Technical Guide to Producing 360 Media

Explore the equipment and apps needed to produce 360 videos and photos.

Getting Started

360-degree is a media form that captures in every direction at once — up, down, and all around. This is possible with a number of different special cameras that shoot in all directions. Videos can be viewed in a browser by using a mouse to change the viewing perspective (see video below). But, the best experience is to view 360° video in a virtual reality headset, where the user is able to literally “look around” the scene by moving your head around. It’s an incredible, immersive experience, as if you were dropped into someone else’s shoes to see their perspective.

Capturing 360° Photos

There are several options for taking 360° photos. There are several 360 cameras and camera attachments available. If you do not have access to a camera you can capture 360° photos with just your smartphone using the Google Streetview App

About 360° Video Production Equipment

From a production  perspective, 360 video brings up all kinds of new challenges and opportunities — for example, the concept of “behind the camera” no longer exists!

Below is a good set of tools for capturing 360 video (see above for capturing 360 images using free tools on a smartphone):

  • A 360° camera: These cameras capture videos and photos in 360 degrees. They use two or more lenses to capture the whole scene (up, down, all around) and then stitch the images together into a sphere. Many consumer cameras come with mobile or desktop software that will stitch the images together automatically. Also, many cameras include an internal microphone that will capture ambient sound.

    • Ricoh Theta S: The Ricoh Theta S camera is a simple consumer 360 camera that captures 360 photos and video. It can be controlled manually or by using an app on the Samsung S6 phone. The camera also includes an internal microphone that will capture ambient sound.

    • There are other prosumer cameras you can use like the Samsung Gear 360 and the LG 360 CAM Spherical. Both use two lenses that film simultaneously and are easy to stitch the images together. If you want the best quality and have money to spend you can utilize multiple GoPro cameras which would require syncing and stitching the footage together.

  • A VR headset: The headset is what you use to watch 360° video and virtual reality in an immersive environment. Some headsets require so much processing power that they must be connected to a computer, but many are relatively cheap because they operate using a smartphone and app.

    • Samsung Gear VR headset and S6 phone: The Gear VR is a consumer virtual reality headset that allows users to view virtual reality content using the Samsung S6 phone. The phone uses an Oculus app to power the headset.

  • Editing software: Though it’s possible to create a short 360° video without using editing software, you will likely find it useful for more complex productions. The products are changing all the time in their ability and ease of use for 360° video editing. Don’t assume the video software you already have will edit 360° video — try it out and do a little research into other products.

    • Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Premiere Elements: Both programs can edit 360 videos. Premiere Pro is a part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Premiere Elements is ideal for education settings. Only Pro has a built in metadata injector which basically tells the system your video is a 360 video. With Elements you need a separate program to inject the metadata (see below under Applications Needed & How to Install Them) Here is an article outlining the other differences between Elements and Pro.

    • Final Cut Pro: Another professional editing program similar to Adobe Premiere Pro that can be used to make 360 videos.

    • DaVinci Resolve: Pro: it’s free! Con: there are more steps needed to export your video. The program exports only in .mov and you need to convert your video file to the .mp4 file type that the Samsung Gear VR will recognize. This article will show you how.

    • iMovie is not able to seamlessly edit 360 videos.

  • A tripod or monopod with feet: A tripod is extremely helpful for avoiding unnecessary movements. Your 360° camera will capture everything, so you don’t need to pan or tilt the camera, and there is no “behind the camera” so anyone holding the camera steady will appear in the shot! You want a pod that a small footprint so it will not be visible when you look down but also sturdy enough so it doesn’t fall over. 

How to set up the Samsung S6 or S7 phone

  1. Turn on the phone

  2. Connect the phone to WiFi

  3. Hit “Next”

  4. Under Terms and Conditions” hit “Next”

  5. Under “Tap & Go” hit “Skip”

  6. Add a Google Account to the phone OR hit “Skip” (We suggest creating a dummy Google account so you can download apps later on while not giving students access to your personal Google account.)

  7. Confirm the Date & Time are correct and hit “Next”

  8. Add a name to your phone. Suggestion: First Name = School Name, Last Name = 360 Challenge

  9. Under Google Services hit “Next”

  10. Under Samsung Account hit “Skip”

  11. Under Email accounts hit “Next”

  12. Under Set wake-up command hit “Later”

  13. Under Add fingerprint hit “Later”

  14. Now you should be able to access the phone

How to set up the Samsung Gear VR Headset

If you are using the Samsung Gear VR and S6 Phone, first, make sure the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Fit the phone into the Gear VR with its screen facing the inside of the headset. There is a micro USB on the headset that should fit into the phone. Here are the steps:

  1. Insert the phone into the Gear VR headset with its screen facing the inside of the headset. There is a micro USB on the headset that should fit into the phone. It will tell you to remove the phone from the headset to download software. Do so.

  2. On the phone will be the Gear VR setup screen. Click “Next” and the app will begin downloading

  3. Once downloaded, “Agree” to the health and safety warning and hit “Next”

  4. Under Gear VR setup wizard hit “Install”

  5. Once all 8 apps have been installed a screen resolution screen will open. Move the indicator to “WQHD” and hit “Next”

  6. The Oculus screen will appear and ask you to sign in. At the bottom hit “Create Account”

  7. Enter a valid email address that you have access to and add a password specific to this account.

  8. Create an Oculus 4 digit pin

  9. Go to your email account, locate an email from Oculus and verify your account

  10. Under Add Payment method hit “I don’t have a payment method.”

  11. Reinsert the phone in the headset and follow the training and safety prompts.

Helpful links / More info:

  • Video tutorial demonstrating Gear VR and Samsung phone setup: Video tutorial

Having trouble?

