Creating 360° video is as similar to shooting traditional video as it is different.
Many of the same rules apply to 360° (or immersive video) as they do traditional video production; use quality equipment, plan in advance, bad audio can ruin a good video, etc. However, there are few key rules you’ll want to keep in mind when shooting 360° video. Following these six simple rules will help ensure your next 360° video turns out great!
#1 The Camera Is A Character - The biggest difference between creating 360° video and traditional video is the presence it can create in the viewer. In 360 video, the viewer is no longer a fly-on-the-wall but instead is immersed ‘in the scene’ and feels as if they were actually on location where you are filming. You want to be sure to keep this in mind when setting up your shots. The easiest way to do this is to imagine that you are the character in the scene. If you were going to relive this scene as one of the characters, where would you want to be seated or standing?
#2 Mind The Stitch - 360° video cameras are made by combining multiple single-lens cameras into one larger multi-lens unit. Most professional grade 360° rigs have six or more individual lenses. In order to get your final 360° image, you will need to ‘stitch’ those multiple camera feeds into one seamless image. It is extremely important you get this stitch correct! A bad stitch job will take your viewer out of the scene and break the immersive power of 360 video.
The simplest way to avoid bad stitching is to place each one of your actors or centers of the action, in front of an individual lens. Don’t film action on a stitch line. This will simplify getting a clean stitch in post-production. Stitching software has gotten significantly better in the past few years however it is still incredibly importing to keep this concept in mind. Stitching action on a seam can be incredibly painful to fix. (Note: Many modern 360 cameras will now stitch footage automatically inside the camera. However, they only do about 90% of the work. You will still need to go in and adjust your footage accordingly to get the best result.)
#3 Don’t Forget About Sound - A good audio track is important in any video! However, it can be even more important in a 360° video. Not only will good 360° (or spatial) audio help immerse your viewers in the scene, you can actually use spatial audio to help tell your story. Without adding some large obnoxious animated arrow on the screen, how else might you get your viewer to turn around and see the action unfolding behind them? Many modern 360 cameras will capture spatial audio internally, however, we always recommend an external microphone to get the best results. Professional spatial mics start at just a few hundred dollars. Spend the extra few bucks, it will be worth every penny! There are also plenty of spatial audio post-production tools now available that will make your audio processing pain-free.
#4 Move With Caution! - One of the most common complaints I hear about 360° video is that it makes people feel motion sick or nauseous. Many 360° professionals will tell you this is due to the camera moving. However, this is only partially true. Camera movement in a 360° scene can make the viewer feel nauseous, yes. However, how you move the camera is more of the determining factor than if you move the camera. If you do plan to move your camera, use steady, smooth and constant motion. That said, I still caution you to only move the camera if it makes complete sense for the story you are trying to tell. Acceleration, deceleration and shaky cameras cause most nausea in VR and 360° video, not movement in general. One other trick that can also help reduce the feeling of motion sickness is to put your user ‘inside’ of a stationary object while they are moving. Think in a car, wearing a helmet, or in the cockpit of a spaceship.
#5 Fill Your Scene - I can't tell you how many 360° videos I've seen that are almost good. The story is there, the actors are well-rehearsed, the camera quality is high and the audio track is on point. However, I see far too often that people forget 360° video is all around you! To help ensure your 360° video is engaging, try filling your entire scene with interesting visual stimuli, background actors and/or extras. Choosing interesting locations can also help create a ‘full scene’. In some instances, you can even tell an entire second or third story within one video by placing secondary action outside the user's natural forward gaze. Or have a little fun and add a few easter eggs for your viewers to find along the way. This will help ensure your content is not only engaging but can also drive users to come back and watch your video again and again looking for new exciting bits they may have missed the first time.
#6 Know When To Say No - Telling someone no is difficult, especially if that person wants to give you money to do something you love! However, not all video makes for a good 360 video. There are many situations when traditional 2D video will do a much better job of telling a story when compared to 360° video. If you do choose to create something in 360°, make sure you understand the why behind what! 360° video can be incredibly challenging top produce at a high level, if you do decide 360° is the best option to tell your story, be sure you know why. This will help you and the industry at large continue to create interesting and engaging 360° content for years to come.
These are just a few of the rules that I like to follow any time I shoot 360° video. However, rules are made to be broken! Don’t be afraid to get out there, see what works for you, have a little fun, and experiment. Happy shooting.
If you'd like to learn more about the process of creating high-quality 360° video, don't hesitate to reach out at info@ChocolateMilkDonuts.com