360° Video Projects
RaceRender 3.4 and newer supports 360° panoramic video projects. When viewed with
a compatible video service (such as YouTube and Facebook), the viewer is able to control
the view to look around in a full 360 x 180 degrees.
Components of a 360° Project
- Input Video - You have several options to get 360° video input into
- Raw Video from 360fly and Similar Fisheye 360° Cameras - Raw 360fly
footage should be automatically recognized and flattened into usable panoramic
video (equirectangular projection). Footage from other fisheye 360° cameras
may initially appear as a sphere or globe, which will need to be be flattened. The
360 Sphere controls on the
Input File Configuration screen will enable you
to flatten a compatible spherical video into the necessary equirectangular projection,
as well as control the Pan angle for these and for 360fly videos, so that you can
adjust the front-facing orientation (you'll want the primary or front-facing view to
be in the center).
- Pre-Flattened 360° Footage (2:1 equirectangular) - This is the common
video format typical for 360° video for YouTube and other services. The software or
app provided with most 360° cameras should be able to produce this format for you.
It should have an orientation so that the primary or front-facing view is in the center
of the picture. This type of video file will need to contain the typical Google spherical
metadata for it to be recognized as 360° video, however the 360° Metadata Tool
(under the File menu) could also be used to add it to supported files.
- Regular Videos and Images - Once you have your project set to a 360°
workspace, you'll be able to place normal videos and images into the 360° space.
For example, you might put a regular video display in the center as the main view,
and then add other video displays or graphics to the left, right, above, and/or below,
so that the viewer will see them when he looks around. This type of project may take
some extra trial and error to get it looking right, but you can save the result as a
project template for your later use in future projects.
- Project Workspace - If not already set, use the Settings button to set
the Workspace to a 360° option. This will greatly expand the working area and
coordinate system, so that you can place display objects in the full 360x180 degree working
It is normal and desired for data overlays and graphics to appear much smaller when
using a 360° workspace. This is because a non-360° project will use a
coordinate range of 0% to 100% (100% total width and height), whereas a 360° project
enables a range of -100% to 200% (300% total width and height). You have 9 times the
amount of coordinate space displayed on the screen. Things look smaller because you are
effectively zoomed-out a bit.
The primary or intial view will be in the center of your workspace, having X,Y coordinates
from 0,0 to 100,100 percent, and thus a Width and Height of 100% each. This is also where
typical data overlays and other non-360° templates will be placed by default.
Things will naturally appear a bit warped:
360° video will appear somewhat warped when flattened, but should look great
when displayed within a 360° viewer. This is because the spherical picture is
being stretched to fill a flat rectangle, similar to how a picture of the Earth
is commonly projected (and thereby distorted) into rectangular world map. The
warping or distortion will be most apparent as you look closer to the very top
or very bottom of the picture, but this is an expected effect and is not a problem.
Data overlays, graphics, text, etc., may appear slightly curved or warped when
displayed within a 360° viewer. This is a natural effect of projecting flat
images into a spherical view. This appearance can change depending on the view
angles within the 360° viewer, and especially due to the vertical placement.
For best results, place these objects near the vertical center of the workspace,
such as between 0% and 100% Y coordinates. Use Edit ->
Show 360 View Guide to overlay lines depicting the this range.
- Output Video Characteristics - For the video file created from a 360° project
to be understood and viewed correctly, it should typically be in a 2:1 aspect ratio
(this equates to 360:180 degrees), and contain 360° spherical metadata. These are set by
default on the Create Video screen when your project is set to
a 360° workspace, or you select a 360° Distribution Profile.
An alternate 360° 16:9 workspace is available for users on older operating systems
that don't support 2:1 aspect ratio output. This generally works with compatible 360°
video services, but may not be perfect, and may impact the alignment of objects on the
screen. In effect, we're squashing the picture a little bit, and then counting on the
360° viewer to still treat it as covering 360x180 degrees. For best results, upgrade
to a newer operating system where 2:1 output is supported by this software.
360° metadata can be added to .MP4 output files automatically. This option will be
enabled by default when you have a 360° workspace selected while creating an output
video file. There is also a 360° Metadata Tool available from the main screen's File
menu, which can add or clear this metadata from supported video files.
Due to the nature of 360° viewers effectively zooming-in on sections of the video
picture, you may find that your data and graphics overlays benefit by choosing a
4K output resolution (typically 1920p for 2:1 360° video), even if your 360° camera
is much less than 4K. Please remember that this represents a very large increase in
processing load, and it will therefore take much longer to render.
It can be a good idea to first render a draft video at lower resolution and lower quality to test
the look and layout of your project with your desired 360° viewer or service before spending
the time on a high-quality 4K render.