Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read our blog post on 360 Video and Nonprofits: Is it Right for You? to answer the three questions that must be asked before producing a 360 video. Now that you’ve decided to make the jump, let’s walk through a few best practices in 360 video production.
1. Have a goal in mind
This may be obvious. In fact it probably is. But still. Please, please, please have a clear goal in mind for your 360 video. How do you want your viewers to feel? How will you know if it’s successful? What do you want viewers to do as a result of this video? And how can you track that?
Goals provide guideposts to measure return on investment, as well as keeping production on track.
2. Choose the right kind of 360 video
There are two different kinds of 360 videos:
- Monoscopic video. As a ‘flatter’ version, this is the most common kind of 360 video which is used in most (but not all) YouTube 360 videos. This is also the same experience as what you see in Google Street View.
- Stereoscopic video. Not as common, but provides for a more interesting and much higher quality video. It works by stitching together a 3D rendering of an environment and then outputting a very rich 360 rendering. As you might guess, these are more expensive.
How to know which one is right for you? Read this to make the right call.
3. Consider where viewers are looking (or where they should be looking)
Some 360 videos don’t necessarily direct viewers down a particular path, but instead leave them to visually explore the environment on their own. Others provides a more directed experience, with visual cues and camera movement. Each bring value, so it’s just a matter of deciding which makes the most sense for you.
If you do decide to provide a more directed experience, be sure to include visual cues in the video to orient your viewer’s gaze. Remember, you have no control over where they’re looking, so you need to pave the way.
4. Keep that camera still!
Cloverfield-style shaky cam does not work in 360 video. Viewers are already immersed and may already be facing fatigue, so adding camera instability to the equation can completely break the experience.
Camera stabilization can be handled through the use of tripods or camera mounts. They will make a world of difference!
5. Don’t expect 4k quality
One of the current limitations of this technology is the level of quality. 360 videos are blurry. Sort of like YouTube videos from the early 2000s. You’ll want to therefore plan accordingly when designing your shots, and be sure you:
- Don’t require viewers to read small text
- Don’t develop super detail-oriented shots
- Don’t rely on facial expressions at a distance
The video’s quality will also decrease when you export it into a format you can post online. This is much more critical than it seems so, again, be prepared and plan accordingly.
6. Figure out where to put your crew and equipment
It’s in the name, right? 360 video. This means there’s nowhere to hide your stuff. Depending on the scenes you’ve chosen for your video, you may not need to hide the crew, but rather make sure they are not invasive to the shot. This also means you’ll need to get very creative with lighting, or instead rely on ambient light (which can also be problematic because of output quality).
I strongly recommend reading up on best practices from the leaders in the 360 video field. Here are a few below to get you started.
- Facebook’s 360 video guidelines
- Tips and tricks from Filmora
- Shooting 360, from Wired Magazine
- 3 Big Tips from Google
And again, from our previous post, here are a few neat examples of organizations using 360 video:
- Exploring Seoul, South Korea at night (Government of Seoul, South Korea)
- Learning why toilets are a big deal (Bill Gates)
- Experiencing a total solar eclipse (Stargate Media)
- Understanding how LGBTQ youth face homelessness (Ali Forney Center)
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