VLC media player is already widely popular for its ability to play almost all audio and video formats straight out of the box, without the need to install any additional codecs. And now, keeping up with the times, VideoLAN — the makers of VLC — are adding a totally different class of videos to the already exhaustive list: 360-degree videos.
The technical preview for the upcoming version 3.0 of VLC was released Saturday. It incorporates technology from 360-degree camera maker Giroptic that allows the media player to achieve its newest functionalities, which include playback of 360-degree video and photos, as well as panoramic photos. It also supports the spherical display mode, which is another step toward full VR capability.
The new features can be controlled using the mouse and keyboard, and as always, the software is open source.
Currently available only for Windows (7 upward) and macOS (10.10 upward), VLC version 3.0 will soon be rolled out for Android, iOS and Xbox One as well. “Mobile versions will use the phone sensors to navigate inside the videos,” notes on the technical preview website said.
The final release of version 3.0 is expected on Nov. 30, but if you can’t wait to try out the panoramic playbacks, you can get the Windows build here and the macOS build here. Be warned, though, that technical previews are often buggy.
The folks at VideoLAN added: “VLC will probably support VR headsets like Vive, Daydream, Oculus or OSVR, in 2017. VLC will also get 3D audio playback, including head tracking headphones. We’ll keep you posted.” Lots to watch out for.
VLC thanked Giroptic, saying: “This project wouldn't have been possible without the help of Giroptic, who has provided samples, cameras, code and expertise on those features.”
“We are very proud to contribute our expertise in 360° to this open source player. This will allow the millions of VLC users to take full advantage of a promising new technology and be widely involved in its democratization,” Richard Ollier, co-founder and CEO of Giroptic, said.
VLC is not the first video player to offer 360-degree playback support, but it is certainly the most popular. If you want to check out some others, a short list can be found here.