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Online Interactive Storytelling: Evaluation of the Viewer Experience of 360-degree Videos

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Aim/purpose - This article aims to examine the relationships between the 360-degree viewer experience and video genres. Design/methodology/approach - The presented empirical study was based on the respondents' evaluation of two 360-degree videos: a documentary film and an episode from a web series. Findings - The viewers evaluated the 360-degree video documentary as more interesting, more engaging, creating deeper immersion in the plot, and delivering more information compared to their experience when they would watch video if it were produced as a traditional film format. The study showed the differences in viewers' evaluation of 360-degree documentaries and web series episodes. The evaluation of 360-degree videos was different between the two groups of respondents varying in their perception of navigation. Research implications/limitations - Our study suggests that by implementing 360-degree video features in documentary films, we can evoke a more intensive viewer experience compared to the situation when the viewer would watch videos in the traditional film format. It also indicates that film production should take into account the different viewer's perceptions of being actively engaged in the navigation. The limitations of the study: the qualitative study with the convenient respondent sampling, the subjective evaluation of respondents' statements, and the subjective choice of the evaluated 360-degree videos. Originality/value/contribution - The study contributes to film production by highlighting the significance of viewer perception of navigation and the video genre as factors impacting the viewer experience.(original abstract)
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Journal of Economics and Management
ISSN 1732-1948 Vol. 36 (2) 2019
Urszula Świerczyńska-Kaczor
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5368-0247
Faculty of Film Art Organization
The Polish National Film, Television
and Theatre School in Lodz, Lodz, Poland
uswierczynska@filmschool.lodz.pl
Małgorzata Kotlińska
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4160-7362
Department of Management
Faculty of Management
University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
malgorzata.kotlinska@unilodz.eu
Monika Żelazowska
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6985-2517
Faculty of Film Art Organization
The Polish National Film, Television
and Theatre School in Lodz, Lodz, Poland
mzelazowska@filmschool.lodz.pl
Jacek Wachowicz
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9239-737X
Faculty of Management
UTP University of Science and Technology
in Bydgoszcz
jacek.wachowicz@utp.edu.pl
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer
experience of 360-degree videos
doi: 10.22367/jem.2019.36.06
Accepted by Editor Ewa Ziemba | Received: September 26, 2018 | Revised: February 9, 2019 |
Accepted: February 22, 2019.
Abstract
Aim/purpose This article aims to examine the relationships between the 360-degree
viewer experience and video genres.
Design/methodology/approach The presented empirical study was based on the re-
spondents’ evaluation of two 360-degree videos: a documentary film and an episode
from a web series.
Findings The viewers evaluated the 360-degree video documentary as more interest-
ing, more engaging, creating deeper immersion in the plot, and delivering more infor-
mation compared to their experience when they would watch video if it were produced
as a traditional film format. The study showed the differences in viewers’ evaluation
of 360-degree documentaries and web series episodes. The evaluation of 360-degree
videos was different between the two groups of respondents varying in their perception
of navigation.
Research implications/limitations Our study suggests that by implementing
360-degree video features in documentary films, we can evoke a more intensive viewer
experience compared to the situation when the viewer would watch videos in the tradi-
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
106
tional film format. It also indicates that film production should take into account the
different viewer’s perceptions of being actively engaged in the navigation. The limita-
tions of the study: the qualitative study with the convenient respondent sampling, the
subjective evaluation of respondents’ statements, and the subjective choice of the evalu-
ated 360-degree videos.
Originality/value/contribution – The study contributes to film production by highlight-
ing the significance of viewer perception of navigation and the video genre as factors
impacting the viewer experience.
Keywords: 360-degree video, viewer experience, online film interactivity.
JEL Classification: O33, Z11.
1. Introduction
The 360-degree video can be placed within the overlapping fields of the in-
teractive film, traditional film, computer games, virtual reality, 3D cinema and
3D online presentation. However, this new technology is none of the above men-
tioned, and the similarities with other technologies depend highly on the video
genre. For example, a 360-degree video presenting the environment of a mu-
seum or hotel (promotional film) is often close to a virtual tour, but the
360-degree thriller filmed from the first-person is similar to a computer game. The
aspect separating the 360-degree video from most ‘just solely interactive’ forms of
communication on an Internet website is the film itself: the 360-degree video con-
sists of the story and the means to deliver the story to the reader (viewer).
