From immersive 360-degree photospheres and videos, to visually fascinating Tiny Planets, 360 cameras offer a unique take on photography. If you love taking pictures on your smartphone, you’ll probably love shooting 360-degree stills and videos.
Getting Started with 360
Before you settle on a 360-degree camera, you have to ask yourself where your priorities lie. Form factors, still image capabilities, image stabilisation, mobile app quality, and the ability to shoot LOG and RAW media should all influence your decision. And then finally, there’s the price.
Cameras that can shoot 360-degree footage have at least two lenses; one at the front, and one at the back. These lenses capture wide-angle video. The camera stitches the footage together to create a single 360-degree image.
This has its benefits. There’s no need to frame your shots since you’re capturing everything around you. This is known as over capture. You can then edit the footage down later to create your video.
Shooting with 360 Camera
If you do shoot into the sun, frame the sun directly between the lenses – on the stitch line to both help hide and create even exposures – to minimise disparities and lines. For close-ups of people, keep them facing a lens so that the stitch line doesn’t dissect their face.
Many cameras offer basic manual exposure controls, DNG raw stills, flat video profiles, HDR and bracketing (very useful for extreme light and indoor photography).
Connecting a phone via the camera’s inbuilt Wi-fi or Bluetooth (or cables) makes editing images and videos by phone a breeze, especially with the Insta360 apps (the new GoPro app is a close second). Within minutes you can shoot, download, process and post 360 images, or even convert them to “tiny planets”, which are warped perspective images created by wrapping the 360 image or video around in the app.
Editing your Footage
There are two types of 360 videos - Monoscopic and Stereoscopic.
Monoscopic is the most common type of 360 video and also is what is commonly supported by 360 video players (such as YouTube and Facebook). These are flat renderings 360 degree renderings of a shot where you can move around the video, but you have no real depth perception (ex. Google street view).
Stereoscopic video is for creating immersive virtual reality environments, introducing 3D objects and depth into the video (ex. objects flying around you or reaching out to touch the object approaching you). Stereoscopic video can be viewed using a VR headset. This format is only used by the pros - is not typical for 360 videos hobbyists ($$$).
Editing softwares like Pinnacle Studio Ultimate and Adobe Photoshop make it easy to edit your 360 videos in an editing environment you may already be familiar with. Your camera does the work to capture the footage from every possible angle, but in a video editing software, you can refine your footage to tell the story you want to show. Add your footage to the timeline and edit! There are a few additional controls specific for 360 editing but if you are just looking to trim or enhance color, the timeline is all you need!