  • Ensure the phone is connected to wi-fi.

  • Check if the phone needs any software updates.

Once you have followed these steps, you're ready to start exploring! Some apps will be pre-loaded for use in the Gear VR, and others can be downloaded from the Oculus Store (many are free). You can access the Store in two ways: using only the phone by opening the Oculus app, or using the headset by navigating to the Store from Oculus Home.

Next, you'll want to explore using the Gear VR to watch 360 content, and learn how to use the camera to capture 360 photos and videos. Check out the 360 Filmmakers Code of Conduct for Gear VR Users for some basic guidelines for viewing 360 video using a headset and then have fun Exploring 360 Video. Remember to  download the Oculus Video app from the Gear VR store under “Free Apps”. This app will allow you to watch any videos you save in the phone’s directory. The icon looks like this:

hqdefault.jpg

Applications Needed & How to Install Them

On the phone

  • Download the Samsung Gear VR app

    • You can start the download process by inserting the phone into the headset and following the prompts

    • This will only happen the first time you insert the phone into the headset

  • Download the Ricoh Theta app from the Play Store

    • Used to connect the camera to the phone to see what the camera sees and view footage after filming

In the Samsung Gear VR app

  • Download the Oculus Video app from the Gear VR store under “Free Apps”

    • Used to view the videos that you download onto the phone

On the computer

  • Download the Ricoh Theta app  

    • Used to stitch the camera footage together into one editable 360 image

  • Download the Android File Transfer app

    • Mac Users only. PC users need only connect the camera to the computer and the computer will open the phone’s file directory

    • Used to transfer files to and from the Android phone

  • Download Metadata Injector app (Mac) or (Windows)

    • Used to infuse the video with data that tells the phone that it is a 360 video

    • If you are editing with Adobe Premiere Pro then you do not need this app. It is included in the export settings within the program.)

  • Download Editing Software

    • Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Premiere Elements, Final Cut Pro, etc.

How to use the Ricoh Theta S

The Ricoh Theta camera works by capturing images using two fish-eye lenses. When these images are uploaded into the Theta app on either a smartphone or on a computer, the app "stitches” the two images together to create a coherent, single 360-degree image.

The camera can capture photos and videos simply by pressing the single button on the camera's body. (A side button toggles between still images and video.) To view the photos and videos you capture, you'll need to download the Ricoh Theta S app on the Samsung phone's Google Play store.

You can also manipulate the camera remotely using the Samsung phone, once the app is downloaded. Instructions for this can also be found in the links above.

How to review your footage while filming

You can view the photos and video you've taken using the phone, before you even download them to a computer. Follow these steps to use the phone to view photos and videos you've taken.

  1. Download and open the Ricoh Theta S app on the phone from the Google Play Store

  2. Make sure the wifi is enabled on the Theta camera (wifi symbol will light up blue). To connect the camera to the phone the first time, you'll need to use the phone's Wi-Fi settings and the camera serial number (on the bottom of the camera) to connect. Here are the instructions.  Once you connect the camera and phone the first time, all you'll need to do to connect them in the future is turn on the phone's Wi-Fi and swipe down in the Theta app.

  3. When the camera is connected, tap "Camera” on the app to see existing photos and videos on the camera.

  4. Tap the photo or video you want to view, and let it load from the camera to the phone.

  5. When it is done loading, open the photo or video. Swipe around to view the footage.

How to manage footage workflow from Camera to Phone to Computer

  1. Film footage with the Theta 360 camera.

  2. Connect the camera to the phone via Wifi.

  3. Transfer all of the footage from the camera to the phone.

  4. Watch the footage on the phone while in production to confirm the performance you seek has been captured.

  5. Connect the phone to the computer (Mac users do not use iPhoto as iPhoto converts the footage to unusable .m4v files)

  6. Open the phone’s Android file directory on the computer (Mac users: use the Android File Transfer App) and locate the Theta footage.

  7. Transfer all footage from the phone to the computer.

  8. Open the Theta app on the computer.

  9. Drag footage to the Theta app (which presents as a grey box).  The app will "stitch" the images captured by the two fish-eye lenses so that they are one whole sphere.

  10. Import new stitched version of the footage into Adobe Premiere or Final Cut to edit OR transfer it back to the phone to watch unedited footage in the headset.

How to mirror from a headset to a screen or monitor

There are several options for mirroring, including Chromecast for Gear VR. You can share Gear VR experiences directly from the headset by streaming to your TV in real-time.  You will need the latest version of both the Oculus mobile app and Android. Read more on the Oculus website.

Tips

  • When exporting your film to watch in the headset, make sure the file title includes “_360” (that’s an underscore) in it. For example “My Film_360.mp4” will work. Adding “_360” to the title allows the phone and headset recognize your film as a 360 film - otherwise it will play it in a box like a regular film.

  • Do not delete any footage from the phone or camera until you confirm that you have a .mp4 version of the footage on your computer and it is backed up on a hard drive or flash drive.