Walking through the halls of the Anaheim Convention Center in California to cover my first VidCon, the official fan fest for online content creators and their fans, I was immediately struck by its dichotomy. It’s essentially NAB meets Comic-Con, with a fan floor, and also a creator’s floor for those looking to learn how to get better at this emerging field of video. And this is the year where we start to see the heavy hitters like Canon, RØDE, and even RED test the waters.
Ever since vLoggers John Green and his brother Hank launched the confab eight years ago, VidCon has grown from 1200 attendees in 2010, to an estimated 26,500 in 2016. In addition, over 300 content creators featured main stage presentations with breakout sessions, plus concerts featuring musicians who achieved success primarily by presenting their music via online videos.
This year, major brands like Disney Digital, Food Network, and NBC have a major presence here, and Kodak, Switcher Studio, and others have booths here showcasing cameras and other equipment ,and how they can help rising streaming content creators (aka, ‘YouTubers’) shoot their videos. Even DJI is here with their drone booth, showing off their latest DJI Spark personal drone, and giving presentations on how this UAV can add production value to their videos with a simple hand gesture.
So not only is VidCon a place to rub elbows with your favorite YouTubers, and I’ve met many of own favorites, but also a place to network and see what’s the latest in technology and techniques to create online content.
And it’s usually the place where Google / YouTube makes a keynote announcement on where they’re going for the next year. At Wednesday’s opening keynote, they announced their latest virtual reality device, the VR180, which they hope will be how people watch immersive virtual content online.
The idea is most viewers like the idea behind the immersion of virtual reality and 360 video, but hate having to keep their heads on a swivel constantly looking around for fear of missing something. YouTube says that most simple ignore what’s going on behind them because it gets tiresome after awhile. So their solution is to simply cut the virtual spectrum in half, and only offer 180 degrees of video.
Essentially, VR180 focuses the action on what is in front of the viewer, much like traditional flat story telling, but will also give viewers the ability to turn up to 90 degrees either side of their field of vision. The benefits are that VR180 will effectively double the resolution for the content presentation, but will give audiences the best of both worlds. It will also allow YouTube to drastically cut down on bandwidth. And it may just work.
Google expects the VR180 to hit the market soon (click here for more information), but a 4K 360 degree camera like GoPro’s new Fusion, the Samsung Gear VR, and Kodak’s Orbit 360 4K already have the capability to dedicate in camera for ultra wide video, and GoPro has the inside track with their new OverCapture feature to punch out a flat video in HD, to then grade in post.
YouTube also announced that their live streaming TV service is a success, and within the next few weeks, they will be expanding to ten more markets in the U.S. The new markets will include Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte.
So whether your a fan of online video or a creator of it, VidCon is the place to be for both.