Watch the most important & spectacular 360 RT videos from 2016

2016 was the year panoramic videos became not just a diversion, but a different way to bring news to an audience. RT is an early and committed adopter of 360, and we are still experimenting with what works best in the format, but all of these news stories could not have been as informative or as powerful without the technology.

The liberation of Palmyra in March was one of the biggest symbolic victories over Islamic State in a year when the tide finally began to turn against it. But righteous satisfaction was tempered with anxiety – just how much of the city, which is over 3,000 years old, and had contained monuments from several most notable ancient cultures, survived? This 360 video fills us with pain, but also relief.

The inside of the International Space Station has been documented well, but none of the earlier photos of videos gave a true impression of what it is actually like to navigate through the ISS, as its inhabitants do every day. With the help of a guide, cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko, you can feel the dimensions of the space station, explore its nooks and crannies, and become bewitched by the spectacular views that it offers up.

Russia’s floating Arctic base – set up from scratch each year, and dismantled after several weeks – has become a feature of Polar life. The first-ever 360 footage from the location captures a plane making a challenging on the icy improvised landing strip.

As Europe was struck by an increasingly grotesque progression of terrorist attacks through the year, as well as condemnation, there emerged a helplessness, and indecision about how to deal with an adversary whose aims and value systems were so different. Some advocated vengeance, others understanding, others simply admitted that there was nothing that could be done. This uncertainty is captured by the impromptu memorial in Nice, on the same luxurious and sunny promenade where people had been massacred by the dozen the day before, where people now laid flowers, wrote messages of love, said prayers, or simply recorded videos on their phone, trying to reconcile themselves with the atrocity that had occurred.

Traditional footage of skydivers moving in formation has lost much of its luster through over-familiarity. But brought to 360, the speed, thrill, difficulty combine for a spectacle that is almost overwhelming. In this video, 106 parachutists descend from 5,500 meters over the historic town of Kolomna, outside of Moscow, setting a series of records for formation-building.

Svetlana Kapanina is has been one of the world’s best stunt pilots for almost three decades. It is not just the improbable angles she manages to extract from her Sukhoi, but also the look of relaxed concentration on her face, as she nonchalantly performs one acrobatic trick after another, a demeanor that marks out the best performers.

In Eastern Ukraine, the intensity of violence has declined, but while the news media look elsewhere for more visceral forms of suffering, normality has not returned to Donbass. The grim winter colors, and the harrowing testimonies narrated over the drone-shot footage point to a conflict that remains intractable and devoid of easy solutions.