Why would you want to shoot anything above 4K, even for VR?
This is a question I have heard several times. It makes sense to me, so maybe I can help others understand from my point of view. I see it as a simple math problem that is based on the viewer output to the user’s eyes. Most people think of shooting 6K video as overkill as there are very few things that can view a 6K video. That is the first problem in understanding VR, and its required higher resolutions. 360VR Video is based on what the audience sees. So, let’s look at this from the end user’s point of view, to understand it better.
Since 360VR is produced for viewing in Goggles or on a 2d screen adapted for VR (Facebook 360 and YouTube 360 both have this feature), the audience is only viewing a portion of the media at one time. They are seeing a 1080HD frame of a 4K media set, and in some cases even less resolution is being seen. So there is a problem with 1080HD and VR. It is not immersive enough to keep the magic of 360VR alive. The end user fails to be completely immersed, or can only sustain immersion for a minute or less.
You have to realize that immersion requires a lot of things to be exactly right for a long enough time that the audience can “experience” the immersion properly.
If we have a 6K media set, the user can now see a more densified 1440 resolution frame in their goggles. This increases potential immersion and duration of that immersion, because it is more believable to the brain. The essence of what we are trying to do when we produce a 360VR experiential media set, is to trick the brain into believing it is inside our media set’s environment. That requires enough video resolution, audio quality, and framerate to make the brain believe what the eyes and ears experience. Added factors can be smell, wind, movement, and touch. Most productions will only have vision and hearing to play with. So that being said, the higher the resolution of the media set, the better chance of immersing the audience using just those two senses.
So if POV is around 30 fps, why do we need 60fps for VR?
That is a simple mathematical dynamic of the brain as well. POV, or “persistence of vision” is at a speed where our brain can naturally understand motion between “frames” of a movie or video. It is the sweet spot where the brain sees smooth motion and perceives no frames being dropped or missing. In VR we are trying to “trick” the mind into believing that it is there, in the moment we captured. To do that we need more than persistence, we need to simulate the real world data stream that the natural world provides for our eyes. We need to project more information than is needed to mimic natural environments. Using 60fps helps immersion become maintained more easily due to the brain being more encumbered by the amount of information it is processing. If your brain focuses on one part of the immersion enough, the experience becomes more trancelike and blocks out things that usually tend to ruin the immersion.