Home entertainment has come a long way since the days of stationary theater. Instead of being passive, you can now take a more active role in your viewing experience.
These top-notch videos will immerse you in various environments, from the memorable streets of Rome to the wide-open Zambian savanna. Strap on your headset and clear some space in your living room so you can enjoy these wonderful and immersive 360degree videos.
NASA: Cassini's Grand Finale
The vastness of space has never been more beautifully captured than in this video of the Cassini spacecraft's final exploration around Saturn's orbit. This spacecraft's 20-year journey is a marvel in and of itself, and the pictures that were collected will be invaluable in gathering information about how fast Saturn rotates. Even if you are not a huge astronomy fan, you will be enraptured by the views of Saturn's atmosphere, the planet's famous rings, and Enceladus, one of Saturn's many moons. The narrator's voice adds a nice soothing effect to the visuals and further lends a sense of scale to the video.
Red Bull: Cliff Diving From a Rocky Ledge in Italy
Have you ever been interested in doing high dives but are too afraid of heights? Now you can have this experience vicariously with this beautiful 360-degree video. The video is mainly taken from the point of view of the divers and covers everything from the walk up to the edge of the diving platform to the plunge into the waters below. The camera perspectives add an immersive feel to the video, and the video's conflict-free simplicity is a very welcome choice. There are no bells and whistles; it's just an athlete, a cliffside and a seamless motion.
National Geographic: Lions 360
Nature truly comes alive in this short video about a young lion named Gibson and his journey to adulthood in Zambia. The camera places you in the middle of the savanna and as close to these fierce felines as possible. Lions 360 offers an interesting story in which you find out about Gibson's struggle to survive while facing the threat of a dominant male lion. Taking full advantage of the capabilities of 360 video, Lions 360 allows you to view beautiful skyscapes and fully immerse yourself in the open wilderness. Instead of feeling like a voyeur, you too will feel like a member of Gibson's pride.
New York Times: We Who Remain
This captivating 14-minute film documents the lives of citizens stuck in the middle of an ongoing war between the Sudanese government and the rebel forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North. The film pulls no punches and open your eyes to the difficulties of survival in a war-torn country. The documentarians are exceptional at capturing the scenery and setting a strong tone, which enables you to better absorb the stories of each of the film's four subjects. If you're looking for a thought-provoking piece of short cinema, you should watch We Who Remain.
What Happens Inside Your Body?
What Happens Inside Your Body is a fun, cutesy video that feels like a straight-laced version of a Magic School Bus trip. Travel through blood vessels and internal organs while being informed by the narrator's dulcet tones about how the human body works. The animation is stunning, and the perspective gives the viewer a nice sense of scale about the vastness of the human body. Plus, this video is perfect for children or squeamish viewers because the organs are detailed without being graphic. If you are looking for a fun and educational romp, add this movie to your queue.
Shark Attack VR 360°
Equal parts gore and horror, Shark Attack VR 360° places you in a tiny underwater capsule and has you watch helplessly as a shark begins to circle your vehicle. The tightness of the space sets a strong foreboding mood, and the brief shots of your fellow diver warning you from outside the capsule add to the heart-pounding terror. This short film excels at ramping up the tension and even has a briefly funny interlude with another diver oblivious of the surrounding danger.
Rome: A Guided City Tour
Alongside Daan and his girlfriend Elske, the viewer is taken on a tour of one of the oldest and historically richest cities in the world: Rome. The commentary is refreshing and informative without being overbearing. The daytime filming and camerawork make the various monuments look stunning. Plus, Daan's narration never feels stuffy or overwrought, so the viewer feels less like a member of a field trip and more like a close friend and fellow traveler. This film is perfect for both frequent European sightseers and anyone who cannot afford the airfare right now.
Rings 360-Degree Experience
You do not need to be a fan of the popular horror franchise to enjoy this short film that sets you in a darkened, ramshackle room full of television sets. This film fully utilizes the potential of 360-degree video to produce jump scares by letting you look around the room and notice the various changes to the decor. Rings 360 excels at creating and maintaining a dark and claustrophobic setting, skillfully using blackouts and sudden cuts to ramp up feelings of isolation and of helplessness. The film is, mercifully, short, keeping the risks of a heart attack to a minimum.
Credit: National Geographic