In the narratology, a clear distinction is made between the story (what the
story is about) and the discourse (the actual form of the story) (Brown, 2018),
and the technology of 360-degree video significantly changes the discourse. The
major difference between a 360-degree video and the traditional film lies in the
viewer’s ability to change the angle of view: the viewer watches the traditional
film with a defined and set focus of view, while the viewer of the 360-degree
video can select the camera angle to view a chosen part of the 360-degree sphere
filmed around the camera. This interactivity of film induces the viewer’s feeling
of ‘being inside the film’ which can be further enhanced by watching the film in
stereoscopic view through a head-mounted display.
So far, this new film technology raises much more questions than there are
ready-to-use standards and solutions for how to produce a video and what the
viewers’ experience of it would be. The process of video shooting can still be
described as ‘experimental’, although the scope of literature offering useful insi-
ghts into the process of 360-degree video production and its distribution, and the
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
107
viewer interaction with this technology has been steadily growing (e.g. Borisov,
Smolin, Stolyarov, Shcherbakov, & Trushin, 2017; Hussar, 2016; Kim, Yun, Jo,
Kim, Chae, & Suh, 2018; Philpot, 2017; Pope, Dawes, Schweiger, & Sheikh, 2017).
In this paper, we present the results of the study aiming to capture differen-
ces in viewer experience when the viewer watches two video genres: documen-
taries and web series. The text is structured as follows: Part 2 highlights the
spectrum of factors which can influence the 360-degree video viewer-experience
construct. In Part 3, we present the research questions, and the methodology of
the empirical study, and this part is followed by the presentation of findings (Part
4) and the discussion (Part 5). The paper ends with conclusions, the indication of
limitations and the future research (Part 6).
2. The factors shaping 360-degree video viewer experience
In the literature, the art experience in areas such as painting or sculpture is
discussed and modelled (at the psychological and/or neurological level) without
mentioning the area of film (e.g. Cela-Conde, Agnati, Huston, Mora, & Nadal, 2011;
Jacobsen, 2010; Pelowski & Akiba, 2011; Pelowski, Markey, Forster, Gerger,
& Leder, 2017). However, some factors indicated in the literature seem to be ‘trans-
ferable’ to the situation of film watching. The 360-degree viewer experience is also
linked with the interactive environment. Therefore, the viewer-experience construct
can be shaped similarly as in the following two situations: when the viewer watches
the traditional film, or when the viewer experiences virtual reality (VR). Table 1
summarises the factors affecting the viewer experience which are described from
these three different perspectives: the 360-degree video as art stimuli, the 360-degree
video as virtual reality and the 360-degree video as a traditional film.
Table 1. Different perspectives in analysing 360-degree viewer experience construct
The
perspective
The aspects of viewer experience highlighted
in given perspective
The aspects of 360-degree video viewer
experience highlighted in given perspective
1 2 3
Art perception
such as
sculpture,
painting
The context of viewing.
The viewer characteristics, e.g. art training
,
mood of viewer.
The culture and the cultural background
of the viewer.
The changes of the art perceptions over
the time
The impact of context
b
uilt by the platfor
m
on which the video is distributed (e.g. the
layout of the website, other content, the
legal aspects of online distributed materials,
user privacy concerns, sharing content
with others)
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
108
Table 1 cont.
1 2 3
The context of watching built by mobile
technology, smartphone, tablet (e.g.
watching at home, work, school, bus stop).
The viewer characteristics including viewer’s
perception of novelty of technology.
The viewers’ cultural differences of the film
perception
Virtual
reality (VR)
The viewer/user experience is created
exclusively in the computer.
Telepresence – the viewer’s feeling of
‘being inside environment – the virtual
world’.
Telepresence can be influenced by
the vividness and interactivity
of the computer environment.
The user can interact with the objects
inside virtual world.
Wide range of interactive tools in the
environment (e.g. choosing avatars of
users, communication with others online).
Social presence of others in the virtual
environment
The navigation of the video is created in
virtual environment: the navigation can
be based on clicking on the computer/
tablet/smartphone screen, using head-
-mounted display or rotating the
smartphone/tablet.
