Star Wars clip showcases Facebook's immersive 360 video

Social network features race across the Jakku desert for new immersive video project.

Facebook's 360 Star Wars video as seen on a smartphone. Image: Facebook

Facebook is showcasing a new immersive video format that allows viewers to change their viewpoint while watching.

Rather than watching from a fixed viewpoint viewers can click-and-drag on a web page (or slide their finger along the screen on a smartphone) to change their view. In the Star Wars video posted on Facebook, for example, viewers can look out of the back of the speeder as it races past a crashed Star Destroyer (and an X-Wing) or turn to get a better view of a craft that pulls up alongside, instead of simply facing the front. You can see the video here.

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Facebook's video engineering developer Maher Saba said that creating this immersive videos involves using a set of cameras to record all 360 degrees of a scene simultaneously.

"Over time, we've seen that people enjoy more immersive content in their news feeds," he said.

The new format is not only for big brands - Facebook forsees a future in which individuals could use similar technology to create these types of videos. "In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend's vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil. You'll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there," said Saba.

Other publishers are showing off new 360 videos on Facebook, including Discovery, GoPro, and Vice.

The videos will be appearing in the news feeds of Facebook users on the web or on Android "soon" while the social network said it plans to deliver an iOS version "in the coming months".

It's not the only immersive video experience the company is working on: last year it bought virtual reality headset maker Occulus Rift.

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