The first step in creating a Gear VR application is authoring the app experience. One of the great things about InstaVR is our “write once, publish to many” approach. So all of the steps listed below for authoring a Gear VR application will be applicable to publishing to other platforms as well.
Sign up for a Free InstaVR account
Signing up for InstaVR is both free and easy. You can either click the “TRY FOR FREE” button in the top right corner or visit https://console.instavr.co/signup. With a free InstaVR account, you can publish up to two practice Gear VR apps.
Upload your 360 images and videos to InstaVR
The first step in creating your new Gear VR project is uploading the 360 media you’d like to use. As a web-based solution, that’s as simple as collecting your project media into a single folder on your desktop and dragging it to our File Manager. Once in our File Manager, you can easily select the 360 images or videos you’d like to include in your project.
Create a menu OR select the initial scene
After your files are in our cloud, you can in the Authoring tab select which panorama you’d like your app to launch into first. Whichever 360 image or video you have as the top-most in your Authoring tab will be the one that loads first. There’s two approaches that our clients generally take for Gear VR initial panos:
- Use an initial 360 image as your “Menu Page” – Some clients will want to allow their users to select between a number of different images or videos off of a de facto Menu Page. To do that, you’ll select a 360 image as your menu background, and then add multiple Navigation links off that main menu for the user to choose from. (more on Navigation Links below) This approach is good if you have multiple distinct VR experiences for your audience or if you’d like to give them a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style experience.
- Launch right into a 360-degree image or video – Rather than allowing your user to choose their narrative direction via a Menu, you can have them automatically open on an image or video-based scene. This is good if you want to have a linear experience for your users where they go scene-to-scene, without needing an initial multi-choice Menu.
Add Navigation between scenes
Once you’ve established if you’re using a Main Menu or a linear approach, you need to give your users the ability to navigate from scene to scene. App users can initiate navigation either through gazing at Navigation links or by pointing at them with a hand controller (depending on if your headset uses a hand controller or not).
Setting up navigation depends on if your VR scene is image based or video based.
Adding Navigation to 360-degree images (For images, you’ll have to add a navigation link — or multiple ones — somewhere within a scene to allow users to navigate to a next scene)
Select “+Link” from Bottom of Authoring Platform ->
Press Update Position ->
Select Location in Pano You’d Like Navigation Link to Be and Click ->
Select Destination Scene You’d Like Navigation Link to Go To ->
Override Nav Link Label, Change Nav Link Icon, Change Text Color, and Change Icon or Font Size (All Optional) ->
Adding Navigation to 360-degree videos (Videos require a different approach than images. There are three options for what happens after a video plays. All of them are found in the lower right corner of the Authoring view, under the “Transition Options” drop-down)
Loop – Loop plays that video over again and again. This is a good choice if you only have a single video for your Gear VR app.
Stop – If you’d like to give your users options after a video plays, select Stop. You can add Navigation Links to the scene, as discussed above, and the user can choose the next scene they’d like to go to.
Navigate – This choice allows you to choose the next scene or video that automatically loads after the video plays. This is a good choice if you want your VR to be passive, and you want to control the navigation flow of your app users.
Adding Hotspots to your 360-degree media
VR Hotspots are 2D media (images or videos) that can overlay directly on your 360 media. They can be initiated by the user (via gaze or hand controller), or can automatically be displayed if you’re a Pro user.
The steps for adding Hotspots to your VR scenes are:
Select “+Hotspot” from the bottom of the Authoring view ->
Press “Update Position” in upper right hand corner ->
Select location in 360 media where you’d like the Hotspot to appear ->
Select the 2D image or video from the File Manager you’d like to appear as the Hotspot ->
Add a Label that will appear in the 360 media below the Hotspot icon ->
Change Hotspot icon, Icon/Label color, or Icon/Label size (All Optional) ->
(Optionally) Pro users can change when Hotspots appear and if they play automatically ->
Note that Hotspots work a bit differently in 360 images and videos. For 360 images, the Hotspot is coded to appear fixed to the object where you place it. For videos, it will appear in a location. For that reason, the Pro feature of Hotspot appearance time is something to strongly consider for video.
Overall, Hotspots can be used for educational purposes, for close-up views of things, for adding a video component to a still image, and much much more. Hotspots are a great way to make your app interactive. You can also track Hotspot initiation by adding a Google Analytics id marker to the Hotspot, and viewing the counting stats related to that in Google Analytics.
Creating a Narrative to your VR experience
Authoring a Gear VR app is as simple as creating a series of scenes, and ensuring your users have a way to navigate from scene-to-scene. This is what we call creating the narrative. You want to ensure that users can intuitively figure out the navigation of the app. Because they’ll be wearing a headset, you want them to experience a logical narrative flow without having to involve you in the process.