360 degree film making necessitates a new language for storytelling. We investigate this issue from the point of view of the user, inferring 360 literacy from what users say about their viewing experiences.

The case study is based on material from two user studies on a 360 video profile of an artist. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis to understand how users made sense of the video.

The sense of presence had a strong impact on the experience, while the ability to look around meant new skills had to be developed to try to make sense of 360 video. Viewers had most to say about a few particular shots, and some themes of note emerge: such as being in unusual places, certainty about what should be attended to and focus points, switches between first and third person views, and close-ups and interest.


It is said that 360 film making requires a new language to be developed for film makers to tell stories.

Recently, wisdom amassed over the last few years has been embodied in guidelines or recommendations, for example, from Jaunt, Google and Vimeo and others. However, not many empirical studies have been conducted to ratify or challenge these guidelines.

Some guidelines concerning lower level film language elements, such as, about shots, transitions, and camera placement, are relatively easy to assess, and are partially addressed in this study. Other guidelines concerning the philosophy of 360 film making are more arbitrary. For example, Google’s Jessica Brillhart considers that there should be action going on all around the viewer, for which she developed the concept of Probabilistic Experiential Editing; whereas Jaunt generally recommend the main action should usually occur within 150 degrees in front of the viewer.

The video used in the case study follows the latter approach. In the following sections, consideration is given to the most prevalent form of editing, continuity editing, which viewers are probably most literate in understanding, which has distinct rules about how to produce film that viewers will easily understand.

Understanding of film is then located in a simple model which allows both viewer experience and sensemaking of film to be highlighted. Guidelines for 360 film making are briefly reviewed and this is then followed by a case study in which user experience is analysed with reference to viewer understanding, leading to the identification of a number of emergent themes that characterise user experience, and elements of 360 literacy.

Download the full technical paper below