As promised at its December launch, Facebook has now enabled Live 360 video streaming globally on all Profiles and Pages, allowing anyone with a 360 camera to broadcast live. The global roll-out introduces a wider range of camera compatibility, and spatial audio has been added.
Building on Facebook Live, a video streaming service introduced in 2015, 360-degree livestreaming was an inevitable combination of technologies, as 360 video playback has been supported in the News Feed since 2015. The world’s largest social network, with 1.87 billion monthly active users, Facebook has aggressively pursued live media as an essential pillar of the service, staying competitive with the likes of Twitter and YouTube as a live streaming platform.
The company continues to push livestreaming hard; it’s a top priority, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently obsessed with the format. Livestreamed 360 video was introduced on selected pages last year, but now any individual, group or ‘page’ can start broadcasting in seconds. All you need is a compatible camera; the list of which now includes several consumer-level products: the new Samsung Gear 360 (2017), Giroptic IO, Insta360 Nano/Air, and ALLie Camera, as well the professional-grade Z CAM S1 and Nokia Ozo.
Livestreamed 360 video doesn’t specifically target VR; the feature is not available yet (but you can replay the recorded video on a headset after the fact), and many of the currently-supported cameras don’t capture stereoscopic 3D. Plus, the 1920×960 target resolution, 30fps frame rate and 4 Mbps target bitrate for live 360 video is far from an ideal specification for VR. However, the introduction of spatial audio support is a clear step in that direction; 360-degree sound is an immersion-enhancer that is most effective when heard from within a VR headset. As noted on the Facebook Media Blog post, cameras with integrated support for spatial audio in Live 360 are coming soon, and they’ll be introducing ways to include it manually through an ambisonic microphone.
A step-by-step downloadable guide and best practices for livestreaming in 360 are available on the Live 360 page.