So you’ve bought your 360 camera, shot some immersive video and now you want to upload and view it. Where can you upload 360 video and where does it look the best? Quality is everything when it comes to 360 video because the resolution is so large, and a video uploaded to different video sharing websites won’t necessarily look the same.
I’ve uploaded the same 360 video to all the popular sharing websites that accept 360 video so you cans see the different in quality. In most cases the difference isn’t huge, but it could be enough to sway where you focus your uploads. It’s also worth considering that different websites have different options for 360 video and have a different user base which may or may not be more interested in VR.
Taking all of this into consideration, let’s take a look at your options for uploading your 360 video:
YouTube was the first major website to accept 360 video and it quickly became the go to place to both watch and upload immersive video. YouTube obviously has a huge audience so by uploading your video here means your potential viewers are high. YouTube allows you to upload 360 video up to 5K resolution, which is great because there are now several consumer 360 cameras than can shoot in 5K.
While YouTube accepts very high resolution 360 video, unfortunately it also compresses video heavily. Compression is removing data from the video to reduce the size, unfortunately this also lowers the quality. For normal, non 360 video, this doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s more noticeable in 360 video.
YouTube also crops 360 video so that you have a zoomed in effect, further reducing the quality as pixels become more noticeable. Here’s my example video, view at the highest resolution for best quality.
Overall YouTube is probably the best place to upload 360 video because of the huge numbers of people using the platform. Certainly more people search for, and find, 360 video on YouTube than any other platform, however their compression and zooming means that the quality is not as good as it could be. You can see more examples of 360 videos on my YouTube channel.
Vimeo is the high quality version of YouTube and is favored by film makers. Vimeo is regarded as providing an overall superior experience when it comes to video quality and user friendliness compared to YouTube, however it also have a much smaller user base. Vimeo might sound like a great place to upload your 360 video if you want to display the absolute highest quality, however that isn’t the case.
While Vimeo doesn’t compress 360 video as much as YouTube, the difference in overall quality is minimal. There are very few options for 360 video in the control panel and the zoom effect is still in play. You’ll also likely need to pay the subscription fee, as a single 360 video will almost certainly take you over the 300mb upload per month limit (hence why the below example is only 1 minute).
If you already pay for a premium Vimeo account, then there is no harm in also uploading your 360 content there, but for most there isn’t really much point.
Facebook has also been a pioneer of 360 content and they were among the first to accept 360 video. Facebook is used by over 2 billion people, so the potential audience is huge, however it’s also unlikely people will be searching for your video. Facebook also provides several options for 360 video not found on other platforms, for example you can select interesting point in your video which will cause the player to automatically pan to that area when someone plays it back. Other features include automatic stabilization and 360 spatial audio compatibility.
It’s certainly true that Facebook has put the most effort into accommodating 360 video into their overall platform, however there are still some issues with quality. For a start the upload resolution is limited to 4K and there is some heavy compression applied to video. Fortunately there is no zoom issue that plagues YouTube and you have full control over the starting field of view.
Facebook is the easiest and more user friendly platform for 360 content, but you may not get as many views unless your video is very shareable.
You may not have heard of Veer, but it’s a video sharing platform dedicated only to 360 video. The platform is not even a year old, but it already has thousands of users and more 360 videos than you could even hope to watch. The potential audience here is perfect, because these are people who actively want to watch immersive content. While the user base of Veer is the smallest, it’s certainly the most relevant for 360 video.
It’s a shame that a video service dedicated to 360 video still suffers from same issues discuses above. Heavy compression is applied and the video starts zoomed in too much. The quality is pretty similar to YouTube and there are none of the controls found on Facebook.
Veer does have a very good mobile app that allows you to easily edit 360 video, add filters, text and even animation, and I would recommend giving it a go. As for uploading your 360 video to Veer itself, I still think it’s worth it despite the issues with compression and quality because your work is much more likely to be appreciated.
For each video player I captured a screenshot at the same point in time and I’ve combined them into a single image below. This should allow us to see side by side the difference in quality between each platform. I’ve also included a screenshot of the video played in the GoPro VR Player, which is a desktop player that should show the video at its best quality.
The difference between each one is subtle, but upon closer inspection you can certainly see a difference in quality. This is mostly due to how “zoomed in” the video is. For each player I zoomed out as much as it would let me but some players have different limits. YouTube is actually the worst for this, forcing the video to start cropped and the loss of quality as a result is noticeable.