Post-Producing 360/Spherical Timelapse Videos – A Primer
Here’s a quick drill-down of things we do regularly when putting together a 360 timelapse for the web. It’s not written in stone, nor is it comprehensive, but the following list is an aggregate of various bits of info you may end up seeking out, so we put it all together to help you get going.
Take pics with your 360 camera (this workflow only addresses integrated 360 cams. Stitching, lighting and capture is outside the scope of this article.)
- YouTube likes 3840×2160 for 4K spherical video, so who are we to argue?
- Set your composition (After Effects or Premiere or Vegas or what have you) to these dimensions.
- Put all the numbered images from your timelapse sequence on their own into a dedicated folder.
- Go to File>Import>Image or JPEG Sequence. – Choose the first image in the folder and click OK.
- In After Effects > Right-Click the newly important image sequence and choose Interpret Footage->Main
- For a more cinematic look, set the frame rate to 23.976 (24P).
- Now drag it onto your timeline.
- If you are in Premiere, edit etc and export when ready. If you are in After Effects (and to get the smooth effect from the videos below,) go to step 9
- In After Effects, right-click the clip on the timeline and choose Transform->Center In View, and then right click again and choose Transform->Fit to Comp
- Right click again and choose Frame Blending->Frame Mix (don’t forget to click the Frame Blending for All Layers icon on the top left of the timeline window!). For a silkier effect, choose the “CC Wide Time” plugin. You can check the Native Motion Blur box and leave the rest as is (or experiment!)
- Color correct, etc – note: if you add titles, they will need to be much smaller than you’d think for viewing in an HMD (head-mounted display)
- File->Export (make sure to match project settings, but export as H.264 file, and Maximum Render Depth)
- After the video is rendered, make sure to download Google’s Metadata Injection App for 360 uploads – Win | Mac -> install and run it. Click ‘Open,’ find your rendered file and then click Inject.
- Upload the injected file to YouTube, VRideo, Facebook etc. Note on YouTube, the video won’t be in 360 right away. Give it 10-20 minutes and voila, it will now work as a 360 upload.
Here is an example of final output (PLEASE set playback resolution as high as possible, ideally 4k if avail on your playback device):
These examples were shot with a Ricoh Theta S. The camera has 4K stills, so we like to experiment with various intervals settings for timelapse and then smooth it out in post. The Ricoh does shoot 1080p, but it looks awful. 4K stills, though show promise, but we continue to experiment.
The camera IS great for previsualization of larger projects, however, especially for planning out shots and choreography.
This is a very basic workflow, but we’d love to have your comments to expand on the above.