How and what videos you can watch on your HTC Vive

It is really cool watching a 3D movie, on a 100 inch curved TV that completely fills your field of vision. Virtual reality or VR offers a immersive video watching experience if you have got the HTC Vive. But many of you must be wondering  on as how to watch a movie on your headset, whether it’s a regular 2D movie, a 3D movie, or a full 360-degree VR production.

Though ideally VR is taking its baby steps and the headset resolution is not good enough to offer you the highest quality video. In games you can definitely see the pixels, and your movie will have that “screen door effect” on it. In addition you will find that your eyes might get started to hurt after an hour or so, and the straps started to hurt over your head after an hour so probably not ideal for watching full movies. It is great, however, for watching your favorite scenes in a way you’ve never seen them before, or watching shorter videos meant to be seen in 3D or VR.

So there are four kinds of videos you can watch on your VR headset each of which you can obtain from different sources:

  • Regular 2D video: These are the normal videos you find on YouTube, or rip from DVDs
  • 3D video: You’ve seen 3D movies at the theater, and you can buy those 3D movies. To watch them in VR, you can rip that 3D to a “side by side” or “over under” format, which is playable on a VR headset in 3D. You’ll usually have the choice between Full SBS, which contains each eye in full resolution, or Half SBS, which contains each eye in sub sampled half resolution. Full SBS videos are noticeably higher quality, but take up more hard drive space and more graphics power to play.
  • 180 or 360 degree video: These types of video are fairly new, but you can check out lots of them on YouTube or download them from other sources. On your 2D monitor, you can use the mouse to drag the video around to see different views, but played on HTC Vive, you can actually look around using your headset’s head tracking. It’s very cool.
  • Full VR video: This format combines 3D and 180 or 360 degree footage for a completely immersive, 3D, head-tracking experience. You can buy videos like this at different places around the web, like Video Blocksor watch a few for free on YouTube.

There aren’t nearly as many 360 and VR videos out there as 2D and 3D movies, but as VR continues to grow, so will the selection.

How to Watch Videos on HTC Vive

There are a few different apps for watching videos in VR, like the Whirligig. You can download an old free version on their web site, or get the $4 version on Steam, which gets occasional updates, improvements, and new features  Whirligig is still under development, and if you want the best playback possible, you’ll need the beta version with all the latest improvements

So, after buying Whirligig, open Steam, head to the Library tab, and click “Games” in the upper right-corner of the sidebar. Click “Software” to find Whirligig in your Library.

HTC Vive Video

Then, right-click on Whirligig in Steam’s sidebar, and go to Properties. Click the “Betas” tab, and opt into the latest beta in the dropdown menu. Whirligig will update to the latest possible version.

HTC Vive

Lastly, depending on the videos you plan to watch, you may need to download and install the K-Lite Codec Pack. by installing the Basic version. Be sure to click the “Expert” radio button and pay close attention–K-Lite does come bundled with crap ware, you just need to decline to install it during the wizard.

htc Vive Video

Once that’s done, launch Whirligig in your VR environment of choice, and you’ll be presented with Whirligig’s heads-up overlay. You can control Whirligig’s menus with the HTC Vive’s touchpad, an Xbox 360 or One controller, or a mouse and keyboard.

To watch a video, click the Browse button in the top left-hand corner of the menu. You’ll be able to browse your hard drive to choose a video file.

HTC Vive Video

As the video starts to play, you’ll probably want to adjust some settings using Whirligig’s heads-up controls.

  • Regular 2D video: Set Projector to Cinema or Cinema Curved.
  • 3D video: 3D video comes in a few different forms, so check the video you downloaded–or the settings you used when you ripped it–to see whether it’s Half Side-By-Side, Full Side-By-Side, Half Over-Under, or Full Over-Under. Set the Projector to either Cinema or Cinema Curved, then select SBS or OU instead of Mono. If the video is Half SBS, set Stretch to “100” so it displays in the proper aspect ratio.
  • 180 or 360 degree video: The video will usually tell you whether it’s 180 degrees or 360 degrees on the site you download it from. If it’s 180 degrees, set Projector to “Fisheye” and set FOV to 180. If it’s 360, set Projector to “Barrel” and FOV to 360. You may also have to tweak “Tilt” for 180 videos or “Rotation” for 360 videos so that the video is facing the right direction.
  • Full VR video: Combine the correct settings from “3D video” and “180 or 360 degree video” sections of this list.

You can also adjust the Scale and Distance settings to fit your tastes, or click the Settings cog in the lower right-hand corner for even more options. Whirligig also has some other cool features like saving different presets, but these basics should get you up and running pretty quickly

Whirligig isn’t the only way to watch videos on your VR headset, if you’re willing to pay a little more, Virtual Desktop ($15) is also pretty good, and can do a lot more than play videos.

Just play a video in your favorite desktop player (like VLC), set it to full-screen, and go.


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