Contrary to VR, the predefined story is
b
eing told to the viewer (the viewer cannot
change the plot) and the viewer cannot
interact with objects and people in the
environment. Interactivity is limited to
navigation.
Telepresence of viewer – ‘feeling of being
inside the story’.
Interactive elements can be added
to the video leading to an increase of its
interactivity (making the video ‘more
similar’ to VR)
Traditional
film
Viewer narrative engagement and its
outcome: enjoyment and viewer’s story
consistent attitude.
Important social aspects of watching film
at home or at the cinema (e.g. watching
film together with friends at the cinema).
The feature of film (e.g. genre, length
of duration, topic, style of directing)
360-degree video changes the role of the
viewer who can select the part of the
filmed sphere which is being watched.
Unique viewing of 360-degree video leads
to possible problems: the viewer does not
focus on an important part of the filmed
sphere (e.g. missing the protagonist
entering the room). In order to prevent the
occurrence of these ‘missing’ parts, the
video can offer ways of assisting focus.
Social aspects of watching videos
(watching video together) are usually very
limited (though, the VR cinema has been
opened, or the viewers can watch video
together using tablet).
Similarly to traditional film, video
360-degree creates viewer narrative
engagement
Source: Adapted from: Busselle & Bilandzic (2009); Jacobsen (2010); Pelowski, Markey, Forster, Gerger,
& Leder (2017); Rupp, Kozachuk, Michaelis, Odette, Smither, & McConnell (2016); Steuer (1992);
Tang & Fakourfar (2017); Zhou & Deng (2009); Lin, Chang, Hu, Cheng, Huang, & Sun (2017).
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
109
Looking from the perspective of interaction between the viewer and the
‘product’ (the film, VR, the art piece) is only one possible approach. Other
approaches can be based, for example, on the analysis of viewer experience in
the process of the diffusion of 360-degree video as a new technology, or the
process of creating consumer’s experience through the usage of the product
(service-dominant logic). At this point of the paper, we would like to emphasise
the service-dominant logic (Lusch, Vargo, & Wessels, 2008; Vargo, & Lusch, 2004)
as an approach indicating the importance of the active role of the viewer. From
this perspective, the producer of the video does not deliver the value itself – the
value of the film is not created till the moment when the viewer watches the
film. For example, in the situation where the viewer does not know how to use
the navigation options, these interactive features offered by the film producer do
not bring any value to the viewer experience. This approach emphasises that the
viewer is always the co-creator of the product (video), the viewer is a prosumer
whose resources should be applied to experience this product, and each aspect of
the viewing matters (including the context of watching) as the ‘value-in-use’ is
created at the moment of film consumption. In the case of 360-degree videos the
co-created video can even be preserved by the viewer – in this hypothetical situ-
ation, the viewer can record their viewing and in this way they can create their
own unique ‘traditional’ film (although within predefined possibilities).
To give examples of topics investigated by researchers within the broad
area of the 360-degree video viewer experience, we can point to the following
interesting studies:
1. The differences between the viewer’s narrative engagement and empathy, and
also the aspects of feeling of presence by the viewer and the role of the
viewer in the film in high immersive environment and low immersive envi-
ronment (Bindman, Castaneda, Scanlon, & Cechony, 2018).
2. The role of immersiveness and future virtual reality expectation on the sub-
jective-experience of the viewer in the case of watching an educational video
(Rupp et al., 2016).
3. The features of narrative and technical immersion of a 360-degree video
(Elmezeny, Edenhofer, & Wimmer, 2018);
4. The process of two viewers watching a 360-degree video together (Tang
& Fakourfar, 2017).
However, the results of studies published in the literature are often difficult
to compare with each other and also with – presented in further in this paper –
results of our study due to the differences in the analysed video genres (e.g. edu-
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
110
cational film vs. artistic film productions), the format in which the video was
produced (feature films vs. animated films), the viewing-settings in which the
analysis was conducted (head-mounted display, smartphone, computer, tablet),
and more importantly – the differences in the research perspectives taken in study
design.
3. The research problem and the methodology of empirical study
3.1. The research questions
The main research questions are:
Research Question 1 (RQ1): To what extent does the viewer experience differ
from viewing the film as a 360-degree video from what the viewer would
experience if it were in a traditional film format?
