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Virtual reality is gearing up to be the big breakout trend of 2016, and one stock media company is looking to capitalize on the hype.

Founded out of Reston, Virginia in 2009, VideoBlocks is best known for its subscription-based stock video service that lets creatives access as many stock video clips as they like for $99/year, or $198/year with some extra features thrown in. As of last year, the company also offers a marketplace for buying / selling individual footage for a set price.

Now, VideoBlocks is touting itself as the “first stock media company to add 2D and 3D virtual reality, 360-degree video” to its arsenal of content.

The new footage will be made available in the unlimited VideoBlocks’ library, as well as through the pay-per-clip marketplace, with users able to watch the videos in a “full 360-degree sphere” on a dedicated player on the VideoBlocks website before buying.


Above: VideoBlocks: Stock VR Footage

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that VideoBlocks uses the terms “360-degree video” and “virtual reality” interchangeably, even though they’re not strictly the same thing. Many videos have been made to work with apps designed for Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR — devices that require you to slip your smartphone inside a head unit to enjoy a more immersive world. While such experiences can be cool, they don’t offer the full, interactive virtual reality experience promised by the likes of the Oculus Rift. But this is a sign of where the industry is currently at — VR is now generally used as a “catch-all” term for any immersive experience that requires the user to wear a set of goggles or similar head-mounted contraption. However, if baby steps are what it takes for VR to catch on in the mainstream, then so be it.

VideoBlocks will offer both monoscopic and stereoscopic 360 videos in HD and 4K, and submissions must be less than 25GB and less than five minutes in length. A spokesperson tells VentureBeat that most of the company’s footage has been captured using Nokia’s new $60,000 VR camera, as well as custom-built setups using cameras like GoPro and Panasonic GH4.

With an increasing number of tech companies jumping on the VR bandwagon — including Facebook, Huawei, and HTC — what we really need now is quality content to enjoy on these new platforms. Opening stock video footage to the masses could encourage some media companies and marketers to explore the fledgling industry. But VideoBlocks has always been big on the “first to offer XYZ” mantra, and was early to offer 4K stock footage several years back. Whether VR or 360-degree video — or whatever you want to call it — is actually ready for prime time is almost irrelevant here.

“We’re doing with virtual reality what we did with 4K seven years ago, and we’re doing it at an affordable and fair price that benefits the entire ecosystem, on all levels,” explained Joel Holland, founder and executive chairman of VideoBlocks. “The stock media and video production industries are continuing to evolve every day, and with this addition, VideoBlocks continues to be at the forefront of the industry as a trusted platform for the mass creative class to explore new ways of creating, which in this case, is virtual reality.

“It’s also important for us, as champions of the creative class, to provide the newest types of content for our creators to experiment with, especially in the burgeoning world of 360 / VR content creation. It’s the perfect time for us to provide this type of content to our members — and they’ve been asking for it.”

VideoBlocks has teamed up with VR content studios — including Ovrture, OffHollywood, Atmosphaeres, DeepVR, SubVRsive, and 360Labs — to provide content covering cities around the world, African wildlife, and outer space. For members not signed up to an unlimited VideoBlocks plan, clips can be purchased through the marketplace for $400 for 360-degree monoscopic footage, or $500 for 360-degree 3D stereoscopic content.

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