You're watching the rails of the roller-coaster fall away as you zoom downwards. But wait, you can also see what the person on your left is doing. And the screaming people behind you. And the sky above, and the ground below.
What IS this?
It's called the 360-degree video. Or spherical video, or immersive video – there are many names for what is being called "the gateway drug" to virtual reality. The videos are created using a few different techniques.
One option available is the use of GoPro cameras attached to a rig, and then stitching the footage from different cameras into a single video clip. Another method is to use an omnidirectional camera that captures a 360-degree panoramic view.
The immersive 360-degree video has become a popular tool, with everyone from journalists to advertising companies using it to tell stories. Vice News’s Millions March NYC, New York Times’s Vigils in Paris, and Gabo Arora and Chris Milk’s Waves of Grace are just a few of the news stories that were successfully told using the 360-degree video. Both YouTube and Facebook have set up services to upload and view this form.
The below two videos contrast a recently shot 360-degree video of a tornado in Wray, Colorado, followed by a normal video with a similar closeup. See the difference?
One of the main objectives is to give the viewer the sense of being at the location. To get the most of a 360-degree video, then, watch it on your mobile. For then the view will change as your hand imitated the movement of your head.
It would really well for a live event too. Imagine getting different angles for a Federer or a Djokovic forehand, or a Virat Kohli cover drive. Of course, the technology is still in its early days in terms of access it. Existing systems will have to be upgraded before it becomes the default way of viewing the world on video.
Here, meanwhile, is the 360-degree video of the SpaceX rocket landing back on earth – on a drone ship.