Research Question 2 (RQ2): To what extent does the 360-degree viewer
experience of a 360-degree documentary video differ from watching an
episode of a 360-degree web series?
Research Question 3 (RQ3): To what extent is the 360-degree viewer
experience shaped by the technology: the navigation?
Research Question 4 (RQ4): To what extent is the 360-degree viewer
experience influenced by different outside factors: the social aspect of film
watching, and other potential aspects?
In order to answer these research questions, we designed the study in which
the respondents watched two different 360-degree video, available on the Inter-
net, free of charge – one documentary film, one episode of a web series – and
then they answered the questions about their perception of these film produc-
tions.
In our approach, we designed the experience construct which emphasises
the viewer perception of 360-degree features against a ‘traditional experience’ as
the base-line. To more clearly illustrate the problem, let us consider the follow-
ing example – if we just ask the respondent to rate the film as interesting (‘Is
the film interesting?’), we can presume that the respondents’ evaluations will
include all aspects of this film, e.g. story, sound, understanding of characters,
navigation. As the documentary film or web serial are well-known genres, in-
stead of asking respondents about their ‘absolute’ evaluation of the video, we
asked respondents to evaluate the enhancement of the experience impacted by
adding the features of a 360-degree video. In the questionnaire, the respondents
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
111
were asked to what extent they agree with the given statements, such as ‘a 360-degree
video is more engaging for a viewer than a traditional film’ or ‘a 360-degree video is
more interesting for a viewer than a traditional film’. This approach was tested with
good results in our previous studies referring to the promotional 360-degree video
(Świerczyńska-Kaczor, Kotlińska, & Wachowicz, 2017). However, we note that:
The comparison is hypothetical, and the respondents may refer more in their
evaluation to their general attitude and expectations of the genre than to
a particular film.
We cannot also evaluate the video itself, meaning that we do not have a scale
with a set ‘zero’ point for evaluating the video as ‘interesting’, ‘creating tele-
presence’, or ‘being engaging’.
In Part 2, we pointed to the role of telepresence, navigation, and role of the
viewer as a prosumer as factors impacting the viewer experience. Therefore, in
this study we define the following variables:
1. The viewer feeling of telepresence (being inside the story) compared to what
the viewer would experience if it were a traditional film.
2. The viewer engagement compared to what the viewer would experience if it
were a traditional film. Viewer engagement is not necessary directly positive-
ly related to the immersion in the film story (for example, the internet user
can feel being fully immersed in the virtual environment, but at the same time
feel bored).
3. The viewer interest in the film compared to what the viewer would experi-
ence if it were a traditional film.
4. The viewer feeling of being informed compared to what the viewer would
experience if it were a traditional film (this aspect can be particularly import-
ant for documentary films).
5. Understanding the plot on the first viewing.
6. Viewer experience of film navigation: ‘ease of navigation’ and ‘the viewer’s
enjoyment to be able to control the navigation’.
7. Viewer potential interest in ‘interfering with the plot’ – this aspect was in-
vestigated only for the web series episode and refers to viewer’s interest in
having more control over the story development, such as selecting the prota-
gonist’s movement.
We also presume that the features of the 360-degree video, such as ‘ease of
navigation’, ‘the viewer’s enjoyment in being able to control the navigation’,
‘understanding the plot on the first viewing’ are related to the viewer’s percep-
tion of ‘film being interesting’, ‘being informative’, ‘creating engagement’, ‘cre-
ating intense feeling of being inside the plot’.
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
112
3.2. The study procedure
The study design was based on the respondents’ evaluation of two 360-
degree video film productions:
a documentary film which is an interactive part of the article published by
BBC – Damming the Nile: Explore with 360-degree video (BBC, 2018,
February 20), English language film version;
an episode of a web series titled ‘Bar’ (‘The Pub’) of the Polish web series
‘Para nie do pary’ available on the platform Player.pl (Rus, 2016) – Polish
language version, with free-of-charge access with advertisements shown be-
fore the episode.
The selection of these videos was based on their very good quality of pro-
duction, the adequacy of content to the genre, and their free-of-charge availabili-
ty on the websites.
