How to Watch VR Videos BEFORE Uploading Them

I like for things to be the best they can, especially before they are published. When starting this Virtual Reality storytelling class, one of my initial questions was “Are we going to have to upload all these videos just to test them and see if they worked?” The answer is no, thankfully. This post looks at an app that allows you to view your 360 video (and regular media) within a virtual player for free.

The application is called “Mobile VR Station” for iOS by Michael Fuller. The app is free with in-app purchases available, but they are not required. Basically, it allows you to view media (in your photos app) within this kind of virtual world. When first opened, it is very crude and has a decent learning curve, but if you sit down and devote 5-10 minutes going through the settings, you will get the hang of it.

You can choose your media to play from the home screen or within the VR environment, whichever you prefer. I usually like to select my video with my hands before putting my headset on. When you play a video, a bar across the top/bottom (customizable) appears. You look at the button you want to select for a certain period of time and then its function is activated. So when you look at the play button for 3 seconds, the video starts playing. You can visually see how long you have to look at the button because there is a loading graphic that play over top of the button. You can also change how you are viewing the media. For example, sometimes the player will default to a 2D screen. You can go into the settings (with the headset on) and change it to be 360 degrees.

PROS:

Straight forward; it does exactly what you tell it to. You can have a video playing in under 20 seconds if it is on your phone.

Reliable; I haven’t had to force restart this app once yet.

Customizable; Any and every detail of this app experience is customizable. Timing, phone orientation, visual aesthetics, you name it.

Free; For everything I use it for (testing VR videos before uploading them), I had to pay zero dollars.

CONS:

Rough; It is kind of ugly and needs some fine tuning. It could be more user friendly, but it gets the job done. There is definitely a learning curve. It takes some getting used to.

No DRM; This app can only display personal media. Anything that is protected by DRM (iTunes movies, etc.) cannot be displayed. Not a big deal if you are just using to testing out your own content.

5 Minute Limit; You can only play videos up to five minutes long (without an in-app purchase of $2.99 or an Ultimate Edition purchase of $5.99). You can buy the ability to watch longer videos, but in my experience five minutes of VR is pushing people’s attention span. Most of the videos I have watched/made have been closer to 2.5/3 minutes, which feels more appropriate.

So what is the purpose of this app? Why do you need it? Truthfully, you don’t. If editing in Premiere Pro, there is a VR viewer built in. You can upload it to YouTube and watch it as soon as your done editing if you want. I just like being able to see what users will experience when they put the headset on before putting it out in the public. Plus, it’s free. I know it is very confusing to read about an app like this, so below is a video demonstrating how to watch a 360 video using the app.

But the best way to learn is to try it yourself.  You can download the app yourself by clicking HERE. Thanks for reading!

VeeR: VR Community

VR is gaining steam… among a niche market.  It’s hard to sell VR to the public because to truly experience it you have to put on a headset, only a few can or are willing to do this.  But that doesn’t stop the creators.  So how do the creators get their creations to their niche market (people willing to look silly in headsets)? Youtube and Facebook are of course options but there is still another, VeeR.  VeeR is a “360 VR video platform designed and built around social networking features.” They’ve been around since August 2016 but, if you’re like me this may be the first time you’re hearing about them… and perhaps with good reason.  VeeR is a noble idea, a free community for VR, where content creators can find and be inspired by other creators.  It sounds like a dream no more scouring youtube for 360 videos you simply log on and low and behold hundreds of editor picked videos show up instantly and an easy to use search feature as well as customization for your feed.  Where it breaks down is the app. The VeeR community is accessible through their website (veer.tv) and a mobile app.  The website works well, or as well as a website for VR can. -At this current moment in time, VR is best utilized through a phone and headset.-  It’s disappointing that the app doesn’t work well, or at least not well for me.  Whenever I try to play a video on my ios device the app shuts down immediately.  

However, I have to assume this is not the case for everyone because I personally have a video (http://veer.tv/videos/7137) on this site that has been up for a little less than a month and it has over 1,000 views.  And the reason I have over 1,000 views in less than a month is because I was featured.  I uploaded some test footage of the inside of my hamster’s cage to Youtube and then the next day I received an email.  The youtube video had around 10 views at the time I received the email asking permission to 1 create and account for me on their site and, 2 feature my video.  While there may be some playback error on certain devices I will say that their recruitment is impressive, they know who their audience is and they are not afraid to reach out to them.  I’d mark this young Chinese company down as one to watch for VR creators and I hope to see an update for the app because the website certainly is promising.

Below you will find the pdf they sent as an introduction to me.  This pdf includes more details on the company and their mission as well as links to some of their featured videos.

Introduction on VeeR VR

UPDATE: Tried the app on my roommate’s android phone and it worked perfectly.  One point for android!