The library of VR content is growing by the hour, and YouTube is playing a huge role in supporting 360-degree and virtual reality videos with its 360 hub.
Essential reading: The best VR headsets
Otherwise you can watch these videos by using the app directly on your device. Here's our pick of the best 360 degree vidoes to wow yourself with right now.
AMC's The Terror
AMC has a new horror show about a crew of a doomed ship in the Arctic. What better way to promote something terrifying than to put you into the terrifying situation? Enter this 360 video, taking you through the ship as you listen to the crew slowly lose their minds. And hey, at least you'll get to check out an Arctic sunset.
Inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Odyssey VR is a trippy journey through spacetime itself. While you start off in claustrophobic tunnels, you're soon let out into a world that looks like something from the mind of Jack Kirby.
Once Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution happened, many of Iran's greatest artists fled the country. Now living in exile, this short 360 doc takes you into their studios and introduces you to their journeys, giving you a look at contemporary Iran in the process.
NASA Atlas V launch
NASA and NOAA worked together to launch the new GOES-S satellite up into space. Just so happens that NASA recorded it in immersive 360, giving you an up-close and personal view of the Atlas V rocket launching into space.
Over in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, near the Caroline Islands, there is Truk Lagoon. It's said to be the largest ship cemetery in the world, and now you can fully explore it in this 360 video from AirPano. This one is for you ruinporn obsessives.
No, this isn't a VR-ready look into the huge court case between Uber and Waymo. It's a 360 video that lets you see how Google's fleet of self-driving cars sees the world. You'll "sit" right on top of the car's LIDAR systems and view the world as machine vision sees the world, complete with lots of little graphics pointing out absolutely everything in sight. There is no better way to learn about self-driving technology than this.
NBA 360: Donovan Mitchell's winning dunk
The NBA has long been interested in virtual reality and 360 filmmaking, so it's no surprise that it would decide to take one of the most exciting events on All Star Weekend, the Dunk Contest, and turn it into a 360 video. In this case, you'll get to see all the dunks of winner Donovan Mitchell. Sit courtside as this mountain of a man charges to the hoop and seemingly defies the laws of physics.
You know what National Geographic is all about. They use the power of imagery to show you a place or a culture you might have never, ever known about. In this case, they've decided to use 360 video to place you alongside some lions. Aren't they adorable?
The Champions League Final
Fox Sports aired the 2017 Champions League final in VR, and they've opted to cut together a short video compiling all the best moments in one. So now, if you need to try to convince someone whether watching an entire football match in VR is worth it, you can just watch this and have them figure it out for themselves.
Inside the Box of Kurios
Leave it to Cirque du Soleil to do something both transfixing and bizarre. They've gone ahead and created a full VR experience you can have on Oculus, but if you need just a taste you can turn to this short experience. It's not going to satisfy you're, uh, curiosity for Kurios, but isn't that the point?
The Late Show's 360 Tour
Follow Stephen Colbert behind the scenes of The Late Show. He'll walk you backstage, tell you some pieces of history behind the legendary Ed Sullivan Theater and even show you what his rituals are before he heads out to greet his audience every night. It's a fun, entertaining peek behind the curtain.
Take a Tropical Break
Mahalo! Need a little break from the doldrums of everyday life? This video takes you on a tour of Hawaii in VR, from the most beautiful waterfalls and vistas to the most gorgeous beaches. And that's not all, you'll dive into both the warm Hawaiian waters and the culture of the island.
Rainbow Good Boy
MysteryGuitarMan is one of the more unique YouTubers out there, experimenting with stop motion and other video formats more than most. His 360 creation is Rainbow Good Boy, an ode to Sonic and Mario games from the Sega Genesis and SNES era. It's colorful, fun and fast.
You've binged the TV show, now experience the VR version. Ok, so this is just a short taste of the popular Netflix series, but it's an effective one, putting you inside the home of the missing Will Byers. Prepare for some serious jump scares.
Google Spotlight: HELP
Fast Five and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin put together this short film for Google's Spotlight Story program in 2016, and it's still one of the more ambitious live action VR shorts out there. Lin opts to use 360 cameras to put you in what feels like a big budget blockbuster, with an alien hellbent on chasing you through the subway. It's absolutely thrilling.
Surrounded by Dominoes
You already know how satisfying it is to watch a complex set of dominoes systematically collapse. That sound, that feeling of watching something crumble. But what if someone set up dominoes around you, and then you could watch them slowly fall around you? That's what this video is, and it may be one of the more satisfying uses of 360 photography yet. Bonus points for reversing the dominoes at the end. Alternatively, check out GoPro's video surrounding you with soda and Mentos explosions.
