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One of the goals of 360° videos is to transport viewers to distant places and convey a convincing feeling of ‘being there’. For this feeling of presence, the viewers’ immersion needs to be seamless and uninterrupted. To achieve such a truly convincing experience, requires high-quality 360 VR videos. Creating such videos, involves dedication, vision, and meticulous attention to technical details. 

The most critical aspects to consider include:

  • Avoiding the visibility of seamlines where the footage of multiple cameras overlap
  • Stability of the footage by preventing shake 
  • Avoidance of capturing the videographer within the shot
  • Comprehensive post-production, including
    • Digital de-noising of footage
    • AI video improvements
    • Sound Design
    • Consistent colour grading

Mastering these elements is crucial for creating high-quality content that immerses viewers in another world without distractions or discomfort. 

This article examines these key factors in detail, offering insights into how we produce our 360 VR videos for immersive experiences that can be used for various applications, including therapeutic treatment, meditation, stress reduction, and travel experiences.

Avoiding the Visibility of Seamlines

Achieving a seamless 360 video experience requires meticulous attention to avoide visible seamlines, which are often the result of overlapping footage from multiple cameras. Key strategies include carefully considering the shooting environment to already minimize complex overlaps during the filming stage and the use of advanced stitching software to merge all individual videos into one spherical 360° video. 

For this, manual stitching techniques refine the final output, addressing any residual seamline through detailed correction work. These efforts are crucial in preserving the immersive quality of 360 videos, allowing viewers to engage fully with the content without distraction, like in our Slovenia Sphaere VR Experience, seen below.

The importance of stability in 360º VR videos

Producing stable footage is a fundamental aspect when creating immersive 360 videos for VR.  Camera shake in 360-degree virtual reality videos has significant effects beyond mere distraction.

Shake in 360º VR experiences

Unlike traditional videos, where slight movements can sometimes go unnoticed or even add to the dynamism of a scene, camera shake in 360º videos can be profoundly disorienting for the viewer and can lead to motion sickness, headaches and eye-strain. 

This reaction occurs due to the discrepancy between the motion perceived by the eyes and the lack of corresponding motion felt by the body (the balance system in our ears, to be precise). Stabilizing 360 VR videos is therefore crucial not just for aesthetic purposes but also for viewer comfort and safety.

Strategies for Stabilization

To combat shake and ensure a smooth viewing experience, we at Atmosphaeres employ several strategies:

  • Best practices during shooting: sometimes, the best way to avoid camera shake is to use careful shooting techniques. At Atmosphaeres, we want our viewers to have the best and most enjoyable VR experience, so we only shoot static footage on solid tripods. This is the best way to ensure a comfortable experience for the target audience in the health and wellness sector. 
  • Stabilizing software: should a shot still be shaky, which can sometimes happen in very windy situations or on e.g. swaying wooden jettys or bridges, digital stabilization is required. Many traditional video editing suites include stabilization features that can smooth out general shakes, however, these in-built stabilisers are often optimised for traditional 16:9 footage. For 360 videos this otherwise standard task is more complicated and very specialised software is required and used by us to deal with the unique shake of 360 degree cameras.
  • Use of gimbals and stabilizers: other companies that create moving content also use gimbals and stabilizers with special motors to balance the camera, keeping it steady even when the operator or the mounting platform moves.

By using the right equipment, software, and techniques, our goal is ensuring viewers can fully engage with the content without distraction or discomfort.

Keeping the videographer out of the shot of 360º videos

360-degree cameras capture everything around them, making it all too easy for the videographer to end up in the final product, which you can often recognise by looking for a person who is standing or sitting near the camera and casually looks at their phones or tries (and often fails) to look relaxed. The unintended appearance of the camera operator can dramatically disrupt the immersive experience, reminding viewers of the artificiality of the video and breaking the spell of being transported to another world.

At Atmosphaeres we know firsthand how difficult it is to ensure the videographer and their equipment do not become part of the scene so we already look for a good hiding spot or an area that can later be patched, prior to filming. In the photo series below you can see the videographer (me) lying on the ground and avoiding putting my feet into the shadow of the jetty pole because this allows for much easier patching later on. More info about solutions and techniques we use to avoid or remove us from our videos are listed below.

 

the process of keeping the videographer out of the shot of 360º videos

The process of keeping the videographer out of the shot of 360º videos, removal in post-production and the end result after denoising and colour grading.

 

Creative solutions and techniques

There are several strategies and creative solutions that videographers can use to keep themselves and their equipment out of the shot:

  • Remote monitoring and control: by using remote controls and monitoring systems, videographers can start and stop recordings from a distance. This allows them to position the camera in the desired location and then move out of the scene before recording begins. This is the ideal scenario but sadly, it is rarely possible.
  • Careful positioning and planning: planning shots meticulously can help in minimizing the risk of accidentally capturing the videographer. This might involve using natural features of the environment or architectural elements to hide the camera operator or strategically placing the camera where the operator can remain hidden or easily patched later.
  • Post-production editing: techniques such as cloning parts of the image, using patches, or creatively integrating graphics can effectively erase unwanted presences from the final video.
  • Innovative camera mounting solutions: utilizing drones, boom poles, or other mounting solutions that can extend the camera away from the operator can also help in keeping the videographer out of the scene. 
    • NOTE: We do not use these techniques at Atmosphaeres because height and movement, mostly found in drone shots, make people dizzy – as mentioned in the stability section.

By employing a combination of technology, careful planning, and creative post-production techniques, we can overcome the challenge of camera shake and thus, ensure that viewers remain fully immersed in the VR experience.

Comprehensive Post-Production

Comprehensive post-production is essential to elevate the quality of 360ª videos to deliver an immersive VR experience. This multifaceted process encompasses color correction and grading for visual consistency, the integration of high-quality audio for enhanced immersion, and the careful usage of de-noising and AI video improvement software all help to craft a 360 video that is convincing and does not break the illusion of reality.

Quality assurance and optimization for various platforms ensure that the video maintains its integrity across different viewing environments. This thorough post-production phase not only addresses technical aspects but also significantly enhances the viewer’s emotional and immersive engagement with the content.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the creation of high-quality 360º videos for VR is a meticulous process that requires careful attention to detail and a deep understanding of the unique challenges. 

At Atmosphaeres we invite both creators and enthusiasts alike to delve deeper into the world of 360 VR video production. Explore the vast potential it holds for therapy, storytelling and education. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible and continually striving for higher quality, the future of 360 videos for VR promises to be as limitless as our imagination.

If you want to learn more about 360 VR videos check out other articles on our blog where we cover a variety of topics on the current state of the 360 Virtual Reality landscape.

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About the Author

Dr. Eric Fassbender holds a PhD in Virtual Reality and since 2013 he and his wife Susanne Fassbender have created a large catalogue of 360° Videos and VR Experiences that have been used successfully in numerous scientific research studies.

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