Facebook launches 360-degree video feature, 'Star Wars' lets fans in on flying action

By Marilyn Malara  |  Sept. 23, 2015 at 4:02 PM
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MENLO PARK, Calif., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Facebook has announced its newest 360-degree video feature to give users a more immersive viewing experience as a nod to virtual reality.

The new capability, launched Wednesday will be first used by such publishers as Star Wars, Discovery, GoPro, Vice Media, LeBron James' Uninterrupted and Saturday Night Live, to allow spectators to choose the angle they want to view videos by using their cursors or fingers on mobile devices. Additionally, those viewing 360-degree footage on smartphones and tablets can simply move the device up, down and around in order to choose their desired angle.

"In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend's vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil," writes Facebook Engineering Director Maher Saba on the company's blog. "You'll be able to look around and experience it as if you were really there."

One of the first 360 videos published on Facebook Wednesday was that from Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The minute-long clip places the viewer atop character Rey's racer bike as it speeds over the Jakku desert from the film. Throughout the entire video, the bike's details and the desert surroundings can be further investigated by moving around the perspective. In less than two hours, the Star Wars 360 video gained over 6,000 likes and almost 7,000 shares.

Speed across the Jakku desert from Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this immersive 360 experience created exclusively for Facebook.

Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Creating a 360 video requires a specialized camera setup which simultaneously records encapsulating footage of a certain space. YouTube introduced 360-degree video compatibility earlier this year while Google and NBC teamed up by creating a clip for the premiere of Heroes Reborn.

Facebook's 360 videos are only compatible through the web and Android devices; its use on iOS devices will not be available for a few months, the company says.

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