Facebook drives 360 video with new 4K support and Gear VR integration

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Facebook has upgraded its Facebook Live platform with new support for 4K video in 360 degrees, so you can record higher-quality video than ever before for viewing on smart devices and VR headsets. Taking things a step further, it’s also enabled live playback for Gear VR users, as well as added a new camera certification program.

Although 360-degree video has the potential to become the video standard of the future, with much greater presence than fixed-perspective, 2D video, it’s currently a nascent technology. Part of that is due to a lack of proliferation of platforms to experience it on, but a lack of resolution of recording devices doesn’t help either. A 1080p resolution might be great for standard video, but when stretched throughout 360 degrees, it doesn’t look so good.

To help people find the right kind of high-quality, 360-degree camera for them, Facebook’s new certification program will give the thumbs up to certain devices, citing them as “Life 360 Ready.” As TechCrunch highlights, current standout recommendations include the Garmin VIRB 360, Giroptic iO 360, Insta360 Nano, and Nokia Ozoa Orah 4i, among others.

Some of the recommended cameras can record at 4K resolution, too, so Facebook now supports that on its Live broadcasting platform, making it easier to record and view high-quality, 360-degree video. To improve the experience further, it’s also added the ability to view those broadcasts on its Facebook 360 app using a Gear VR headset.

One issue with watching video in a virtual reality headset, though, is that a change in perspective can make it quite uncomfortable viewing. Although edited cuts are one thing, general shakiness is an unpleasant side effect of portable 360-degree cameras and accessories. To that end, Facebook is also introducing a new stabilizing effect, which will be offered at the end of a live-stream. After a recording is complete, if Facebook detects much shake in the video, it will give streamers a chance to automatically stabilize it.

Content creators will soon be able to see heatmaps of when and where their videos saw the most user engagement too, helping them target videos at specific user groups. Other changes include the addition of new fundraising buttons for charity streams and the ability to schedule live-streams to generate hype for upcoming broadcasts.