360° Sizzle Reels

 Photo by  Nicolas Tissot  on  Unsplash

Everyone these days has a sizzle reel, from actors to multi-million dollar corporations. A sizzle reel (also called a highlight reel, demo reel, or pitch reel) is simply a tool used to show off your best work in a concise amount of time. For most businesses, a good sizzle reel consists of several very short, fast-paced clips, similar to an upbeat, intriguing movie trailer.


However, for 360° video companies like ours, executing an effective highlight reel will naturally look different. How so?


1)    You need to give the viewer ample time to look around. Jumping from one scene to the next in 5 seconds won’t work for 360. In our own sizzle reel, we give the viewer about 12-15 seconds per clip so they have a chance to experience the entire sphere.  

2)    Incorporate graphics and captions to brand your company and give potential clients an idea of what you do best. In a 360° environment, you’ll need to use these tools sparingly to avoid clutter. Also, be sure to layer the captions so your viewer has an opportunity to notice them wherever they happen to be looking. This demo reel from 360xperience uses captions very effectively.


Note: Use Chrome or Firefox to view in 360°

3)    Know your audience. If you have a niche, show it off by matching mood, music, and your best clips. On the other hand, if you’re a generalist, give your reel lots of variety so that potential clients can get a range of what you can do. This demo reel from 360 Labs highlights the company’s specialty – adventure – with upbeat music and plenty of exciting situations. 


Hope these 360° sizzle reels inspired you to create one of your own!

Fun with 360-degree time-lapse video

Who doesn’t love a great time-lapse video? They’re a staple in TV shows – at least one shows up in every single episode of Breaking Bad and HGTV’s Fixer Upper.



At Cabana VR, we love, I mean looooooooove, producing 360-degree time-lapses. They are fairly easy to set up, they look amazing, and we always have fun selecting some cool background music to accompany the final product.


Recently we received a micro-grant from CreativeMornings/Charlotte to produce a time-lapse of the Charlotte skyline at sunset. Our fixed costs were minimal, so we were actually able to make two videos from two separate hotel rooftops.


The video from the Le Meridian hotel shows the Charlotte skyline in the distance, and overlooks their rooftop bar when you scroll to the right. One of my favorite features of this video is that the headlights from the cars turn the streets into a river of flowing golden light.


The second video was shot from the top of the Aloft hotel in Charlotte’s Epicenter district. I love this one because it’s surrounded by interesting buildings on every side. At one point (cue to :12-:15), you see the sun reflecting golden light off of the Bank of America Corporate Center building. As the sun goes down and darkness sets in, the lightshow really kicks into high gear. 

As you can see, city skylines work great for a 360 time-lapse, but don’t forget about the natural beauty of a rural setting. We shot a sunset video on a beach overlooking Lake Wylie that’s just as gorgeous. 

Time-lapse also works well for capturing crowd scenes. Here is one we did at the Charlotte Christmas Village when ESPN GameDay was in town. Can you tell which teams were playing?


Insider tips for shooting a time-lapse in 360:

  • As with all 360 videos, make sure your viewers have something to look at in all directions. Our video of the skyline from the Aloft was more effective than the one that shows the skyline in the distance.
  • For the perfect sunset video, set your time-lapse to take a shot every 10 seconds. Start the video at least an hour before sunset, and let it run for several hours after the sun goes down. You can always edit for length.
  • Our go-to music source is AudioJungle from Envato Market. We’ve found some amazing royalty-free tunes for less than $20.


Have fun trying your hand at 360 time-lapse! And if you need someone to create one for you, don’t hesitate to contact CabanaVR!

How Will Facebook's New Algorithm Change Your Marketing Strategy?

 Photo by  Sticker Mule  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

Like all other social media content providers, we’ve been reading up on Facebook’s new algorithm changes and wondering what that means for brands.  There are several blogs that go into great depths to explain how the changes will impact Facebook marketing (here’s one of the most thorough, from Hootsuite), but if you have a short attention span and would like the “Cliff Notes” version, here are three big takeaways:

  1. Meaningful Interactions beat Engagement-Bait
  2. Video is King
  3. It’s Time to Spend More Money – Strategically

First, your posts need to spur on MEANINGFUL INTERACTIONS. The new algorithm recognizes engagement-bait tricks like quizzes and explicit calls to action. Facebook wants to get back to what they did well from the beginning: connecting people in meaningful (and hopefully positive) conversations. Think about how your posts can generate discussion and comments organically.


