I was very excited to learn that, as of this month, Vimeo began supporting 360 video. I manage websites for several independent media producers and non-profits, and due to its friendly UI, lack of advertising overlays, and affordable ‘plus’ and ‘business’ plans, Vimeo is often the go-to choice for hosting videos. A crucial feature for many clients is the ability to replace videos when there is a last-minute edit without losing views or changing the URL—a total lifesaver when you discover a typo in the credits after you’ve already sent the link out in a newsletter.
While Vimeo gives you more control over your videos and looks hip, it is not known for being on the cutting edge of new technologies. Owned by IAC (which also owns Tinder, Dictionary.com, and College Humor), Vimeo is unable—and doesn’t try—to compete with the R&D department at Google, which owns YouTube. Vimeo lagged years behind YouTube in supporting 4K playback, still lacks a good solution for embedding playlists, and doesn’t allow live streaming or 3D video.
Like the rest of the Vimeo user experience, the new 360 player is clean and intuitive. The lack of a sidebar on individual video pages means the video appears much bigger and looks more impressive than the default YouTube player on desktop. This welcome entrance into the 360 space makes Vimeo more competitive: existing users can now move their 360 videos under the same roof, or be enticed to add 360 to their lineups.
But beyond being good for the company and its users, Vimeo’s 360 support is good for the 360 video/VR industry as a whole. Many who see virtual reality as a passing fad point to the failure of 3D TVs, which were never adopted by the mainstream despite a lot of hype. Though Vimeo is not exactly a mainstream platform, it is almost an industry standard in the creative world, like Apple was ten years ago. For Vimeo, which values simplicity and design, 360 support is a big change. Creatives should applaud it by running up bandwidth limits and uploading some huge 360 videos.
Here’s a 360 video of a Justin Hicks performance, co-presented by Performance Space 122 and the Park Avenue Armory, which I shot last week and uploaded to Vimeo: