NET, Nebraska’s PBS station, has started using a 360-degree video camera to document life in the Cornhusker State.
The new technology simultaneously records video in multiple directions, allowing individuals to control the viewing direction during playback. NET is producing the videos with multiple wide-angle lenses, merging the separate footage into a single, spherical, high-resolution piece. The immersive video is designed to put viewers in the middle of the shot.
“Media is changing and we’re striving to use new technology to create high-quality content,” said Mark Leonard, NET’s general manager. “Nebraskans are forward thinking, and we want to use innovation to benefit learners of all ages.”
NET has been experimenting with this new approach to video production for more than a year and plans to begin rolling out new content. The first piece released is a performance by the Chiara String Quartet, which is currently Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Glenn Korff School of Music.
“We’re extremely fortunate to be able to experiment with Chiara on this project,” said Chad Davis, NET’s assistant general manager of digital. “They gave us a world-class program and we got to experiment with cutting edge media technology. It was a perfect blend of art and innovation.”
The 360-degree videos are best viewed through the Facebook app via a mobile device, or through the Chrome browser via a computer. Although no special equipment is required, smartphones can be used to explore the videos by tilting and moving the phone. The immersive experience can be enhanced by using a virtual reality headset.
“Our experiments are helping us produce new content smarter and faster,” Davis said. “We’re taking everything we’re learning about lighting, camera angles and post production to get better and more efficient. It’s exciting to be at the beginning of this new approach to production.”
The NET 360-degree videos will feature digital-first projects and content in support of traditional media production. Three upcoming stories, which are being developed alongside NET News, will explore unique Nebraska habitats, including the Platte River Rainwater Basin; the Loess Canyons in Lincoln, Dawson and Frontier counties; and Indian Cave bluffs along the Missouri River. The series will air July 18-20 on NET radio and be accompanied by video later this month.
Future plans include creating 360-degree videos for learners of all ages. NET is also working with the College of Journalism and Mass Communications students to scout locations for 360-degree video projects.