Video technology is constantly changing how we tell visual stories. 360° video is one of today’s most immersive and captivating formats. However, 360° video can also be intimidating to first-time creators since the format is so much different from traditional video. If you want to learn how to make 360-degree videos, you’re in the right place!
In this guide, we’ll embark on a journey through the world of 360° video, learn what 360° video is, the advantages it offers, the equipment needed for filming, and how to upload your 360° video to YouTube. Whether you’re a content creator, marketer, or simply curious about the future of visual media, join us as we navigate the exciting realm of 360° video.
What is a 360° Video?
360-degree video, also known as equirectangular or spherical video, is a type of video recording that captures a view in all directions simultaneously. Viewers can pan, tilt, and look around while playing the video to explore the entire scene. Essentially, the video puts the viewer right in the middle of the action!
Advantages of Using 360° Video
You might ask yourself, “Why would anyone need to create 360° content?” As mentioned earlier, 360° video is much more immersive when compared to traditional “flat” video, allowing viewers to engage with the content by looking around. This perspective creates a new way of storytelling. 360° video is also great for virtual tours, which allow you to showcase locations, properties, or products. 360° video offers many benefits for virtual training, education, and even unique ways to market or advertise a product or event.
How is a 360° Video Viewed and Experienced?
360° videos are viewed in many ways and on various devices. The three most popular are smartphones, computers, and VR headsets. Smartphones are probably the most accessible way to view 360° content. When you watch a 360° video on YouTube or Facebook, you can pan and tilt your smartphone to “look around” the 360° video. Similarly, you can do the same on a desktop computer, but instead of panning and tilting, you can click and drag around on the video screen. Finally, VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 provide the most immersive 360° experience because the video is all you can see while wearing the headset. You can then look around and experience the 360° video as if you are actually in the scene!
Equipment for Shooting and Creating 360° Videos
To film your own 360° videos, you will need to start with a 360° camera. There are many different types of 360° cameras and camera rigs. However, the most popular and user-friendly versions have two different fisheye lenses built into them, such as the GoPro Max and Insta360 X3. Next, you will need a mount for the 360° camera. Finding suitable support can create a unique challenge because the 360° camera sees all! So, creatives most often use a monopod with a small tri-leg base. Or if a person is carrying the camera, a selfie stick mount can work, too. Some 360° cameras will also come with mounts or monopods, which will work perfectly. In most cases, the 360° camera automatically “removes” the monopod or selfie stick from the video, making working with those mounts very convenient.
Image via Insta360.
Stitching and Editing 360° Video
Probably the most intimidating part of 360° video is the post-production. 360° video isn’t like traditional video, where you can immediately start editing. First, the 360° video must be “stitched” together to create a spherical format. (Equirectangular.) This step makes sense because you have two different 180° lenses filming two different angles. So, the videos need to be “stitched” together to create a complete 360° video file. Luckily, nearly all modern 360° cameras include software or an app that will automatically stitch the footage together for you.
In most cases, you can also edit your 360° video using the same software included with your 360° camera. However, if you want even more editing options, you can use a video editing app such as Adobe Premiere Pro that supports editing 360° videos. Premiere Pro includes a host of 360°/VR specific effects designed to work perfectly with 360° footage. If you use traditional video effects on 360° footage, you will get an unwanted “seam line” visible once the footage is projected in 360°. The effects used on 360° footage must be specifically tailored for 360° video to prevent undesired consequences. You can find these effects in Premiere Pro under the Immersive Effects folder. Check out the Adobe User Guide to learn about editing 360 footage in Premiere Pro.
Uploading 360 Videos
Before uploading your 360° video to a site such as YouTube, you must ensure your video has 360°/VR metadata encoded into the video. This encoding will likely automatically happen if you use the editing software with your 360° camera. However, if you are using an editing app such as Premiere Pro, you must turn on the setting “Video is VR” when you are on the Export menu. This export setting will inject the correct metadata into your video so that sites like YouTube will know the video you upload is 360°.
The recommended file formats to export your 360° video are MP4 and MOV. The recommended codecs are H.264 or H.265. Check out Google’s Help Center for more information on Uploading 360° Videos to YouTube.
What to Look for When Buying 360° Videos?
Like traditional video projects, you may want to purchase stock footage to enhance your 360° video project. Licensing 360° videos requires a few more considerations because you are dealing with a spherical video.
First, make sure the stock video clip you are looking at purchasing is in the 360° equirectangular format. On Pond5, you can see this indicated by the 360VR watermark at the top left of the video preview. You can then click and drag to look around the 360° video on Pond5. Next, ensure the stock footage is the same frame rate as your 360° video project. Resolution is also a critical factor when dealing with 360° footage. I recommend only buying 360° footage with at least 4K resolution because when viewing 360° footage on a headset, you aren’t viewing the entire video clip, just a slice of it. So you’ll want as much resolution as possible for a sharper looking experience. Finally, before you purchase any 360° stock video clip filmed at a real-life location, check the licensing to see if the video clip is allowed for commercial or editorial usage.
Hopefully, this guide will help you to understand the ins and outs of 360° video creation. 360° video is still a new and evolving field. Every year brings new innovations that can make or break how the public adopts 360° video. However, with the upcoming Apple Vision Pro VR headset, we will surely see more and more demand for 360° video content!