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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Murchie

Five ways to maximise your ROI on VR filmed content

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

(How to generate more social content by multi-purposing VR video)

No doubt many brands or businesses have already invested in shooting cinematic VR content for their business and whether that be for promotional, educational or purely entertainment purposes there’s no reason why that content should be stuck inside a headset – there’s plenty ways for you to repurpose that footage. Or if you haven’t yet dived into the immersive virtual reality film world perhaps the fact that the footage can be used in multiple ways tempt you?

In the last couple of years, I’ve produced half a dozen high-end cinematic VR films for clients covering alcohol, food, visitor attractions, etc. and these films have been used promotionally in VR headsets, generally on a limited number of occasions, with a limited number of users able to access the content at one time. So how about if that content could effectively be released from the headset to give the footage a wider audience online?

Well here’s a few ideas that can give your existing VR footage an extra ROI squeeze.

1. Online VR

One of the things that surprises me most is why much of the promotional VR footage shot isn’t simply shared on one or more of the many online channels that natively support VR films. Once shot and used promotionally, there is no point limiting its audience to the relatively small numbers of viewers who’ve had the chance to experience it in a VR headset.

Okay, let’s admit it, it’s not the same experience viewing cinematic VR on a mobile phone screen as compared to the fully immersive experience in a headset, but it still offers the consumer an engaging and different experience to a basic promo video. In addition to this, channels like YouTube allow users who do have the relevant hardware to view VR content natively in VR – in fact YouTube even supports 3D VR streams which many of the higher end cameras produce. And with well over 3 Million subscribers to YouTube VR, there's an audience waiting for your content. It needn’t really cost anything to deploy – it’s simply a matter of uploading the video to your channel, ticking the right boxes and off you go.

2. Reframed VR Footage

Most, if not all, 360 VR films will be shot to have a focal point, where the director intends the viewer to focus. This may move around in the space over time, but as we’re human beings we can only face in one direction at a time so there’s no point having action occur in front of us and behind us at the same moment, we won’t see it. So, converting from VR to flat is simple enough; we just follow where the director wanted us to look in the first place.

This approach then exports a standard rectangular cropped video (or square for some channels) and flattens this to use as any other standard video would be used. Using this technique, the entire film can be reproduced as a flat version which can be deployed online as simply as any other content.

3. Overcapture VR

One of the side effects of shooting VR video is the plethora of amazing and unusual shots that can be created from this existing 360-degree footage. From anything like little planet views where the video is warped such that the ground plane forms what looks like a tiny planet with action happening around it to the inverse which wraps the ground plane around the outside of the video and presents the sky (or ceiling) as a circle in the middle of the frame, almost like a looking down a tube with the world wrapped around it! And that’s just the beginning – fake drone shots, special flipping transitions, impossible angles and even faked Matrix-like bullet time is all theoretically possible.

It should be noted that not all of these options can be done from existing footage – but it’s definitely worth taking a look at what you’ve got and seeing what crazy concoctions might be created for your social channel content.

4. Virtual Tours

Another option for repurposing existing footage, where practical, could be to create an interactive virtual tour of the environment where this was filmed. For example, if you have an existing VR film of your factory, still images could be extracted and built into an interactive VR tour using one of the many online systems for sharing of these tours relatively simply.

So taking what was a non-interactive medium can be turned into an interactive online tour where by users can choose their navigation and media such as other video or audio can be added to further bring the experience to life and add a higher level of engagement. (This isn’t going to be an option with all videos as there will a limit to what was shot, but it could be worth investigating if you already have the footage.)

5. 360 Images

In a similar vein to the virtual tour idea, it’s simple enough to extract 360-degree images from the footage which can then be presented in a wide range of ways.

Flattened out the still images have a warped other worldly panoramic view. Warped into little planet or hamster wheel type stills you get an intriguing view of the scene. Or at it’s most absolute basic an image can be flattened out like any other video screen-grab and taken into Photoshop to be manipulated (resolution allowing).

By using the five options above you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the extra value that’s currently embedded in your existing VR film.

And if you don’t have any 360 footage it’s worth thinking about the multiple ways in which it can be used when considering your options for creating your very own VR content.

Considering the current situation where we are locked down due to Covid-19 now is an ideal time to engage your audience online with the unlocked potential of this content. If this has inspired you to unlock the potential from your existing VR footage and I can help, please get in touch.

Andrew Murchie is a creative technology consultant based in Edinburgh, Scotland specialising in virtual reality, augmented reality and stereoscopic 3d film. He has produced immersive XR experiences for clients including Dynamic Earth, The Real Mary Kings Close, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft-Heinz, Loch Lomond Distillers, Highland Spring and Tennent Caledonian Breweries.

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