Next, VIDEO IS KING. Everything I’ve read says the same thing: Facebook will prioritize video posts more than ever over photo and text. And because they’ve invested so much into the technology, Facebook Live will be at the very top of the ladder.

What about 360-degree video? Although I haven’t read anything specific on this topic related to the latest changes, it makes sense that 360 will also get a priority boost for the same reason as Live: Facebook has pumped a ton of money into 360-degree technology (they spent 2 billion, yes, Billion with a “B”, on purchasing Oculus VR alone).

Best Practices for Video:

  • Tell a story.  People remember good stories over facts and figures.
  • Keep your content current and relevant. Teach people something new.
  • Emotionally engage with your audience.  Make them laugh, cry, nod, or smile.
  • Focus on quality. Make sure your equipment works and your wi-fi connection for live videos is strong.
  • Post your videos DIRECTLY onto Facebook. Facebook wants people to stay in their realm, not be re-directed or linked out to secondary sites. 


Finally, and unfortunately, social media marketers will probably have to prepare to SPEND MORE MONEY for ads.  Admit it, we’ve had a pretty good run at being able to reach people organically.  But don’t just throw your money around to see what works. Do your homework, be strategic and creative, and seek professional help when it makes sense. On that note, Cabana VR loves helping businesses create meaningful, effective 360-degree videos that look amazing on Facebook. Let us know how we can help you too!


For further reading, check out these other blogs from:








Why we love VeeR VR

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 5.26.38 PM.png

Happy New Year! I thought it would be a nice way to kick off 2018 by highlighting a spectacular 360-degree video hosting site that we recently discovered, VeeR VR.


While many hosting sites started with photo and worked their way to video, VeeR VR has taken the opposite route. 360 video and graphic virtual reality is their sweet spot (photo is currently in Beta testing but they have some awesome examples on their website).


VeeR VR, which hails out of China, pitches itself as a “Global VR Content Community.” They certainly are popular worldwide. I’ve enjoyed videos from contributors (called “creators” on their site) from India, China, Madrid, Auckland, Peru…the list goes on.


The content is as diverse as the geography: you’ll find everything from VR horror shorts to New Year’s celebrations, concerts, VR vlogs, and everything in between. The search box makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.


One thing I especially love about VeeR is that they constantly give newcomers exposure. In addition to their “trending videos” page, they feature and highlight new videos several times a week on their landing page.


Cabana VR has uploaded several contributions to VeeR, and they chose two of our videos to highlight in December. That translated to thousands of new views in a worldwide arena. Comments from viewers have been extremely complimentary, and sometimes hilarious due to the probable use of Google Translate. Here is our evening timelapse of the Charlotte skyline on VeeR, along with some of my favorite comments:

“The traffic is like a flashing river, shining with extremely bright light.”
“A simple roof can see so beautiful scenery Perhaps I should find the beauty around.”

And we even got a very nice comment from the VeeR staff themselves:

“Excellent! It is wise to use Time-lapse to record the sunset and night view, which is beautiful and impressive.”

We look forward to sharing more videos through VeeR VR!

More Than a Game: Three Practical - and Emotional - Uses for Virtual Reality

 Photo by  Denys Nevozhai  on  Unsplash

Ask 10 people about Virtual Reality, and 9 of them will immediately think of gamers wearing headsets. (The other one is likely a realtor who associates VR with 360 virtual tours for home listings). Not to slam gaming and real estate applications, but VR is so much more! Here are three amazing uses for VR that are sure to keep growing:



At first, the ability to virtually visit a place in 360 seems counterproductive to those in the hospitality industry who are trying to attract new clientele. They might well be thinking, "Why would someone come here if they've already experienced my resort?" But rather than giving too much away, a virtual visit just whets the appetite. Think about it: when you're offered a miniature spoon-sized sample at the ice cream shop, are you fully satisfied? No way - you know you're gonna go all in and buy the super-deluxe sundae. A VR Tour for a destination hotel, resort, or spa is like a full-color brochure on steroids. Not convinced? Check out the amazing 360 experiences in Mina Bradley's article for VeeR VR, Virtual Reality in Hospitality Industry: Home Away From Home in 360.  After drooling over those amazing hotels, tell me you don't want to book the quickest flight to Spain, Saigon, or Switzerland!



