360, VR, or Spherical?

Recently, I have started to do some video work for a company. This week, we are taking on a new task...360 video...or VR...or Spherical, whatever floats your boat. This is a really 'interesting' new landscape of video. Before this week, I had no experience making them, now I am tasked with learning the ins and outs of the platform. 

The first challenge: finding my preferred stitching software. The first software I'm using: Auto Pano Video.  This software is recommended by GoPro. It isn't that difficult to get the hang of, but here are my pros and cons.

Pros: Easy interface, simple tools for editing, pretty straight forward editing options. And that is where it ends.

Cons: You have to import all your footage at once, which means you have to edit everything at once. There is no 'live rendering'. Now on to the actual editing process.

Step 1: Import your footage. To import you have to bring in ALL the videos you are going to use at once. Once imported, you have to completely change the project. 

Step 2: Synchronization. By far, this software is the easiest to use to synchronize footage. It can be done either by audio or motion. I used audio for both videos I have done so far because they had a pretty loud a distinct sound it could synchronize to. 

Step 3: The stitching. The most important thing after synching the footage. This gives the video the ability to manipulate into a '360' space. If the stitch is messed up, your video will not look good at all. After you set your stitch, the preview widow opens and this is where the real fun began.

Step 4: Leveling. Now this isn't an official step, but this is necessary. After stitching, the video needs to be balanced so plane or horizon is level. For the first video I did I made sure that the top of the jersey racks looked lined up. On the second one, I used the ceiling lights as my indicator. I'll admit the second one was hard because at a certain point it looks like you're staring into a globe and the edges will slope off. Since the lights were not even I had to apply a transition so that all through the video the lights would appear to be level. 

Step 5: Stabilization. Now if you decide to shoot a video that is static, this part isn't as big of a deal. If you have movement you will want to use the stabilization feature

Step 6: Color Correction. Since each camera is at a different angle, the lighting isn't 100% accurate. I applied an auto color correction to balance out the color. 

Step 7: Blending. Blending is what is used to reduce the parallax issue that can occur with 360 video. There are two options: Smooth and Sharp. I used smooth for both videos, but I'm going to try do Sharp on one. 

Step 8: Render. Here is the part where you sit back and relax  and let the video render out so you can later view it in 360. I use the 4K UHD settings, because anything below that doesn't look as great. I'm using a 15" Macbook Pro with 16GB of RAM and it still took me about 30-hour, depending on the length, the render the videos. 

Alright now this part is done, in the next post I'll discuss on how to post the video to Youtube in 360. If you read all through this, give me a follow or like on social media, and stay tuned for more post and videos.