Bill Gates interviews Neal Stephenson in 360 video

Bill Gates just posted a review of Neal Stephenson’s book Seveneves. He also includes a 360 degree view interview of Neal- I’m pretty sure he is trying to mimic “comedians in cars getting coffee” except its “geeks in cars getting burgers”. They drive by various things like two guys just happen to be sword fighting in a park next to the road. 🙂 I assume the Tesla is Neil’s since the license is “7eves”.

I was able to watch this just fine on the Vive using this experimental Chromium build.

Two noticeable things about the video in VR. First of all the low framerate (I assume 30fps) of the video becomes really noticeable. You just don’t really see the difference much on a normal display but something about it in VR makes it look really bad. I assume they are updating the head tracking at 90fps but if they aren’t doing that it could explain why its so bad. I noticed the same thing in the new Disney Movies VR app. Getting higher frame rate video seems to be one of the big challenges for this stuff to be successful- the frame rate seems like a bigger issue than the resolution yet none of the cameras I’ve seen have focused on that at all (typically maxing out at 60 fps which can be even worse because you go 2:3 frames since the HMD displays at 90hz).

Second, its kind of a pain to swivel around since the direction that things are happening keeps changing. The notion of “immersive video” is a neat one, but I’m not sure you actually want action in 360 degrees. It is much more comfortable to keep the action in 180 (or a bit less) degrees but just take advantage of that full FOV and ability to attract the viewers attention in their peripheral vision. So many early “VR videos” that I’ve seen really try to take advantage of the full 360 degrees and it seems like a mistake (similar to how early 3d movies overdid the effect of sticking something in the viewer’s face).

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