VR should always be stereoscopic

Why does it matter for companies to stop calling images or videos in 360 monoscopic format, VR?

Most of the current applications available for Oculus GearVR and PC, claim the ability to be able to put you into a different world. This is the heart of Virtual Reality. Some of those applications recreate the virtual experience using a real time engine, such as Unity or Unreal, and some others use 360 spheres, whether prerendered CGI, photography or video. But unlike in real life, most of those applications (not all of them - congrats to those who are calling a spade a spade) project the exact same image for each eye, therefore, our brain can't process the information in 3D. The lack of depth on our visual senses makes the experience flat and not truly immersive. These applications are often masqueraded as 'VR'.

Why is this bad? VR is a newly emerging medium, and 2016 will be the year that millions and millions of people around the world will be trying VR for the first time. With all the expectation of what true Virtual Reality should be, based on its dotted appearances throughout popular culture over the past 30 years, it's going to be a disappointing first experience for someone to think they are trying 'Virtual Reality', when all they are really trying is 'looking at something through some weird goggles'.

Diluting someone's ideas of what Virtual Reality could be by showing them 360 monoscopics will lead to people saying things like 'I tried VR, but wasn't very impressed', or 'I tried VR and didn't really get why people are so excited', or 'man that sucked... let's go to the pub'. By all means use a headset to display your video, but call it what it is. It's 360 Video, that you can watch through a VR headset. It is not VR and never will be.

It is not an easy task to create true stereo vision, and there are many technical limitations to capture the real world in stereoscopic 360 images or videos. There are however solutions out there, and we're hoping to see some better off the shelf solutions coming out this year. But so far it is limited, and you have to think outside the box to get a good result. 

At Viewport Studios, we have been through this problem and we have developed our own stereoscopic camera rig, which allows us to capture action scenes through to landscape scenes, shooting in all lighting and weather conditions. Download the application below, which showcases some of the coastline near Perth, Western Australia, to see some true stereoscopic VR photography. The application is designed for use with the Oculus Rift, and was made for Pindan as a lifestyle sales tool for their Real Estate division.