Not so long ago, Vimeo launched 360 video support — and members of our production team (hi there!) created our first-ever 360 video. And if you watched our behind the scenes of how it all came together, then you also heard me say that post-production was a “beast.”
I was not kidding.
Post-production for the Vimeo 360 video took me and Niko, my fellow producer and Vimean, a few weeks to complete. The most challenging part of the process? Figuring out how to stitch the files. Soon after returning to Vimeo HQ with terabytes of footage, we realized that there weren’t many resources available — just online software manuals with hints scattered about.
Presently, there’s no way to avoid stitch lines. There are things you can do (and not do) during your shoot to minimize them. But technology hasn’t progressed far enough for cameras and rigs to shoot seamlessly in 360 degrees.
So how do you go about stitching, and stitching well? Since different cameras lead to different workflows, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But this was our workflow for the Nokia Ozo, good for fellow Ozo users or anyone curious about the world of 360 post-production.
First, you’ll need to download two different softwares.
While both are free, Jaunt requires you to create an account. And you’ll need the serial number of the Ozo camera used to shoot your video.
Next up is rough stitching.
The Nokia Ozo comes with great software called Ozo Creator. It’s relatively easy to use, and you can actually create a rough edit right in the program. (I highly recommend doing this, as it’ll save you from having to export low resolution files to make a rough edit in Premiere.)
Once you’ve reviewed your footage and chosen selects, you’ll need to adjust the seams for each. Rule of thumb: move them away from where you have actors or action happening, if possible. This provides the software the best possible chance of properly aligning the separate camera files. If not, keep the seam spread wide, and hopefully the fine-stitching software will find the best way to piece it all together.
Next, queue your files and select the settings for High Quality Stitched MP4s
Go ahead and export. Depending on how many files you’re exporting and how long they are, this may take a good chunk of time. When they’re done, each shot will have its own folder with eight MP4s and one audio file.
Now it’s time for fine stitching.
After exporting files from Ozo, we used the Jaunt Cloud service for fine stitching. Jaunt offers two minutes of high quality outputs for free when you first sign up. But it’s pricey after that (more on that shortly). Unlike Ozo Creator, the interface for Jaunt Media Manager is a bit more puzzling. But they provide a set of instructions for importing and uploading your files to help.
Your files should now be in the Cloud, which you can access by using the Jaunt website.
Video files are collected into projects, so your files should be easy to locate. Click into a video to set in and out points. This is incredibly important because you only have two free minutes. After that, it’s $2000 for every 15 minutes. And you have to buy time in packages before you can render. Setting precise in and out points will save you from shelling out money for useless frames.
I highly recommend rendering previews before you run the fine stitch. To do this, select “Start” to the left of the Previews. After it’s done processing, you’ll be able to watch previews of that clip on the screen or in your headset.
If everything looks good, go ahead and press start on “High Quality videos.” When they’re ready (with a MacPro with 64GB RAM, it took around 45 minutes per two-minute clip) you will see several options for download. I recommend downloading the two different versions of the monoscopic or stereoscopic (we used mono). Jaunt creates two different stitched versions in order to get you the best rendering.
Jaunt Cloud, like most things in life, isn’t perfect. We had placed the table too close to the Nokia Ozo and it created a glitch across the bottom of our shots. If people or items pass through the stitch lines, you will most likely have some odd-looking frames. Until the technology catches up to what we’re trying to do with it, the only way to get rid of these errors is to create and replace plates or manually paint them out. It’s very time consuming and not always worth it, in my opinion.
But all in all, it’s pretty thrilling to be shooting and editing as 360 video — and the software associated with it — develop further By following these steps, you’ll have stitched video files you can now bring into Premiere Pro or After Effects to create your final piece.
Like I said before, stitching is not an easy process. Niko and I went through a lot of trial and error before we had nicely stitched files in our hands. But once you get through the workflow once, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro stitcher for your next 360 video. And if you’ve got any stitching tips to share, do comment below!