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360 Basics: How to Stitch With Autopano Video Pro

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In this tutorial you will learn the basics of how to use Kolor Autopano Video Pro to stitch together footage for 360 videos. We go through the entire process from start to finish, along with a few extra tips to add 360 video metadata to your footage so it can be played back in 360° video players online, like on YouTube. If you are not familiar with 360 videos, this lesson can also act as an introduction to the workflow of 360 videos.

 

In This Video Tutorial

  1. You'll learn how to import your footage into Autopano Video Pro (0:41)
  2. I'll show you how to synchronize your clips so they are all aligned perfectly (1:15)
  3. Then you'll learn how to stitch your clips together (2:25)
  4. Then you'll reorient the horizon (3:10)
  5. And set a starting point (4:54)
  6. We'll take a look at the stabilization features (5:25)
  7. And color correction features (6:20)
  8. You'll learn how to decide which blending mode work best for a given type of footage (8:08)
  9. Then we will cover how to adjust and fine tune settings (8:38)
  10. Then you'll learn how to export your video (9:53)
  11. Finally, I'll show you how to add 360 metadata to your video and make it ready for upload (11:44)

What You Need

In order to follow along with this lesson you will need Kolor Autopano Video Pro along with some footage shot on a 360 camera setup. You can download a trial version of Kolor Autopano Video Pro to follow along. I'll also show you some addition steps using the Google 360 Video Metadata App and Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.3, but these are not required.

1. Import and Prepare Your Footage

Once you launch Autopano Video Pro, the first option you see is to drag and drop your videos into the project. You can use any type of camera setup, as Autopano will work with just about any rig, but make sure you import all the clips. Once you've dropped in all of your clips you can see each one of them in the preview panel. 

Import your clips into Autopano Video Pro

2. Synchronize and Stitch

With advanced camera rigs, like the GoPro Omni, all the cameras start in sync. You may be using a camera setup that has multiple separate cameras that aren't in sync.

There are two methods we can use to synchronize our footage: audio synchronization and motion synchronization. Now, if your camera is on something is moving, it might be better to use the motion synchronization, but when all the cameras are locked down on a tripod, as in our example, audio synchronization works well.

Head up to the synchronization tab and select the method that's best for your footage. Start with a search range of 10 seconds: the default.

In our example, we ended up with two different clips off by one millisecond. That's not even a full frame worth, so we didn't have to worry about adjusting the nearest frame. If you need to you can adjust any of your footage using the nearest frame tools.

The next step is to stitch your footage. Click on the Stitch tab, and find the camera pre-sets. Select you camera and click the Stitch button. Autopano Video Pro will now run through and stitch all the clips together and output an equirectangular image. 

Oops thats not right

3. Fine-Tune the Horizon Line

It's very common at this stage to get an image that's pretty wonky looking. You'll usually need to make some fine-tuning adjustments. Just click and drag to adjust the orientation of your equirectangular image.

One thing to note with our example: it was an outdoor shot, on a hillside, with no real horizon line to look at. Making shots is a lot easier when you can see the horizon, but that's not always possible. However, you can look for something else: a straight vertical edge. Put the straight edge in the center of your frame, this will help gauge your equirectangular video and get everything lined up. The trees were a good vertical line in our example.

Set a starting point for your viewers

4. Set a Starting Point

You need to set a default field of view for you viewers when they start up a 360 video. In our example, that was where the bikers were going come through from the trees. The reason you want the primary action in the center of the screen at the start of a 360 video is because the viewer will be looking all around once the video starts. You want to immediately direct their attention by already having them oriented towards the action.

The best way to focus your viewer is to move the primary action area to the center of the screen (the direct center of the 360 video is facing forward for the viewer when they start watching). If the point of interest was too far towards the edges, this would force the viewer to 'wander' too much, looking left or right to find the action. Reorienting the 360 video so that the action is in the center of the frame is easy: go to the beginning, then just click and drag on the preview, the same as you do to fix the horizon line.

5. Preliminary Render

At the bottom your clip there are four different timelines. We have the horizon, the stitch, color, and mask and this so we can make adjustments to each one of these independently of the other. When you finish adjusting everything and are happy with your video, go ahead and click Apply.

At the top of your video are red and purple bars. The red indicator indicates the render in and out. Purple is the current selection. If you just want to do adjustments on certain sections of the video, you can adjust that with these red and purple indicators.