Way back in 2015, Tech Republic featured an excellent article called 10 Ways Virtual Reality is Revolutionizing Medicine and Healthcare by Erin Carson. The diversity of uses for VR in this industry ranges from exposure therapy and treatment for PTSD, to surgical training and brain damage assessment. One of the most emotionally impactful applications has to do with giving new, immersive opportunities to those who are disabled or housebound. Check out this awesome video about a man with cerebral palsy who was given the ability to "ski" for the first time in 32 years. 

Evan W. Gadda is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Musical Theatre. The team at @One Digital Media within the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center was able to bring a virtual reality experience to him with the hopes to bring this to more people.



Pro sporting events and concerts come with a hefty price tag, leaving many dedicated fans unable to experience them in person. Sure, TV has been covering these kinds of events for years, but VR adds an immersive dimension. A handful of production companies like NextVR are using 360 technology to bring exciting events to a new batch of spectators. In a 2015 article by John Gaudiosi for Fortune Magazine, NextVR co-founder is quoted as saying, “Imagine joining your favorite NFL team during training camp, or being in the dugout during a MLB All-Stars game. This isn’t just about taking fans to the best seat in the arena, this is about taking them places they could never go before.”

Ultimately, taking people to new places is what VR is all about. 

It’s a technology that can bring people places they might not otherwise reach. A high school senior can tour a college without trekking across the country. A wheelchair-bound music fan can get in the front row at a rock concert. And a relocating home buyer can view a new house from the comfort of their old one.
— JOHN PATRICK PULLEN in Time Magazine, January 8, 2016

The 3-in-1 Solution: Anytime Fitness Case Study

When it comes to marketing, businesses often face multiple challenges at once. How can I let people know about my new business? What’s the best way to let potential customers know what I have to offer? How can I rise above my competition? For businesses facing these scenarios, there is good news: several obstacles can usually be solved with a single effective solution.


A few weeks ago, we sat down with James, the owner of Anytime Fitness Kannapolis. He came to us seeking new and fresh ideas for marketing the gym. The process of listening to him talk about the challenges he was facing helped him clearly identify three goals:


  1. Get on the map
  2. Show off a beautiful facility
  3. Feature a sneak peek


At the end of our conversation, we assured James that Cabana VR could provide him with a single solution – a 360-degree virtual tour – which would address all three of his goals at once.


1)    GET ON THE (GOOGLE) MAP.  These days, Google is just about everyone’s first point of contact with your business. Customers use Google to find your location, to get your phone number and hours of operation, and to read reviews. One of the most important of all the Google tools is Google Maps. Assuming that the Google car has taken a 360-degree photo of the exterior of your business, it automatically shows up at the bottom left hand corner of the screen on mobile device searches. That photo can be extremely helpful to new customers who want to see where you are in relationship to surrounding buildings and intersections. However, since James had opened Anytime Fitness after the Google car had made its rounds, the photo was a liability rather than an asset. Since Cabana VR is a Google Trusted Photographer, we were able to replace the outdated photo which showed a “For Lease” sign with a current 360 image featuring the new Anytime Fitness storefront.

   Outdated Google images can hurt your business. Hire a trusted photographer to update your default 360 photo.

Outdated Google images can hurt your business. Hire a trusted photographer to update your default 360 photo.

2)    SHOWCASE A BEAUTIFUL FACILITYWhen I first walked into Anytime Fitness Kannapolis, my jaw dropped. I expected the gym to be just like any other chain fitness center, so I was surprised at how beautiful James’s facility was. Everything was vibrant purple and shiny chrome. James took pride in his clean, new space and we were able to help him show it off in a unique way with a 360-degree virtual tour. By simply clicking on the Anytime Fitness logo, viewers can easily “move” between spaces in the gym and take a look around in all directions. Interactive virtual tours effectively allow potential customers to “try before they buy.”


