7 Editing Tips for 360 Video
Joshua Cameron; Gary Gould; and Adrian Ma
In this chapter, we’ll go over some key suggestions to make sure you get the most out of your 360 video and some different programs you can use to put your content together.
Options for editing programs
There are several different options for 360 content creators — from free mobile apps to professional-level software — when it comes to editing and it is important to understand your needs in order to identify the platform that will best work for you. Are you producing fun holiday videos to post on social media or longer form 360 documentaries? Are you working with a high-end gaming computer or a pretty standard laptop? We’ve found that editing 360 footage, especially once you start working with 5.7K or higher files, can be quite burdensome for computers to handle. Editing a few clips here and there won’t likely give you a lot of trouble, however, if you’re getting into more advanced or professional 360 video work, you’re going to want to make sure your computer has the specs to handle the workload.
If you’re looking to do some serious desktop 360 video editing, please note that most of these manufacturers suggest running these programs on computers with more processing power. As you add more and more 360 clips to your editing program, low power computers will start to sputter and pause, making for a frustrating editing process. This is a good baseline to have:
- PC (Windows 7 or higher), Mac (macOS 10.11 or higher)
- Most Intel/AMD processors within the last few years should be fine
- At least 16GB of RAM (this will help the programs and processes run much more smoothly and quickly)
- A powerful enough video graphics card for 4K video editing and rendering (i.e. the AMD RX 500 series or Nvidia GeForce GTX series)
- A decent amount of hard drive space, at least 500 GB, and preferably as the faster and more efficient Solid State Drive. You’ll want to consider additional hard drive storage or purchase an external hard drive because 360 video files are so large and can accumulate quickly.
The company that manufactured your 360 camera and its native editing app will most likely offer ideal computer specs to maximize their product. When in doubt, go to the company’s website and their FAQs or production documentation.
In general, your camera will most likely have a native editing app to make basic cuts and create sequences. It’s best to start with that platform to help understand the ins and outs of your specific device. Below, we’ve included links to editing FAQs and editing program downloads for several of the most popular 360 camera apps on the market at the moment:
CyberLink Action Director (for Samsung Gear)
MOBILE APPS FOR EDITING
There are several excellent mobile apps for 360 video editing (and most of them are absolutely free and have both iOS and Android versions!). Most of these apps will allow you to add straightforward effects like filters, text and music files to 360 photos and video. In general, the differences are in the user interface, so try them out and see which app you feel most comfortable using. One warning though: you’ll likely need a decent smartphone to handle the workload that comes with editing this type of content on a mobile device. At the very least, having adequate storage and memory will be key to being able to edit your content smoothly. Here are a few we recommend you check out:
PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS ($$$)
The final category of editing programs is the professional-level platforms that will cost you some money to purchase. But if you’re aspiring to produce higher level 360 content, going with a paid program is necessary to have access to the advanced features and editing flexibility needed for professional quality immersive videos. Here are some programs we’ve used before and would recommend:
Adobe Premiere Pro (Windows or Mac)
An industry-standard video editing platform, Premiere Pro is widely used by content producers for all types of video creation and has the muscle to handle 4K+ video work. In recent years, Adobe has added 360/VR audio and video editing features to the program. It’s smooth integration with other important Adobe programs, including Photoshop and After Effects, makes Premiere a strong option for 360 filmmakers wanting to add things like motion graphics, 3D effects and spatial audio to their videos. Especially when combined with these other Adobe products, Premiere is a real powerhouse program that can tackle nearly any kind of video project. This is definitely a pricer option, as a Premiere Pro subscription license typically costs about $40 CAD per month, while having access to the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite is about $70 per month (although students can apply for significant discounts).
Final Cut Pro X (Mac)
For Mac users, Final Cut is the chief rival to Premiere Pro, and it’s similarly feature-packed with most everything a producer needs to put together high quality video. Final Cut has a reputation for offering faster rendering, real time video effects and more stability than Premiere. It’s also more affordable than Premiere Pro, with a one time payment of about $400 CAD.
While Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro represent two of the most widely used professional video editing programs, there are numerous alternatives that may not offer the some heavyweight horsepower, but come at a fraction of the cost, while readily meeting your needs.
Avid Media Composer (Windows and Mac)
Another industry favourite editing platform with a solid suite for 360/VR editing features. An annual subscription for the full program will run you about $650 a year, but as an initial step, you can download a free version of their software to see whether it suits your needs.
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate (Windows)
An efficient and complete video editing toolbox for a one-time payment of about $130. This program gives you plenty of editing features, including more than 2000 different filters and effects and masking tools. The most recent editions have beefed up its 360 editing capabilities, allowing for better colour correction and cool effects like freeze framing. It maxes out at 4K resolution videos, however, so if you intend to work primarily with the 5K+ settings that the newer generation 360 cameras are offering, this program won’t likely cut it for you.
