Facebook on Tuesday announced several updates to its live-streaming platform, including a new hardware and software vetting program used to create 360-degree video.
Through its new Live 360 Ready Program, Facebook will review hardware and software and approve products that work well with its Live 360 offering. Products deemed “ready” for Live 360 will be allowed to display a Facebook Live logo on their packaging or website.
“Each camera’s app or Web experience will enable you to interact with your friends and followers through direct access to Facebook’s native reactions and comments,” noted Facebook Product Manager Chetan Gupta and Product Marketing Manager Caitlin Ramrakha in an online post.
Facebook has approved 11 cameras and seven software suites so far.
Live 360 Ready cameras included Giroptic iO, Insta360 Nano, Insta360 Air, Insta360 Pro, ION360 U, Nokia Ozo, Z CAM S1, 360Fly HD, 360Fly 4K and 360Fly 4K Pro.
Live 360 Ready software packages included Assimilate SCRATCH VR, Groovy Gecko, LiveScale, Teradek, Voysys, Wowza and Z CAM WonderLive.
“The way we communicate is getting more and more visual, and live 360 video is the richest medium of all,” said JK Liu, CEO of Insta360, maker of a Live 360 Ready camera.
“We’re excited to bring Facebook users a way to go live in 360 that fits in seamlessly with the way they already use their phones,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Facebook also announced that Live 360 streams will support 4K resolution. What’s more, it will be available in virtual reality.
“Live 360 broadcasts will be available to watch in VR — both while they’re happening and after they’re over — in our free Facebook 360 app for Gear VR, available on the Oculus Store,” Gupta and Ramrakha wrote.
Resolution has been frustrating for some 360 video content providers on Facebook, said Chris Michaels, streaming industry evangelist at Wowza Media Systems, a Live 360 Ready software maker.
“One of the biggest challenges for content creators has been delivering in a high enough resolution to provide breathtaking 360 degree experiences,” he told TechNewsWorld.”With 4K, we don’t have to worry about rendering down high-quality video and can deliver it at its optimal design rate.”
Facebook also will be adding donate buttons and scheduling to Live 360.
Donate buttons allow nonprofits to raise funds when they stream a Live 360 broadcast — either their own or someone else’s.
Scheduling allows Live 360 broadcasters to alert their friends and followers of an upcoming broadcast. The alert is posted to their news feeds, where they can choose to receive a reminder alert when the broadcast is about to start.
Facebook announced a number of new post-production tools for Live 360 as well.
If it detects shakiness in a video, Facebook will use its stablization tool to steady it.
With the guide tool, a video author can identify points of interest in a video and direct viewers to them.
If you’re wondering what parts of your video most engage your audience, there’s a heatmap tool that shows you that.
Finally, there’s a crossport tool for broadening the distribution of your video.
The latest updates to Live 360 are a content play, said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
“It’s about encouraging content and ensuring a level of compatibility and quality control over that content,” he told TechNewsWorld.
The updates also are a way to help Facebook compete with YouTube.
“Being a video platform rival to YouTube has been a longstanding goal of Facebook,” Rubin said.
The upgrades are aimed more at professional video and advanced content creators than mainstream users, noted Jack Kent, a senior analyst with IHS Markit.
However, they “should increase the amount of Live 360 content for Facebook users,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Facebook has been expanding its 360 video and live video strategies rapidly in recent months, Kent pointed out.
“It rolled out Live 360 to all pages earlier this year,” he said, “and integrated with a range of leading camera makers and added new audio tools. The new Live 360 Ready Program aims to extend support for a wider range of third-party software and devices.”