Use the thumbnails or click on the "running man" icon to virtually move throughout the gym

3)    FEATURE A SNEAK PEEK. James said that many people who desire to join a gym for the first time are intimidated by the experience. They incorrectly believe that everyone else will be fitter/stronger/more beautiful than they are, so they don’t take the plunge. James wanted us to show a typical group fitness exercise class to combat the misperception. We didn’t use fitness models for our 360 video, instead we put the camera right in the middle of an actual circuit training class. As the trainer walks around the circle, potential customers can follow along in 360, encouraged that the class looks fun and inviting. We’re confident that the combination of showing regular people of various sizes and fitness levels, plus the immersive nature of a 360 experience, can help boost membership for Anytime Fitness Kannapolis. 

Note: Some browsers do not support 360-degree playback. Use Chrome or Firefox.

James was extremely pleased with Cabana VR's virtual tour of Anytime Fitness Kannapolis, touting it as an effective and valuable tool in achieving his marketing goals. How about your business? Let us help you solve your problems with a single Cabana VR customized solution

Best Practices for Marketing with 360-Degree Video


In the last few Cabana VR blogs I’ve been making the case for 360 as an effective marketing tool. I’ve been addressing questions like “why should I choose to create a 360 video instead of a traditional 2D video?” (short answer – the immersive and viewer-controlled nature of 360 leads to more engagement, which in turn leads to brand name retention).


However, just because an ad is in 360 doesn’t necessarily make it a good promo. Sure, it might look cool, but does your message fit the medium?


360 video is quite a different format than flat video in a number of ways. When crafting your message, you’ll want to capitalize on these strengths of 360:

  • It’s active, not passive. The viewer is in control, and makes the choice to look around in all directions…or not. You have to give them a compelling reason to do so.
  • It lends itself to first-person storytelling. Viewers become part of the scene around them. Use this to your advantage!
  • It triggers a physiological response. This is especially true when wearing a VR headset. We shot a yoga video, and when my daughter watched it on our VR headset she spontaneously went into the “warrior” position because she believed that everyone around her was doing it and she didn’t want to be a slacker!

Note: Some browsers (i.e. Safari) do not support 360 video. 

360 video is still an emerging form of filmmaking. Remember, not every story concept lends itself to this format. However, every brand CAN use 360 effectively. You just have to think creatively. When brainstorming possibilities for a 360 ad, ask yourself questions like:

  •      How can you put the potential customer in the center of the action? 

Honda’s incredible 360-degree video on YouTube in which the viewer rides along in the passenger seat of a race car is a perfect example.

  •     What kinds of scenes would make you want to look in all directions, not just front and center?

Like the Excedrin migraine ad mentioned in a previous blog, you want to give the viewer a reason to look around. Perhaps you’d want to put a camera in the middle of a 3-ring circus, or at a busy dinner party. If you’re marketing a dating website, what would it look like to have people flirting with “you” from all directions?

  •      Can you showcase an interactive experience?

When we created a 360 video to help a gym market their group exercise program, we put the camera in the middle of a circuit training course, and had the instructor walk around the circle, giving advice and encouragement. Being in the literal center of the action makes you want to join in and pump some iron.

  •      How can your 360 video trigger an emotional response for the viewer?

Consumers make purchasing decisions based on emotion. Adding an emotional element to the immersive nature of 360 will doubly influence viewers into remembering your product or service. For example, if you’re a company that sells camping gear, showing a hiker triumphantly summiting a mountain with breathtaking panoramic views all around would be a highly effective use of 360.

 Photo by  Lawton Cook  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lawton Cook on Unsplash

Does VR Marketing Have a Future?


With the recent news that Nokia is scrapping the manufacturing of it’s high end 360-degree Ozo camera, it would seem that 360 is on shaky ground. Far from it, say the experts. Trends show the Virtual Reality market, which includes 360 video, to be holding steady. According to Greenlight Insights, the 2017 numbers show VR to be a $7-billion dollar global industry, and projections for five years down the road stand at $74.82 billion.

                                                                                         Chart courtesy of  Variety , April 11 2017

                                                                                       Chart courtesy of Variety, April 11 2017

So what does this all mean for the future of VR as a digital marketing tool? Does Nokia’s decision indicate a decline in interest? Definitely not! 360-degree video is such a relatively new technology that marketers are just beginning to figure out how to capitalize on it.


In late 2015, brands like Corona, Nestle, and Samsung experimented with 360 ads on Facebook. Now that the first domino has been pushed over, more and more brands are falling in love with the immersive power of 360. Recently we’ve come across a slew of 360 commercials on Twitter. One of our favorites, from Excedrin, effectively uses 360 to mimic the symptoms of a migraine. The camera is centered in the middle of a busy restaurant kitchen, so that the viewer “becomes” the suffering pastry chef. Noise, chaos, and a CG halo effect surrounds you from all directions – the ad definitely makes you want to grab the nearest bottle of Excedrin!