In April 2018, 56 respondents from two Polish universities took part in the
survey, their area of studies was not linked to film or art. The design of the study
was as follows: the respondent watched the video individually on a computer in
a university classroom, and then they completed the questionnaire. The same
procedure was repeated for the second video. After viewing the video, the re-
spondents could add comments which they had not put in the questionnaire. The
characteristics of the interviewees: 51.79% male (29 respondents), 48.21% fe-
male (27 respondents), the majority – over 83.93% (47 respondents) – were
under 30 years old, the respondents had previous experience with watching
360-degree videos using a laptop/computer PC (42 respondents – 75.00%),
smartphone/tablet (11 respondents – 19.64%) or a head-mounted display (3 re-
spondents – 5.36%).
The respondents evaluated their experience with the film production using
a semi-structured questionnaire. They were asked to agree or disagree with the
given statements (positive or negative), and the respondents evaluated the state-
ments with the scale from 1 to 4: ‘I strongly disagree with the statement’ (1),
‘I disagree with the statement’ (2), ‘I agree with the statement’ (3), ‘I strongly
agree with the statement’ (4). The respondent could not choose the option
‘I don’t know’, and therefore they had to express their positive or negative atti-
tude (we purposefully did not to choose the Likert scale or other scale with neu-
tral point). We analysed the open questions manually by seeking for the topics
and sub-topics which emerged from respondents’ answers.
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
113
4. Research findings
The respondents evaluated their experience with the film story and the
navigation by comparing their experience to what they would experience if
the film were made as a traditional film (Table 2, Figures 1-2). The results indi-
cated that:
1. The documentary video was evaluated as more interesting, more engaging,
creating deeper immersion in the plot, and delivering more information
compared to a traditional production (statistically significant difference be-
tween the groups ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’, p < 0.05).
2. The documentary video was also not perceived as difficult to understand on
the first viewing (statistically significant difference between the groups
‘agree’ and ‘disagree’, p < 0.05).
3. The episode of the web series was evaluated as allowing the viewer to be
more immersed in the plot compared to what the viewer would experience if
the film were produced as a traditional film. The respondents did not evalu-
ate the other dimensions as giving a superior experience over the traditional
film.
4. The evaluation of the viewers’ experience with the documentary film was
significantly statistically different to the evaluation of the experience with
the web series (Wilcoxon test, p < 0.0; Table 2, Figure 2). For example, the
evaluation of the statement – ‘the 360-degree video documentary is more
interesting than a traditional film’ was different than the statement ‘the
360-degree video web series is more interesting than a traditional film’.
5. The respondents’ opinions about the statement that the episode of the web-
-series is difficult to understand during the first viewing was mixed: there is
no significant difference between the two groups ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’.
6. The respondents’ opinions about the need of having additional options such as
the selection of protagonist’s movement were mixed for the web series episode.
7. The documentary video was evaluated as easy to navigate, and the respon-
dents enjoyed being able to control the focus of the view.
8. The episode of the web series was evaluated as easy to navigate, although
the respondents expressed varied opinions about ‘enjoyment over control of
navigation’.
9. There is a statistically significant difference between the two groups of respond-
ents: first group ‘enjoy having control over navigation’ (responses 3-4), and
second group with negative answers (responses 1-2) in the evaluation of ‘docu-
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
114
mentary film being more interesting’, ‘film building more viewer’s engage-
ment’, ‘being more inside the plot’, ‘the film being more informative’, and ‘dif-
ficult to understand on first viewing’ (U Mann–Whitney test, p < 0.05).
10. There is a statistically significant difference between the two groups of re-
spondents: ‘enjoy having control over navigation’ (responses 3-4), and the
group with negative answers (responses 1-2) in the evaluation of ‘web serial
being more interesting’, ‘film building more viewer’s engagement’, ‘being
more inside the plot’, ‘the film being more informative’, and ‘difficult to un-
derstand on first viewing’ (U Mann–Whitney test, p < 0.05).
