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Travel 360: the thrill of speed-flying in virtual reality

Ed Miller, head of visuals at immersiv.ly, took a 360-degree video rig to the slopes, and to the air, over Val Thorens, in the French Alps. Join him at the heart of the action as he glides by ski and through the air

By Edward Miller

Speed-flying is a pretty red-blooded mix of paragliding and skiing, where participants half fly, half ski, down the slopes. The six GoPro cameras we typically use to capture footage were light enough and small enough to be taken on an exciting descent of the Three Valleys resort, in France.

In making 360-degree video over the past few years, we have developed a set of rules within the virtual reality community regarding immersive video. Avoiding camera shake is pretty much rule number one. Generally, any non-linear movement in virtual reality that isn’t a direct result of a person moving their body, will make that viewer suffer from what we call “simulation sickness” and should be avoided at every cost. Skiing down a mountain while carrying a 360 degree camera on a long pole should definitely be out of the question then. But 360-degree video isn’t just for virtual reality headsets.



The people who view 360-degree video with a VR smartphone adapter or head mounted display still make up a slim percentage of users. Most viewers will be watching such videos in their Facebook feed or YouTube app, browsing on their computer or mobile. Once you have the rulebook, you can decide when to deliberately break those rules.

While this video might not be the most comfortable video to view using a virtual reality headset, when viewed on a flat screen, it still expresses the joy I felt as I skied down the mountain before taking flight. It allows the viewer to fly alongside and experience the exhilaration of touching down mid-flight. It allows viewers to feel as if they were along for the ride and I think in the end, giving people new experiences is what immersive video is all about.

You can join me on the slopes, in 360-degree video, on our YouTube channel or at MilkVR.

Edward Miller
Written by Edward Miller

Edward Miller is head of visuals at immersiv.ly and filmed and edited our first news documentary in 360-degree video, Hong Kong Unrest, and Shakespeare360, our virtual reality performance of a scene from Twelfth Night. Read more articles by Edward Miller...