Note: Use Chrome or Firefox to view the video in 360


Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only platforms to experiment with immersive ads. The next logical step is pop up ads for VR headsets. Not surprisingly, Google is already working on a prototype.  


If health and beauty products like aspirin and deodorant (mentioned in a previous blog) can use 360, then just about any product can benefit from this technology. The key is thinking differently. A 360 ad must give the viewer a compelling reason to look around. Otherwise, a traditional video could do the job just as well. If you’re thinking of creating a 360 ad, we’d love to collaborate with you! Contact Cabana VR and let’s get the conversation started.


How to upload, view, and display 360 degree photos and videos

Inexpensive cameras and mobile phones are making 360° imaging accessible to the masses. But creating a 360-degree photo or video is just the first step. What’s the best way to show your 360° images off to the world?  There are several methods of displaying your panoramic creations, and some are easier than others. Let’s start with the simplest way:


FACEBOOK – Facebook does all the work for you. It instantly recognizes that your photo or video is a 360 and converts it to the proper format. Simply upload your 360-degree images to Facebook as you would any other photo or video. If you run into problems, the Facebook Help Center can assist.


 Uploading 360 photos to Facebook is just as easy as uploading regular photos!

Uploading 360 photos to Facebook is just as easy as uploading regular photos!

360 DEGREE HOSTING SITES – There are several websites dedicated to hosting 360-degree images, and the good news is that many of them are free to use! Just like Facebook, these hosting websites automatically recognize and convert the format. All you need to do is create an account and upload your photos. Momento360 is one of the easiest hosting sites to use, and during their beta test, the service is free! They have a great tutorial to walk you through the process. Momento includes an option to share your images on Facebook and Twitter, but those basically are shortcuts that take viewers back to the Momento website where your image can be viewed full screen on a laptop, tablet, or phone. Additionally, you can create a link for sharing via email or copy the code needed to embed the image on a website. Other good hosting sites are kuula (free basic account of 100 public uploads or starting at $8/month for a Pro account) and France’s 360player which boasts of a free lifetime account. 

 Here's a 360-degree image we uploaded to Momento360 on our free Cabana VR account

Here's a 360-degree image we uploaded to Momento360 on our free Cabana VR account

YOUTUBE – Despite some playback challenges on Apple products (Safari does not yet support 360 **), YouTube is a nice option for showcasing 360° videos. With video, there’s an extra step involved. You must inject the file with metadata before uploading to YouTube. 360° Video Metadata apps are available for Mac and Windows. Open the app and select your video file, making sure to check the box for “spherical” when saving. Now you’re ready to upload the video to YouTube. Make sure you’re not crunched for time – the processing time can take close to an hour depending on the length of your video. 

** Note: 360 works fine on the YouTube app on iOS, or with Chrome or Firefox browsers.

 YouTube allows you to easily upload and view 360-degree videos like this one from Cabana VR

YouTube allows you to easily upload and view 360-degree videos like this one from Cabana VR

What do Degree deodorant, Disneyland Paris, and NPR have in common?


Degree, Disney, and NPR - It’s hard to imagine what they could possibly have in common. But each of these vastly different entities recently used 360-degree technology to tell a powerful story.

360-degree storytelling is a relatively new phenomenon, and panoramic filmmakers are still figuring it out as they go. We can learn some lessons in crafting an effective narrative from these examples: 

(NOTE - Unfortunately, some browsers - namely Safari - do not support 360, so switch to Chrome or Firefox if possible to view the clips in the correct format)

1)    Degree showcases Steph Curry’s signature moves to market deodorant.  The power of motion makes Degree’s Twitter-mercial successful. The camera is placed smack dab in the middle of the action, and as Curry zigzags across the court, you naturally want to follow his every smooth move.  

2)    Disneyland Paris forces a unique perspective to capture the imagination. I guarantee you’ve never seen a parade from this view. The camera soars above the crowd, smoothly passing over the floats, while the use of 360 puts the viewer in complete control of what they see. It makes you wonder, “how on earth did they do that?”