Table 2. The viewers’ evaluation of selected aspects of video experience: scaled questions
Specification N = 56
Documentary film Web series episode
Agree
(n)
Disagree
(n)
Agree
(n)
Disagree
(n)
N
avigation Video is easy navigate 92.86%
(52)
7.14%
(4)
80.36%
(45)
19.64%
(11)
I enjoy being able to control
the navigation
82.14%
(46)
17.86%
(10)
60.71%
(34)
39.29%
(22)
The perceived
enhancement
of viewer
experience by
360-degree
video features
360-degree video delivers
more information to a viewer
than a traditional film
89.29%
(50)
10.71%
(6)
60.71%
(34)
39.29%
(22)
360-degree video is more
engaging for a viewer than
a traditional film
87.50%
(49)
12.50%
(7)
57.14%
(32)
42.86%
(24)
360-degree video allows
the viewer to feel more
immersed in the film story
than a traditional film
87.50%
(49)
12.50%
(7)
80.36%
(45)
19.64%
(11)
360-degree video is more
interesting than a traditional film
82.14%
(46)
17.86%
(10)
57.14%
(32)
42.86%
(24)
Film is difficult to understand
on the first viewing
23.21%
(13)
76.79%
(43)
42.87%
(24)
57.14%
(32)
Other aspects All films should be like this 44.64%
(25)
55.36%
(31)
32.14%
(18)
67.86%
(38)
I think that it is fair, that I watch
advertisements before the film
and in return I can watch the
film free of charge
– –
51.79%
(29)
48.21%
(27)
I would like to have even greater
control of the plot, e.g. I can
choose the option to determine
the plot
– –
46.43%
(26)
53.87%
(30)
Source: Authors’ own results of study.
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
115
Figure 2. Documentary film vs. web series – the groups ‘agree’ only
Source: Authors’ own results of study.
93% (n=52)
89% (n=50) 88% (n=49) 88% (n=49)
82% (n=46) 82% (n=46)
45% (n=25)
23% (n=13)
80% (n=45)
61% (n=34)
57% (n=32)
80% (n=45)
57% (n=32)
61% (n=34)
32% (n=18)
43% (n=24)
... easy navigate… … delivers more
information to a
viewer…
... is more
engaging…
... feel more
immersed in the
plot
... is more
interesting …
I enjoy being able
to control the
navigation
All films should be
like this
… difficult to
understand on the
first viewing
Documentary Web series
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
116
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
117
The analysis of open questions indicates that the respondents perceived the
social aspects of watching and navigation as factors shaping their experience
(Table 3).
Table 3. Problems indicated by respondents
The problem The illustrative examples of the respondents’ statements
Lack of social interaction
with other viewers
“I cannot watch with friends or family.”
“There would be a quarrel as everyone wants to see different parts of the film.”
N
ecessity of ‘being
focused on the film’
“I cannot make tea as I watch the film as I usually do – without missing the plot.”
Difficulty of plot
understanding
“I have problems to look at everything that I would like to, and if I want to see
everything and understand the plot, I have to rush.”
“The 360-degree video technology is useful one, especially for weddings,
or advertisements. But the technology is less useful for feature films.
I have to concentrate more on navigation than on understanding the story.”
“For a documentary film the self-navigation is great, but for an episode of a web
series I cannot concentrate on the plot while navigating.”
Source: Authors’ own results of study.
5. Discussion
We point to the following answers for research questions:
RQ1: The superior experience of the film viewing as a 360-degree video was
very prominent in the case of the documentary film in the dimension of being
more interesting, more engaging, delivering more information, and with
much deeper immersion in the plot compared to respondents’ experience of
watching if the film were produced as the ‘traditional’ documentary film.
RQ2: Our study indicates that the respondents evaluated their experiences
when watching the documentary film differently to the episode of web series.
The results pointed that 360-degree format enhanced viewer experience more
strongly for the documentary than for the web series.
RQ3: To explain the difference between perception of the documentary and
the web series, we can point to the navigation. The analysis shows statistical-
ly significant differences in film evaluation for the groups with different atti-
tudes to ‘enjoy having control over navigation’. Moreover, in open questions
some respondents indicated that following the plot can be difficult when the
viewer is engaged in navigation at the same time.
RQ4: The respondents pointed to the lack of social experience and the
breaking of their usual routine of watching films (e.g. making tea, family
watching films together) as perceived problems.
The analysis of data suggests the importance of navigation: the easiness of
navigation and particularly – the viewer enjoyment in having the control over
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
118
the navigation. We presume that the viewers initial attitude to being engaged in
the interaction and navigation may significantly shape the viewer experience.
