360-degree photos and videos are spherical, panoramic shots of a scene from multiple angles for a great visual effect of depth and immersion. There is a lot to explore in the world of 360, but it is possible to pick up on the learning curve if you do your research and find out what works best for you. If you are interested in producing or viewing 360 content, you should learn more about accessories, filming equipment, and software needed to create it. You should also study up on the various uses for 360, spherical photos and videos. Some great uses for 360 video and/or photos are action clips, tutorials, films, or whatever you can think of.
If you ever plan on filming 360 content, it’s good to know the basics about the equipment you will need and which brands are the best. Have these tools in your inventory to capture the best 360 photos and videos:
- One or more high-resolution 360-degree cameras.
- Panoramic head or spherical rig to hold several cameras
360-degree cameras such as GoPros, AllieCam, DSLRs, and many other cameras will do the job. Purchase a panoramic head from Nodal Ninja, B&H Photo and Video, or Amazon. You can craft your own panoramic head, just make sure that it is measured to the correct nodal point of your camera, GoPro and 360Heros offer spherical rigs for GoPro cameras.
After shooting, edit and put all of your photos together so they form a smooth 360-degree panorama. Make sure you have the following:
- Stitching software
- Platform to upload and watch your video
Available stitching software includes PTGui, Kolor Autopano Video, and Freedom 360. Being able to fix those little spots you should make sure you have a good editing program. I recommend Adobe Premiere Pro or Adobe Lightroom. The last item you will need is a way to view your 360-degree creation, Oculus Gear VR is a great option.
How and Where to Watch 360 Content
You can stream and download 360 content online through your laptop or phone. If you’re watching on your phone you have the option to watch gear-free, i.e. just your eyes and your phone or you can watch with the help of a 360 video viewer such as Google Cardboard, which comes paired with 3D lenses to enjoy the depth of the video. You can also watch 360 videos on virtual reality headsets although they work best with actual VR videos. I’ve found some cool 360 videos on YouTube and Facebook and you can watch them for free, including 360 music videos, movie trailers, short films, and 360 vlogs. Some other great apps are Oculus Virtual Reality, Making View, VR Player, and other platforms offered by major VR headgear designers.