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360 Video

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What is 360 video | How do you shoot 360 | Hardware | How to edit 360 | How to view 360

What is 360 video?

360 is the next generation in videography and still photo capture. It uses specialised cameras featuring dual back-to back lens’ which, as the name suggests, captures an image in 360 degrees around the camera.

360 is named for the number of degrees comprising a circle. 360 adds a whole new level of engagement to video and still imagery, as the viewer feels involved in a completely ‘immersive’ experience, due to the circular/ spherical environment made possible by the dual lens system. The idea of the ‘spherical’ image (also known as photospheres or videospheres) comes from the fact that the viewer feels completely surrounded by the image, as if inside a globe (or sphere!) looking outwards and can look around themselves in all directions within the image, including up and down.

How do you shoot 360?

360 video requires a dedicated camera with back to back lens’ to capture the 360 degree image. The fact that the camera is image capturing on all sides takes a little adjustment for those used to traditional photography. It is easy to forget that you, as the photographer, will be in shot if you don’t conceal yourself whilst recording is in progress.

360 video can work well for things like virtual tours or immersive VR experiences as a series of static shots, utilising tripod mounted cameras. It can also work for scenarios with movement, like adventure sports or driving tours, using head or car mounted camera’s where the movement is purely linear, with minimal rotation or tilting of the actual camera. Remember that the unique feature of viewing 360 video is that the navigation and movement within the image is in the hands of the viewer, not the photographer. Therefore the camera itself should not be rotating or tilting up or down to a large degree.

It pays to remember that the nature of 360 opens up the perspective of the viewer to such a degree, that you don’t want to waste the potential. Keep this in mind when setting up your shots, ensuring that there is something engaging on all sides the camera, or something to give the viewer a different perspective from their usual experience. Always ask yourself "Would the viewer lose anything worthwhile if this shot wasn't in 360?" If the answer could be no, perhaps reconsider your set up.

Ideally, the camera should be positioned to roughly represent the eye-line of the viewer, as if they were standing on the location in person. Maintain the camera level to the horizon, with no 'artistic' angles. Remember also that in a 360 shot, due to its curved spherical nature, objects will appear to be much further away to the viewer than they would in a traditional photograph or video image. So as well as ensuring there is something of visual interest on all sides of the camera, ensure that principal subjects such as presenters should be no more than 1-2 metres away from the camera. The ideal distance for background scenery will of course depend on its size and scale.

Another factor unique to 360 shooting, is the dual lens system employed by most 360 cameras. This creates 2 issues to be aware of. Firstly, 360 cameras tend to have a master camera and a secondary camera. The master camera is generally the one which features the manufacturers logo on the same side. This is the camera you should aim at your main action, as this is the position the scene will start at by default when played back.

The second issue of the dual, lens system is an effect called ‘stitch lines’. This is where the images from the front and rear lens’ abut each other, resulting in a fine blurred line in the image. This line is often discrete and may be more noticeable on video generated by some cameras more than others.  Regardless which camera you use, it is best not to have anything of major importance, such as people, in that part of the image, directly to the sides of the camera. As you gain more experience, you will get used to how best to position your camera to minimise this effect. Many 360 cameras have their own apps which can be installed on mobile devices (subject to compatibility) which enable you to view the camera’s output to assist in bringing your vision to life.

Please see video resources below for some examples.

Video resources

360 tips from Youtube Creator Academy

Video length: 3:17

Video Length: 3:06

Hardware

There are many different 360 cameras on the market from basic, with average image quality, right up to professional models. Some suggested models at the mid-range ‘prosumer’ level, which have been shown to work well in the library environment are:

Nikon Keymission 360

Samsung Gear 360

Ricoh Theta V

How to edit 360 video

The concept of ‘stitch lines’ between the dual camera lenses was touched on above. Files created by some 360 cameras require an extra step to be carried out prior to editing your video. This process is called 'stitching'. This process ties the two separate images produced by the front and rear lenses together into one 360 ‘spherical’ image file, which can then be edited. Depending on the camera, the stitching process may take place either by the camera itself or on desktop software. Taking our three cameras listed above as examples, the Nikon Keymission 360 does all required stitching 'in-camera', meaning it is done automatically by the camera itself, and no further stitching process needs to be undertaken by the user. This is a big positive in your workflow as you can get straight into editing your video, saving time. The Ricoh Theta V can stitch in-camera, via its mobile app, or via Ricoh’s own desktop software. The 'in-camera' stitching option with this camera is aimed at time-saving over quality, and a better result may be achieved using the desktop software. Samsung Gear 360 files stitch only via Samsung’s desktop Gear360 Action Director Software. You simply open the clip in the software and the stitching process starts automatically.

Once stitched, 360 video can be edited via any commonly available video editing program, such as Adobe Premier, Final Cut Pro, or Cyberlink Power Director. It can also be done within software which accompanies some of the 360 cameras, such as Gear360 Action Director, which accompanies the Samsung Gear 360.

Editing 360 video has much in common with editing traditional video but with a few significant differences. Some of these differences include the need to set a starting direction/ orientation for your video (ie. the first frame your viewer sees when opening the clip, although the need to do this is minimised if you follow the tip above, of aiming the 'master' camera at the action you wish your viewer to see when they first open the scene), the different challenges in overlaying titles and objects in 360 as opposed to traditional 'flat' video and the removal of unwanted elements, eg. The tripod, from your shots.

Video resources

Top 10 beginner tips for 360 video making with Nikon Keymission 360

How to Edit 360 VR Video for YouTube Using Samsung Action Director w/ Premiere Pro CC 2017

How to Edit 360 Video

How to view 360 video

There are several ways in which to view 360 video. 360 content can be viewed via popular platforms such as Youtube or Facebook, which both offer compatible viewers. On the most basic level they can be viewed on a computer, tablet or phone screen, in which case the viewer will have an onscreen joystick-type control to manipulate the image and change the perspective.

To view 360 stills or video on your desktop computer, which have been downloaded from the web or which you have produced yourself, you can download a 360 viewer such as Insta360 Player which is available across all operating systems. Insta360 and also provides editing solutions for 360 video. Popular media player VLC also supports playback of 360 video and images.

For a more immersive experience on a budget, you can use a viewer such as Google Cardboard, which also has its own app, and works with compatible phones across Android and iOS. There are many other 360 viewers available across iOS and Android. Just search ‘360 VR viewer’ in the relevant app store and try out a selection. Some such as Go VR will let you play 360 vids stored locally on your device, or streamed by entering a web address, for videos embedded on a webpage, or on Youtube.

360 video examples

360 Tours

QUT with Jessie Hughes

Bodleian Library

Boston Public Library

Adventure videos

Eiger North Face – Summit

Port Lincoln, South Australia

Historical reenactments

Battle Road: The American Revolution in 360/VR

How can I use 360 cameras in my library?

State Library of Queensland has 360 camera kits available for loan, comprising 5 Nikon Keymission 360 cameras, and accessories.. For more information see our Kits for Loan page. To request a kit, search the RLQ online catalogue for “EZ-Robot” and use your library membership login to reserve. For further information email ic@slq.qld.gov.au.

Last updated
7th February 2019