicle in order to transform it into a means to create very relevant and thought provoking pieces of art.
What do the logistics of selling your 360 videos on Vimeo look like? Is there a significant process or learning curve to get up and running?
From a toolset standpoint, we want to continue to make it as easy as possible with tutorials and our help section. We’ve also built in flexibility in terms of how that content can be positioned and made available. Numerous models are built into the system in a turnkey way, all of which creates that flexibility.
On a broader level, the way that we launched 360 was not as a stand-alone product, but as an additional form factor that is an extension of our entire suite of products. That’s an important differentiation for us. We want to minimize this learning curve. There’s already so much that creators are trying to do. The marketplace can’t be this separate process that you have to learn, and that’s why it’s a very natural extension of our current on-demand platform, which walks you through how you can go and set your metadata, credits, attributions, the geo-locations you want the content to be available in, whatever genres you want to attribute it to, your pricing point, etc.
It’s a great approach, because there’s lots of talk about the potential of 360 content, but there’s not nearly as much talk about what that actually means for working professionals, from a production or budgetary perspective.
Yes, and it can be very daunting. That’s why everything we’re doing here is really around lowering the barrier to entry. That’s our goal. We think the format as a whole is incredibly promising, so it’s not just about supporting that small percentage of people that are currently doing it, because we want to create and carve the way for this new medium in the industry.
What can you tell us about the 360 videos you’re showcasing on your 360 channel?
Filmmakers come to Vimeo not just to watch content, but for inspiration, and this is a great example of content that can provide that inspiration in a number of ways. It’s not this random maze that you come to when you come to the 360 homepage. It’s helped create a positive feedback cycle for our content.
The things that come out of it are especially enlightening, as we see people talking about the different techniques that are used or why someone chose a specific edit or angle or whatever else. It’s interesting to see how this lends itself to that constant conversation around storytelling and evolving that story.
What would you say to someone who was unwilling to explore the medium because they view it as a passing fad?
I think if you are a true storyteller, you’re constantly looking for new mediums and outlets to tell that story. One thing that we love to tell people is that Tangerine was shot on an iPhone, so it’s really not about the tools, it’s about the story. Considering the most effective way to tell that story is something creators need to do, because they have more options around doing so than ever before. And 360 video can and should be one of those options.
360 video provides creators with an incredible way to immerse their viewers in their ideas and storylines like never before, and that can work in a documentary just as well as in a scripted piece. 360 is a medium that lends itself really well to certain types of stories, and even if someone tries it out and it doesn’t work, it’s not a wasted effort. Just going through those steps is exciting and an important part of the creative process which can end up being a factor in someone’s linear storytelling.
It’s always great to push yourself creatively with a new format, and that’s something creators who might not be looking at or even considering what they can do with 360 video need to think about.
Any future developments with the platform that you can tell us about?
We’re working hard on getting facial audio supported. Right now, facial audio is really fragmented, and so we’re rallying behind some standards that we’re thinking are going to emerge as the standard for spatial audio.
It’s kind of wild to ask you about the future when I know there are so many people trying to figure out what works in the present, but that’s the nature of the industry and even of 360 technology, isn’t it?
It is, but that’s also what’s exciting about it. A lot of what we see right now, especially on the hardware side, are nascent prototypes and will continue to be for awhile. That’s okay though, because it gives us the opportunity to keep the conversation around improving things like the headset experience for consumers at the forefront. We’re not all the way there yet, but we will be, and this community of filmmakers is going to be ready for it.