After you've rendered, go ahead and make the video full-screen. Take a closer look and make sure everything is right.

Rendering in Autopano video pro

6. Global Corrections

All right, that's the basic process, but in most cases your video is going to need a little bit more correction and adjustment to make it perfect.

Stabilization

Our next tab is Stabilization. We're going to save the deep dive for another day, but here are the basics of what goes into it:

Click on Stabilization. If your shot is locked down on a tripod, like our example,  you don't really need to do any stabilization to it. But if you have a moving shot and you want to use stabilization you can adjust the compensation level here. What this will do is apply to your selection (anywhere the purple indicator is). So if you need to process your entire video,  make sure the selection is stretching the entire time line.

For in the compensation level, you can adjusted different points.  At about 50% it'll remove any fast jarring motions of your camera but still let the video be dynamic, and responsive to any panning throughout the video. If you want your video to be basically motionless and kind of locked down you can move it all away to 100%. Click on compute stabilization to start the process.

Picture Correction

Next up is the Color tab. Now with 360 video, because we have so many different cameras and they're facing in so many different directions, it's easy to have exposure issues and color issues. One of the best things about Autopano Video Pro is it's going to help automatically adjust and iron out any problems that you might have.

Correction types that are checked by default are the exposure, vignetting and the colorWhite Balance is another common issue that you'll often have adjust for. Start with the three defaults, and click Apply. And Autopano Video Pro will go ahead and automatically apply those corrections to your footage.

7. Fine Tune the Picture

Now that a basic correction has been applied you can make a fine-tune correction. We'll cover these in detail in our next tutorials, but here's an overview:

Lighting Changes

If your camera is moving, for example traveling through this underbrush as in our example, you're prone to get lots of different light changes. Likewise if you're going from outdoors to indoors. You can do an autotransition: Autopano will compute the color correction every five seconds, or 300 frames, or whatever you set it to, up here, which is very handy.

Click on compute automatic color correction. This will run through and automatically correct for any color changes throughout your 360 video. We also have access to the exposure compensation, so you can also adjust this if I need to make it darker or brighter.

One feature I find really cool is that we get nice little indicators at the bottoms and top to show us where the clipping in our footage is happening.

Blend

360 video uses multiple videos overlapped to make a composite. There are basically two types of blending to make that overlap: sharp blending and smooth blending.

With sharp, it's more of an abrupt cut off between each camera. If your footage is locked down on a tripod, like we have in our example, you may want to use the sharp blending. If you have a lot of motion in your video you may want to go with the smooth blending setting. You can also adjust the blend in the Advanced Settings.

8. Final Render and Export

Alright, time  to render out your final video. Click on the Render tab to bring up the various rendering options:

  • Autopano Video Pro will give you the width and the height, but it'll also give you the maximum size allowed with your output.
  • Leave the output type on the default mp4: that's pretty much the most common 360 video format right now.
  • For a preset, choose H.264 4K.
  • For the frames per second, leave it on whatever your footage was recorded at.
  • For video bit rate the default is 24,000 kilobits per second. YouTube actually recommends anywhere between 50,000 and 150,000 kilobits per seconds.
  • For audio bit rate, set it at 320.
  • For aspect ratio, keep the pixels as size.
  • For the audio source, select which camera I want the main audio to be baked into the video.

Finally, name your video, and click render.

At the upper left hand corner you have batch render options. You can see the current status of your render, and can stop it or pause at any point if you need to.

Now that your video is finished rendering you can open it up and preview it, make sure everything looks right, make sure all the stitching lines are correct.

Export presets

9. Add Metadata

Before we finish the 360 video you need to do one more step: inject some metadata into your video file so that video players will recognize it as a 360 video.

Now there are a few ways we can do this, but I prefer to use the 360 videometadata tool from Google (download link at the bottom of this page).

Download and install the tool. Run the tool, click Open, and navigate to find your exported video. You'll see that your video has no metadata yet, which is correct.

Go ahead and click on Spherical (this is a spherical 360 video), and then click Save.

Again, what this metadata does is tell any external video player you upload the video to that this is a 360 video. 

Add spherical metadata to your video

Next Time

I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial showcasing the features of Autopano Video Pro and how easy it is to stitch footage together. In upcoming tutorials we'll take a closer look at stitching and how to get better results, and how to stabilize your footage.

Links Mentioned


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