Creating 360 / Virtual Reality Video

To many, the world of Virtual Reality is what we see on the TV with images of people with weird looking headsets wired to the hilt and grabbing at some unseen thing (to us) and watching something that is obviously in mid air (and possibly of their own imagination).

To me, it is reminiscent of my last pooch, the original VB the Dog, who one day managed to eat some funny flowers and an hour later was chasing fictitious rabbits around the room and leaping at things in mid air that simply weren’t there.

(The vet bills were astronomic as this was at 10pm and he had to have his stomach pumped. It turned out to be bella donna, which is more than a tad poisonous).

But I digress.

360 video – virtual reality by another name – does have a place, and is easily created using one of the many 360 degree cameras now available on the market (see the list of options at the end). I have a 360Fly camera, and the last real time it was used was my, Jacqui and Budweiser the Dog’s trip back to Western Australia in October, where we bolted it to the top of Jacqui’s Suzuki Grand Vitara via the roof rack and a Joby flexible tripod.

2018-02-11_15-30-05.jpgWe then obtained what I think is still the first and only 360 video of the famous Nullarbor Plain!

Using this footage then, I though I might put together a small tutorial to give you an idea of just how this stuff can be used and how simple it actually is to create and edit, once you know the steps and are aware of the few “gotchas” there are.

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Gotchas

The first of these is mainly due to the way your camera creates 360 video, what file types the video editor will accept to edit it, and then the output system to view it and what it wants.

For the sake of simplicity here, as mentioned we use a 360Fly which has its own editing system called 360Fly Director. This is very basic however, and while simple edits can be made and you can output from it to YouTube and Facebook, we are using Corel Videostudio 10.5 to make our edits.

The catch here is that the 360Fly outputs spherical video, and Videostudio wants a different format to edit the file called EquiRectangular. Luckily, 360Fly Director does allow us to convert from spherical to EquiRectangular, although the means to do so are not immediately evident (see attached screen shot) Also, be aware, depending on the length of the original video, and the resolution in which it has been shot, it can take quite some time to convert even on a fast computer.

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Our Nullarbor footage for example was around 9 minutes and in 4K, so it took over 15 minutes to convert.

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Once the video is converted however, it can be imported to the timeline of Corel Videostudio very quickly.

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Once there, we need to make it so that is easy to edit and set keyframes. This means we have to tell Videostudio to show the video as a sort of pseudo 2D mode, thus making this easier. Why we do this, is that with 360 degree video, you have the ability to change the point of view (POV) you want the viewer to see from. Remember, the camera is pointing in all directions at once when shooting, so forcing the viewer into a POV, allows you to concentrate on interesting aspects of the video they might otherwise miss.

The POV is not fixed however; at any time, the viewer can change this POV to suit themselves.

360 To Standard

With the video on the timeline in Videostudio, it is right clicked and the option 360 to Standard selected. This creates a second window. The original 360 degree source video is in the left and the new view, the converted standard view, in the right. You can see a square-with-crosshairs marker in the left, and this is the POV indicator. As you move this around, the 2D video on the right changes accordingly with the new POV.

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Each time you change this view, a keyframe on the timeline is created to reflect the new view. Keyframes can later be adjusted or deleted later as you wish.

The field of view – which is akin to a zoom – can also be modified. The sliders you can see let you fine tune these positions.

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When the edit is to your satisfaction, clicking OK takes you back to the timeline and you can see the video in the preview window. Here, if you want, titles, filters and so on can now be added.

Output

The video can now be output; simply use the settings for the playback device to be used – TV screen, smartphone, YouTube or Facebook – requires.

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If you have a pair of VR goggles such as those from Samsung or 360Fly or even Google Cardboard, you can then view your edited video in glorious 360 surround!

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