Virtual reality audiences stare straight ahead 75% of the time

YouTube's advice to turn heads is 'make better videos'. Literally. That's all they've got

Google's sample heat map for VR videos
A YouTube heat map of where viewers devote their attention during a virtual reality video

YouTube's revealed the secret to making an engaging virtual reality video: put the best parts right in front of the audience so they don't have to move their heads.

Google's video vault offers that advice on the basis of heat maps it's created based on analysis of where VR viewers point their heads while wearing VR goggles. There's just such a heat map at the top of this story (or here for m.reg readers) and a bigger one here.

The many heat maps YouTube has made lead it to suggest that VR video creators “Focus on what’s in front of you: The defining feature of a 360-degree video is that it allows you to freely look around in any direction, but surprisingly, people spent 75% of their time within the front 90 degrees of a video. So don’t forget to spend significant time on what’s in front of the viewer.”

YouTube also advises that “for many of the most popular VR videos, people viewed more of the full 360-degree space with almost 20% of views actually being behind them.” Which sounds to El Reg like VR viewers are either staring straight ahead or looking over their shoulders, with very little time being devoted to sideways glances.

Google therefore offers the following sage advice for those who want to set heads swiveling: “Get their attention … The more engaging the full scene is, the more likely viewers will want to explore the full 360-degree view.”

Which gets The Register celebrating, yet again, that it's possible to harness countless thousands of servers so they analyse countless thousands of videos and then tell us that getting people interested in movies can best be accomplished by making good movies.

What a time to be alive. ®


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