Raindance Film Festival: 25th Anniversary | Blend Media

The Raindance Film Festival just celebrated its 25th anniversary and also marked another major milestone by including VR content as part of the main Awards for the very first time.

Blend Media supported the Raindance VRX Summit, dedicated to showcasing world-leading innovation in VR content. And I was proud to be a judge of The Best Branded VR Experience Award. Check out the full list of winners here.

It was a great time to judge the award, there are so many passionate and inspiring creatives who are experimenting and doing amazing things that would never have been possible with flat video. With so much diversity and innovation, I wanted to share some views on what sets great VR video and, more specifically, 360º video apart.

Turning passive viewers into active viewers

VR and 360º video offers a deeper experience for audiences, giving them greater control over what they are looking at and how they want to watch it. For brands to make the most of these unique qualities, it’s important to give the viewer as much of an active role as possible, allowing them to explore deeper into the brand story in a way that feels natural.

To do this, it is possible to overlay additional content within a 360º video and VR environment which can be clickable or hyperlinked to create opportunities for viewers to gain more information or potentially go on to purchase.

An example of this is Universal Music Group, which used 360º video to promote its Summer Festival Albums. The experience brings up the different names of the featured artists and an embedded fixed-frame video that the viewer can click to play. It’s then possible to hit a ‘buy now’ button to purchase that album. The campaign gives the viewer the option to choose to dive deeper by actively participating in the story increasing the likelihood they will then go on to purchase.

Creating an emotional journey

As VR and 360º video are able to offer a fuller representation of the scene and a more “real” experience, it’s possible to build a deeper emotional connection with audiences. As a result, the charity sector is one of the biggest sectors experimenting with the medium. A number of charitable organisations are using immersive content to create compelling stories that put a viewer in someone else’s shoes to achieve impact.

Greenpeace has been working on a campaign to take viewers to the heart of its work in places such as the Amazon or the Arctic, all via a mobile app called ‘Virtual Explorer’. This app brings audiences closer to the places that Greenpeace is trying to protect and helps build emotional engagement with the cause. Through a partnership with Facebook, Greenpeace was also able to post some of these VR videos using a ‘donate’ button to boost donations. The powerful use of the immersive qualities of VR combined with a call to action make for highly effective VR and 360º video campaigns.


Making the most of the 360˚ environment

Unlike regular video, 360˚ environments provide a far greater canvas to create user experiences. Research shows that 360º video has higher repeat viewership and the reason for this is because viewers can enjoy a different experience each time they watch the same piece of content making them more likely to return and watch again. They are therefore increasingly likely to take action, and research also shows that 360˚ video offers five time higher click through rate than regular video. The best branded 360º video and VR plays to this strength, by including rewards and new items to discover within the sphere, providing different opportunities to surprise, delight and tell compelling brand stories.

It was fantastic to see how brands applied these techniques in their creative campaigns as part of judging the Raindance Film Festival Awards, and I am just as excited to see how the medium continues to evolve in the coming years.

The Blend Media team has also been working hard to create our brand new web editing and publishing tool called ‘360 stories’. This innovative, easy-to-use tool enables anyone to build rich interactive 360˚experiences that can be shared across the web and other social networks.

We therefore decided to create a ‘360 story’ to showcase our involvement at Raindance Film Festival.

Check it out below.