If the above video looks like a tripped-out panorama, just wait. It's actually one of the first 360-degree videos uploaded to YouTube.
UPDATE: The above video might not look like anything. YouTube had planned to add support for 360-degree videos on March 12, but it ran into technical glitches that have delayed the roll-out for a few days. As a result YouTube has temporarily taken down the initial playlist of 360-degree videos it had compiled.
Yep, the Google-owned video service plans to blow right past 3D video and straight to all-encompassing 360-degree video when the feature goes live in the next few days. As the name suggests, 360-degree videos use special cameras to capture all angles of a scene so that audiences can swivel their viewports and check out the scene's entire surroundings.
YouTube has posted a playlist of 360-degree videos so that people can check out the fourth-wall-breaking format, but the videos will only play properly on the latest version of Google's Chrome desktop browser or YouTube's Android app. Apple fanboys and fangirls will have to wait.
For YouTube auteurs, the 360-degree video format offers a new way to experiment with filmmaking, such as making scripted videos where viewers can veer away from the intended shot and explore the storyline their own way. Brands can test it for the same reason, and early-adopter brands might see a nice pick-up in viewership simply for the novelty.
The problem with 360-degree video is shooting it. People can try to harness a sphere of several GoPros to capture all angles of a shot, but that might not do the job. As anyone who tried to watch the video embedded above on an iPhone can attest, 360-degree videos that look like someone took a fish-eye camera into a freaky funhouse aren't easy on the eyes.
To make things easier, YouTube has a list of approved cameras that are able to shoot and upload 360-degree videos to YouTube: Bublcam, Giroptic's 360cam, IC Real Tech's Allie, Kodak's SP360 and RICOH THETA.
And YouTube's Creator Tech team will train people who visit YouTube's Space LA production facility through April on how to use these cameras to shoot and the right ways to capture 360-degree video.
Google had teased plans for supporting 360-degree video last November when it rolled out the short-film series Spotlight Stories.