Most recently, Bluetooth Speakers and Portable Chargers have hit the market en masse at lower prices than ever before. But the new kid on the block is Virtual Reality – an all-encompassing visual, 360 degree, virtual experience.
You may hear virtual reality and think back to the theme park attractions that stuffed you into a van sized contraption with hydraulics, slapped 3D glasses to your face and made you want to puke all over your shoes. Virtual reality in 2016 has seen a much more simple yet elegant experience that offers the single user the ability to explore 3 dimensional spaces all from the comfort of your favorite easy chair.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that this sounds more like a contraption for your 13 year old video gamer. Virtual Reality viewers have a broad and powerful range of uses for marketing and promotions. Imagine the ability to allow your target audience to tour your event space, museum, apartment building, restaurant, warehouse, recording studio, botanical garden, retail store, studio, fitness center, spa, etc. (the list literally goes on and on).
In creating our first ever Virtual Reality Campaign, we have gained so much knowledge about what it takes to produce a convincing VR experience that will excite, intrigue and engage the viewer. With this being such a fresh idea in the promotional products industry, it can be difficult to know where to start.
What elements go into a Virtual Reality Campaign?
Creating a good VR campaign has a couple of different parts. First there is the photography. Getting a good, compelling photo is key to peaking interest. There are also some choices to make as to how the image will be viewed online. Is this a single 360 degree image or is it a series of images that travel throughout your space? Next is choosing how you want your prospects to view your photo. There are several different styles of VR Viewers/Glasses. And finally is the delivery system. Do you make a custom box? Do these need retail style packaging? How will the message get communicated?
DIY vs. Professional Photography
Within the last year, both The New York Times and McDonald’s have created marketing campaigns using Virtual Reality.
With the popularity of this technology reaching a whole new audience, there has been a swell of apps for creating virtual content.
Apps like Google Cardboard Camera are available for download to your phone allowing you to take your own 360 degree photos. Well, kind of. While apps like this make it easy to stitch panoramic photos together, they really only allow you a limited view of the space.
These apps will have you stand in the center of the room, turn in a circle taking still photos at controlled intervals.
But these apps have yet to create the technology that allows the DIY user to not only pan around in a circle but up and down to the floor and ceiling as well.
This is where it becomes best to involve a professional photographer. For our VR Campaign, we were attempting to transport the viewer into Van Gogh’s famous painting Bedroom.
In conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago, we were granted access to the AirBNB suite constructed as a 3D replica of this painting. Capturing the fine details of this room was best left to our trusty photographer.
The set up for this photo was technical and confusing. It required the use of a special camera rig that allows the camera to rotate in a complete sphere while keeping the lens in the exact same position no matter what position the camera was in.
After principal photography is done, the series of still images are taken back to the art department for stitching – or the combining of the stills to make a 360 degree image.
Hosting vs. App Building
The next step in this process is deciding how your content will be viewed online. The easiest, most inexpensive way to do this is to have a single image hosted online.
So why can you not just post this image to your own website and let your viewers go to town?
These photos take some special technology to be viewed correctly. A special online viewer is needed to allow the image to move in all directions and to split the image in two allowing you to use the Virtual Reality Glasses for a full immersive experience.
The other option for viewing online is to create a custom App. This is a much more involved process that requires the art department to code a special application, designed with your branding to view the 360 degree image.
The benefit of having an App built, is that you can host several single image spaces at once AND you can even have photography done that allows you to travel from space to space, room to room for a full tour of a multi-dimensional space.
With either of these solutions, new photography content can be uploaded from time to time to give your viewers more VR experiences without having to do a whole new campaign.
Types of Viewers
There are three types of viewers that can be used to view the VR photo: The Cardboard Viewer, The Plastic Viewer and the Headset.
The cardboard version is the original version of the viewer. The pros for this viewer are that it is sturdy, it allows for full color imprinting all over the viewer and it also blocks your peripheral vision giving the viewer a more immersive experience.
No special packaging is necessary for this item – it starts flat and can have your messaging printed anywhere and everywhere.
These can even be shrink-wrapped and put through the mail without extra packaging.
The Plastic Viewer is a newer version of the VR Viewer.
This viewer has an area on the front for a logo covered with an epoxy dome. It comes in plastic packaging that also has an instructional insert card that can be customized with your own branding and instructions.
This item also comes with a custom retail box for even more branding opportunities.
The Headset is the most immersive viewer. This viewer allows for a hands-free experience and fits snugly around the eyes. Recently, Samsung has come out with a very similar model for a video gaming application.
The headset can be imprinted with a logo on the front, center and comes in a gift box. Additional messaging opportunities could be provided with an insert card in the box.
Well obviously, we at Edventure are your first resource for this new tech. Have an idea for a VR campaign but aren’t sure how to make it happen? Give us a ring, we’ll talk it through.
I bet you are wondering how much this all costs, aren’t you! Click HERE for all of the nitty gritty details.
Want to see how cool the 360 degree experience really is? Click HERE to view the 360 degree photo of the Van Gogh Bedroom!