Learn 360 Video – Getting your start in 360 VR Video
360 VR Video is a new style of video that has been talked a lot about in recent years. I’m going to give you an overview of what I think of 360 video and help you get your start. As a stock footage videographer I was aware stock agencies like Videoblocks (now Storyblocks) and Pond 5 were supporting licensing of 360 VR footage. If you’re unfamiliar with stock footage this is a business model that allows you license your footage. Here is a link to my free course if you are interested.
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In my 2017 Media Creators Guide I did my research and summarized the 360 cameras I was most likely to get this year. I had my taste of 360 video wearing the futuristic headsets using youtube videos and also a 360 VR experience playing a video game.
What is 360 video
In my own words it’s a way to capture video, photo, or a time lapse that someone can view in 360 degrees. The part I’m excited about is the user can manipulate the video using their device or touch to change their point of view. 360 Video can be enjoyed on Youtube and facebook from computers and mobiles devices. You don’t need a VR headset to enjoy it.
Which camera to get and what is the cost
As I mentioned I got the 360 fly 4k from Best Buy. This set me back about $567 US for the camera. I am not sponsored by 360 fly byw. This camera seems to be the best all around camera with good reviews. It uses a single lens orb shaped camera that captures the upper horizontal view in 360 degrees. Other cameras have more than one lens. It’s competitors are the Nikon Keymission, Samsung Gear 360, and Ricoh Theta. Some have mixed reviews or suffer from a difficult app or post production process. That is why I choose the 360 fly 4k. Ihaven’t tried them out yet. The Gopro Omni 360 video rig goes for a cool $5000.
How easy is it to use?
Like most action camera’s these days you need to download an app and connect to the camera wirelessly. Once you are connected it isn’t too difficult to start taking the video footage. The roadblock for me was dealing with the footage in post production and sharing. This may have been a combination of the limitation of my ipad’s memory and some bugs in the software. The size of these 360 4k files are huge. 1 minute of 4k footage creates files in the 400mb range. I ended up using 360 fly 4k Director program to work with the files on my laptop. There is a learning curve to using the software (which I cover in my upcoming course), but once you learn the process it’s quite straightforward. There were some bugs in the software like not letting me add music or remove the audio from my clips. I haven’t tried this out yet, but I think there will be difficulty mixing 360 video with regular video clips. You will be happy to know that there is no stitching required!
How is the footage?
The footage is pretty amazing. You are limited in your manual control of the video, but the F2.5 lens lets enough light in for a great picture in most conditions. You get the wide fish eye look, but the end result is pretty impressive. This particular camera has the standard tripod thread mount to get stable footage. I also got the handle bar mount accessory to do cycling pov 4k 360 video. I’m really happy you’re able to output 4k resolution (3840 × 1920) 360 video. I uploaded the footage to both facebook, youtube, and stock agencies. My footage so far has been accepted on Pond 5. If working with your own video editor you will have to use software to inject it before uploading. This particular camera is both rugged, small, and waterproof. It can be treated like a gopro and even use similar mounts. Some people have even taken it up on a drone.
Editing 4k 360 footage in Final Cut Pro X
If you want to work with the 360 fly footage in your video editor then there is a different process. I use Final Cut Pro X as my video editor. Why would I want to edit this footage in Final Cut Pro X you wonder? Well I wanted the flexibility to combine different video 360 video clips in a proper video with music. The 360 director app is not a full scale video editor. I also found there were bugs in trying to add music.
I usually shoot my footage in 2880 X 2880 24fps. When working with this footage in the 360 Fly I have the choice of converting to share video in 4 different resolutions. I selected the highest resolution available for 4k (3840 X 1920) in a 2:1 aspect ratio. This gives you the most real estate to work with in post-production.
I found when I used video clips in this resolution in final cut pro x I would end up with this black circle on the top view that I read about in the forums, even after injecting the footage with the spatial media metadata injector. The solution was to create a 2k Video project in Final cut pro x. I created a 2k project of 2048 X 1024. I haven’t tested other projects with other resolutions, but I think any resolution that is below the 4k would work. After working with your project in the video editor you will need to export the project into a video file (.mov) I experimented with trimming, adding music, and adding various clips. I found that adding lower thirds text gave problems in distorting the video. I then injected this file using the tool google recommended and selected the spatial option. I then uploaded the project to Youtube and Facebook with good results. This is a little tricky and I’m sure there are different variations you can get away with to work with the footage in your video editor. This is to be expected with a still early video technology.
If you need a bit more hand-holding with this then consider signing up for my 360 news letter below. I am currently producing an online course on 360 video that will cover this in more depth.
We are still in the early days of 360 video, but we can see from the platform support, amount of VR headsets to enjoy 360 video, and a growing selection of first and second generation camera’s that it is a good time to start getting experience with 360 video. Now that I’ve worked with it I can see the many applications for 360 video like real estate tours, training simulations, or just creating 360 pov experiences. Add in a VR headset to enhance the experience, and the future is looking bright. I was excited to have my first 360 4k stock video clips approved on Pond 5. There are a limited supply of these clips and are currently priced at a premium. Perhaps future generation camera’s will offer more manual control and improved built-in stabilization or gimbals. This is definitely a new dimension to video that I’m excited about.
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