As affordable virtual reality headsets continue their slow but inevitable march toward ubiquity, videography outfits are scrambling to get on the ground floor of content distribution. We’ve seen cartoony films from Oculus’ in-house Story Studio, interactive stories from Google’s ATAP division, live Coldplay concerts, and YouTube and Facebook videos so far, and now another giant’s joining the fray. In a statement released this morning morning, Seattle-based Getty Images announced its intention to make “premium 360 degree imagery” available for the Oculus headset.
Virtual reality photos from Getty Images will live in a new section of the Oculus 360 Photos app: 360° View by Getty Images. It’ll feature “high-quality,” “exclusive” 360-degree snaps from such storied events as the Cannes Film Festival and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. A handful of VR footage launches today, but Getty Images says new and exotic imagery from foreign locales, glamorous red carpets, and the playing fields of major sports will be added “continually.”
“Captured by the world’s best photographers, we have unrivalled 360 degree imagery and it is exhilarating to see this content fuel the next generation of virtual reality experiences,” said Hugh Pinney, VP of Editorial content for Getty Images. “The 360° View by Getty Images collection enables a deeply engaging experience in virtual reality, a technology poised to transform the way individuals interact with the visual world.”
You might not associate Getty Images with virtual reality, but it turns out the company’s been experimenting with 360-degree captures since 2012. The firm filmed the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the Cricket World Cup, and the most recent Oscars using a combination of autonomous and airborne cameras. It makes sense; if any company has the funding and expertise to put out VR footage on hardware like Oculus at a regular beat, it’s Getty Images. The company employs thousands of experienced photographers and has a valuation of $3.3 billion.
“Getty Images has always been at the forefront of innovation, employing the latest, cutting-edge technologies to bring out customers best-in-class imagery from the world’s top creative minds and global events as they happen,” said Pinney. “We know that consumers love our imagery so we are thrilled to be working with Oculus to offer a truly immersive and social experience on their market-leading platform.”
Can’t wait to experience the new footage? You don’t have to. It launches today on Samsung’s Gear VR Innovator Edition for the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6.