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The complexity of 360° video production: Challenges compared to traditional film

Challenges with 360° video productions

In the world of visual media, 360° video technology is opening up new horizons for storytelling and audience experience. While this innovative form of filmmaking puts the audience at the center of the action and offers an impressive level of immersion, it confronts filmmakers with a number of complex challenges. From directing to camerawork to editing, established methods of traditional filmmaking need to be rethought and adapted to the requirements of the 360° format. The following list highlights the key differences and provides insight into the specific aspects that need to be considered when producing 360° videos in order to fulfill both creative visions and the expectations of a modern audience.

Directing and storytelling:

In classic film, the director guides the viewer's eye through the image composition, camera movements and cuts. In 360° video, the viewer has the opportunity to look around in all directions, which is a challenge for guiding attention. The narrative structure must be adapted so that it works in this open format.

Camera work:

The placement of the camera is much more complex in 360° video. There is no "rear camera", everything is in the picture. As a result, the script and staging have to take into account that actions and important scenes take place in a 360° space.
Directors must find new ways to tell the story while maintaining full control over where and when the audience perceives certain elements of the plot. The use of sound, light and other visual cues becomes crucial in directing the audience's attention. In addition, the fact that the entire environment is visible requires a more detailed and careful design of the set. Props and scenery must be convincing from all sides, not just from the perspective of a camera.

The movement of the camera itself is another critical aspect. Unlike traditional films, where camera movements are carefully choreographed to enhance a scene or support a narrative, in 360° video the camera cannot simply move freely without disrupting immersion. Instead, it often needs to be stationary, or the movements need to be very carefully planned to avoid nausea or disorientation for the viewer, a phenomenon often discussed in relation to VR experiences.

Cut and transitions:

While editing is used in classic film to drive the story forward and determine the rhythm, this can lead to disorientation in 360° videos. New techniques for transitions and narrative pacing need to be developed.


Lighting is a particular challenge in the production of 360° films. As the camera films in all directions, traditional equipment cannot be placed outside the field of view. The lighting must therefore either be cleverly integrated into the scene or digitally removed later in post-production. This requires creative set design and careful planning to use light sources like natural lighting or disguise them as objects in the film. In post-production, the removal of lights can be time-consuming and requires advanced retouching techniques in order not to disturb the immersion.

Acting tour:

Actors need to be aware that they can be filmed from all angles. This requires an adaptation of acting technique as there are no traditional camera angles to capture their performance from different angles.


Editing and stitching 360° footage is more time-consuming and complex than traditional video, and ultimately post-production needs to ensure that the different camera angles are stitched together seamlessly to create a coherent image. Stitching errors or visible seams can destroy the illusion and should not be neglected in 360° video production. Camera work for 360° videos is therefore not only a question of technical skill, but also one of creative vision and careful execution. It requires specialized software and skills to blend the various camera shots into a seamless experience. These stitching software solutions are usually provided by 360° camera manufacturers. However, if you want more creative control over stitching, you'll need to turn to more expensive software solutions like Mistika VR or Nuke.

Sound design:

The sound in the 360° video creates an acoustic backdrop that lends depth to the visual content. It serves as an invisible signpost and can intuitively guide viewers through the action, with targeted sounds and dialog coming from specific directions. This creates a more realistic and engaging experience.

Immersive sound is recorded using special microphone arrangements that capture spatial sound from all directions. Ambisonic microphones that record a 360-degree soundscape are essential to create a multidimensional audio experience that complements virtual reality.

Spectator experience:

Not everyone is familiar with interacting with 360° videos. It can be confusing or overwhelming for some viewers to have to look around the scene to follow the story.

The viewer experience with 360° videos can be enhanced by Motion Sickness especially if the movement in the video does not correspond to the physical movement of the viewer. This can lead to discomfort. The optimal overall length of VR films is also an important factor. Content that is too long can be tiring and increase the risk of discomfort, so VR experiences tend to be shorter to maximize comfort and engagement.



The production of 360° content therefore requires a rethink in many areas of film production and presents creatives with new and exciting challenges.

Examples of virtual reality and 360° films in the film industry

In recent years, some remarkable VR projects in the film industry have redefined the way we experience movies. Here are a few examples:

  • Carne y Arena: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu presents a VR installation that makes the harsh reality of refugees and immigrants tangible.
  • The Lion King VR: For the remake of the Disney classic 'The Lion King', director Jon Favreau used VR technology to make the cinematic world accessible to the film crew.
  • Ready Player One VR: Based on Steven Spielberg's movie, this experience allows users to immerse themselves in the OASIS and become part of the sci-fi world.
  • Henry: A VR short film by Oculus Story Studio that tells an emotional story about a lonely hedgehog looking for friendship.
  • The Martian VR Experience: Based on the film 'The Martian', users can slip into the role of Mark Watney and experience the challenges on Mars for themselves.
  • Traveling While Black: A VR documentary that explores the restrictions and difficulties faced by the African-American community during the Jim Crow era in the USA.

These examples show that VR is more than just a means of entertainment; it is a powerful tool that can be used to evoke empathy and tell complex stories in a way that the audience not only observes, but experiences.

clarence dadson

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Clarence Dadson CEO Design4real