Molanis VR (Windows and Mac)
A flexible, multitrack video editing software that can be had for less than $100. Offers some cool 360 preset effects/filters and most of the essential editing features you’d want, but also tops out at 4K resolution videos.
Regardless of whichever editing program (or programs) you’ll be using, there are a few specific techniques and fixes you can use to help optimize and polish your 360 video.
The modern, higher end 360 cameras generally capture colour quite vibrantly, but if you’re using an entry-level to mid-tier 360 camera, your video may benefit from some colour correction to enhance the look. This may particularly be true if you’re shooting at less than 5K resolution or shot a scene with challenging lighting conditions. There are a few basic adjustments you can make that can lead to a big improvement. Each program will tackle colour correction a bit differently and some may offer automatic adjustment options, but in general:
- Try giving the overall saturation a little boost to bring out the vibrancy and intensity of the colours in the scene.
- Adjust the contrast and brightness of your video to help mitigate shadowing, dark spots or to better define particular objects.
- Adjust the colour temperature and hues with the colour wheel to help make the scene richly coloured but also natural looking. Pay special attention to the colour tones of people’s faces or tree leaves so that you’re not taking the colour adjustments to extreme levels (unless that’s part of the idea).
- Your program may offer you colour gradient effects, like lens filters, which can be used to add some pop and pizzazz to your video.
- If you’re editing together multiple scenes shot in the same location, copy and save the colour correction settings to apply them to the other shots.
Most editing programs should offer you a method to sharpen your video. Again, this could be especially useful if you shot the video at a lower resolution. It just helps to add a bit more definition to your shot and helps details look a bit clearer and cleaner. Gradually increase the sharpening values until you reach that balance between well-defined and over-processed.
Working with 360 cameras can be tricky at the best of times, and things like extreme lighting, flickering light sources and movement can contribute to blurring, graininess and what’s generally referred to as “noise” in the video. Denoising the video means to reduce some of these issues. If your video editor has a denoise feature, this could be a very useful fix.
Editing using proxies
Editing 360 files is an enormous drain on your computer and can cause your editing programs to sputter and freeze, especially if you’re working in a standard computer and not one with the pumped up processing power needed for gaming. One helpful tip would be to create proxies to edit with, which are essentially lower-quality versions of your high-quality footage. This reduces lag and the demands on your processing resources. If your editing program allows you to do this, we highly recommend you edit this way, particularly if your video involves cutting together multiple scenes. You should be able to find directions in your software’s FAQ resources; we’ve linked to a few here for some of the more popular programs.
Orienting your shot perspective
While an important aspect of 360 video is giving the viewer the choice to look where they wish to, something you may want to do as a 360 video producer is set your video to a particular starting orientation. We always recommend that when you’re shooting 360 video, try to imagine the camera is your audience member and you’re positioning the camera in a specific way so that the first thing they see is what you want them to see. But if you need to adjust the shot orientation in post-production, some editing programs will allow you to shift the direction (i.e. the audience’s point-of-view) of where the video starts. Each program handles it a bit differently, so we’ve linked to their FAQ resources.
Adobe Premiere Pro (360-degree panning)
Final Cut Pro (re-orienting the perspective)
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate (Rotate video)
Some filmmakers prefer to remove any evidence of there being a monopod to help with the immersive feeling while others may opt to leave it in. There are a few different techniques you could use to mask or hide the monopod in your video, although most of them are a bit tricky and may require the combined use of a few different programs.
The most straightforward method to hide the monopod is to use a nadir logo. The nadir refers to the direction directly below someone or something – in this case, straight below the 360 camera. Most 360 camera softwares will give you an option to display a nadir logo. Sometimes this logo is a company logo, but often you can choose a colour (i.e. black or grey) and adjust the size of the circle. While it doesn’t look seamless, the use of the logo can effectively hide the monopod. Some programs allow you to upload your own graphic to use as the nadir image so if you were able to screen capture part of the scene or replicate the colours with another photo editing program (like Adobe Photoshop or Pixlr), that could certainly work.
ADOBE AFTER EFFECTS
If you have access to Adobe After Effects, they have a great tutorial on how to remove the monopod from your video and make it look totally seamless.
360 video expert and blogger Mike Ty also has an excellent tutorial on additional methods of removing monopods on his website.
- Most smartphone-based editing apps can handle some light trimming and adjustments, but you’ll need to have a capable computer to handle heavier production.
- If you’re able to use proxies while editing, that can save you lots of time.
- A few straightforward adjustments can make a big difference to the quality of your 360 video – look to tweak the sharpness, colour and noise.