Therefore, there may be two different viewers’ segments: ‘seeking for the explo-
ration’ – the viewer would like to be involved in the interaction with video, and
the segment ‘going with the defined story’ – viewers who prefer to watch the
video with the default angle of view.
To sum up, in our study we measured the constructs of viewer experience
defined as the enhancement of viewer experience by 360-degree video features,
and more precisely, the viewer perception of this enhancement. This approach is
different compared with other studies as we did not use scales allowing us to
directly grade the viewer experience.
Due to the qualitative nature of our study, the results should be interpreted
as indicating the possible trends in film watching rather than the results which
can be broadly generalised for different viewing situations (e.g. the viewers from
different cultures, different film format such as animated films).
6. Conclusions
6.1. Research contribution and implication
In order to produce the ‘better 360-degree videos’ we need to better under-
stand the viewer experience. So far, it is difficult to point to a definitive cata-
logue of factors impacting the viewer’s experience. Further development of the
theoretical background should aim to build the multi-construct model integrating
different approaches: from the perspective of viewer-product interaction to the
perspective of the viewer experiencing new technology. We also presume that
new forms of film interactivity (such as multi-ending films) will also be included
in a 360-degree video, meaning that with the changes of 360-degree video featu-
res, the viewer experience will also evolve.
We would like to emphasise two aspects of this study as the contribution
to film production. Firstly, the study points to the differences in the viewer
experience of watching different video genres. Although much deeper research is
needed in this field, our study suggests that we can enhance the viewer experien-
ce of a documentary film compared to watching of a traditional format by im-
plementing 360-degree video features. Secondly, the study suggests that the
viewer’s attitude to ‘being engaged’ in storytelling may determine other aspects
of experience. From a technological point of view, it is possible to produce
Online interactive storytelling: Evaluation of the viewer experience…
119
a video which at the same time fulfils the needs of two different segments of
viewers – ‘enjoying to have control over navigation and being engaged’ and the
segment which can be named as ‘the passive viewer’.
6.2. Research limitation
The limitations of this presented study are linked to exploratory research,
and they are: the convenient respondent sampling, the subjective evaluation of
respondents’ statements, and the subjective choice of the evaluated 360-degree
video, and the impact on the results by some film features which were not spe-
cific to a 360-degree video (e.g. general style of directing, non-animated films,
and length of films). However, the qualitative approach allows us to depict the
actual process of usage technology by viewers (users) and to capture the aspects
of viewer experience which otherwise may be omitted.
We can also evaluate the enhancement of viewer experience by 360-degree
video features turning to an experiment based on the comparison of a film with
the same plot produced in two different formats – as the traditional and 360-
degree format. However, this method would be more costly compared to our
study, and also not free of limitations, for example: subjective choices of the
plot, the question of film evaluation while the respondents watch the film twice
or the question about the similarity of groups in the case when comparison
would be made between groups watching only one film format.
6.3. Future research
We point to the following fields of future research:
1. The extension of the research methods, including the above mentioned exper-
iment aiming to compare the viewer experience by presenting a film produ-
ced as a traditional one and as a 360-degree video. Other qualitative methods
allowing to capture the consumer’s experience can also be very useful, for
example, ‘means-end’ research, or the research based on metaphors (e.g. the
methodology developed by Zaltman & Zaltman (2010)).
2. So far, the literature studies mostly focus on the features of a 360-degree
video with limited analysis of viewer characteristics, such as differences in
the cultural background of viewers or the viewer’s age.
3. An interesting direction of future research is an experimental testing of differ-
ent aspects of film screenwriting or film shooting. There is also a question as
to what extent the new video technology induces and shapes the artistic film
characteristics, leading to the possible emergence of a new film genre.
U. Świerczyńska-Kaczor, M. Żelazowska, M. Kotlińska, J. Wachowicz
120
Acknowledgements
The presented study is a part of broader research project, conducted at The
Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Lodz: ‘Badania statuto-
we: Zarządzanie projektem w branży audiowizualnej – analiza portfolio ryzyk
w projekcie audiowizualnym’ [Research project: Project management in the
audiovisual industry – risk portfolio analysis in an audiovisual project].
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... Ways of directing attention in CVR are proposed in [16]- [18]. The quality of narration is evaluated by viewers in [19]. Subjective questionnaires and recorded head orientation were used to assess the quality of video cuts and storytelling in [15]. ...
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