Blowing Up a Postal Van
One of the cool things about VR and 360 video is that it can put you in an experience you wouldn't be able to get before. In the case of this video from MythBusters, that's a couple yards away from a postal van filled with explosives. Not only do you get to experience the explosion from the safety of your own home, the video guides you through the explosion frame by frame, millisecond by millisecond.
VR and nature conservation truly go hand-in-hand and this video should convince you. Join Ronald Mambrasar, an indigenous fisherman-turned-coral-scientist, and his son, Valen as they tell their story and take you on an amazing journey under the ocean.
Notes on Blindness
This short film has been around for awhile but was recently recreated for VR by Arte Experience. After decades of steady sight deterioration, writer and theologian John Hull became totally blind. He began documenting his experiences on audio cassette which is how the film and this project were born. His original diary recordings form the basis of the six-part interactive non fiction project using gameplay mechanics and virtual reality to explore his emotional experience of blindness. It's an incredibly fascinating and moving experience that you can't miss.
Pac-Man is one intense game, but experiencing it in first person is enough to send our blood pressure through the roof. Sadly this version of the arcade classic isn't playable, but it does a neat job of putting you in the shoes (yes he does have shoes, look it up) of the round yellow gobbler. Just keep an eye over your shoulder for those ghosts.
A neat video by motion artist/filmmaker Quba Michalski in which you're inside gravity-less chambers and in the middle of a series of experiments (which pop up on a kind of HUD). It looks awesome and is a genuinely cool little experience, with binaural audio as a bonus. In 2D and stereoscopic 3D.
Skydiving with the GoPro Bombsquad
This Blue Skies spherical experience lets you hang out mid-air with skydivers/wingsuiters. The beginning of the 3 minute 30 second vid feels a bit odd as you realise you're basically on one of their heads, but there are some cool slow-mo tricks towards the end. Very neat.
Anything from The NY Times
The New York Times 360 video series is one of the best uses of the format right now, offering bitesized stories that are made all the more engaging with added immersion. Unlike this awesome video that lets you soar with a golden eagle, they'll also do deeper pieces every week.
More VR goodies from around the site
- The best VR apps and games for iPhoneTop downloads to try out with mobile VR viewers
- How to watch VR pornEverybody wants some
- Are VR headsets safe for kids? We investigateWe take a look at the potential risks of VR for young eyes and minds
- Nokia's OZO Reality wants to put an end to bad VR videosNokia is setting a higher standard for VR production and distribution
Five Nights at Freddy's
Another one for the fear fans. Five Nights at Freddy's has become a point-and-click hit, and now it's even scarier thanks to VR. As the description reads, you need to find Freddy before he finds you - just try not to scream.
GoPro Spherical: Land, Air, and Sea – A Virtual Reality Experience
GoPro again and it's really making a mark in the VR world. The company made a 16-camera rig specifically for virtual reality and this 360-degree intro video lets you search around as "GoPro Heroes" travel across the sea, sail through the air, and climb rock faces on land.
Grand Canyon 360° Video by 360 Labs
You can float down the Colorado River inside the Grand Canyon in this immersive VR adventure. Start off in calm waters and quickly get blasted in the rough whitewater rapids of the Hance, Granite, and Hermit. If you've always wanted to try an adventure on the rapids, but are a bit scared, this video will give you a sense of what it's like without the wet side effects.
One Republic - Kids
Shot on the dearly departed Nokia OZO, One Republic's 360 music video is probably one of the best. You slowly glide from one room to another, with the band playing a concert in an alley in between two, well, kids going through a cute love story. This might be one of the more creative 360 videos we've seen.
Rediscover ancient Egypt
Take a virtual trip to modern Cairo in the shadow of the great Giza pyramids. After some gorgeous cinematography of these world wonders, you'll be treated to a report about the changing nature of the area around them. If you've ever want to travel to Egypt to see the pyramids, you owe it to yourself to check this out.
Be the Bee
Bees are, like, super important to how our ecologies work. You probably learned all of this in elementary school, but have you ever seen the process, from beginning to end? The National Honey Board wants to show you, in 360. You'll be a bee flying from flower to flower, then going back into the hive with the queen bee. After that, you'll take a look at how they get the honey out of the honeycombs and onto your table. Warning: Tons of buzzing.
Let us know what you've been watching on YouTube 360 in the comments.
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