There’s no denying that 360 video is cool, but the files required are large and can really bog down if you’re watching them online. Now, Facebook has developed a way to compress the videos by as much as 80 percent without any loss in quality.
That might sound incredible, but it’s just the smart application of a little math. In a video published on Facebook, software engineer David Pio explains that the new technique thinks about the video as a cube or pyramid rather than a sphere.
While VR surrounds the user with a spherical world shown from one spot, it can be well-represented on a screen by stretching the footage out onto a cubic or pyramidal frame, as shown in the gif above. In fact what Facebook does is create a series of different videos based on different viewpoints—essentially subtly different sides of the cube—all of which are stored on its servers. It then streams one second segments of video, depending on the orientation of the view.
That process is claimed to make the video that’s sent down the pipes to your device up to 80 percent smaller, “without sacrificing quality or resolution.” You’ll probably still want wi-fi, though.