Sunday, February 26, 2017

Editing in the round

In my previous post I wrote about my first experiences filming on a 360 camera. Here, I want to follow up with what happened when I tried to edit - on Final Cut X.

The first question: how do you get the right file to edit?

It might seem best to take the SD card from the camera, insert it into the side of your laptop and copy the original files across. But that doesn't work: you'll find MP4 files to import on the SD card, but sadly, they won't play on Final Cut.

That's because, as I mentioned in the previous post, the process of saving the files from the camera onto the phone also converts them into a readable 360 format - and those are the files you want to edit with.

To get access to the files easily on your laptop, you can use Android File Transfer on the laptop. Then, when you plug the phone into the laptop, you'll see a file structure view of the phone memory and will find the files you're looking for in the DCIM folder. Transfer those files to your laptop and import into Final Cut.

Now you'll be able to view the shots - not in 360 but in a panoramic view, which is good enough to identify the cut points you want, plus, of course, you'll be able to hear their audio to help with that.

From here on, you're editing just as you would with non-360 footage. You can even add titles and effects, as I tried here, combining my two experimental shots:



A couple of things haven't quite worked as I expected:

Somehow the 360 sphere has turned into the inside of a cylinder, with a black hole at the top where the sky ought to be.

And second, the titles are much bigger than I was expecting. On reflection, I think that's because I was judging them, as usual, in relation to the width of the editing screen, whereas here the shot, in its panoramic view, was much wider once it came back into 360 mode.

Having made your edit, the next job is to export the finished product. I first made a .mov file, which I used my Android File Transfer to put back onto the phone, so I could view through the Gear headset. But it turns out that Gear doesn't recognise .mov files, so that was no good.

So I went back to my laptop and converted it to an mp.4, using Mpeg Streamclip, and put that on the phone. Now it could be recognised and played, but it wasn't in 360.

One more process was required. It involves 'injecting' data into the file, to label it as 360. It's explained in this page of YouTube help. The important part is downloading and using the Spatial Media Metadata Injector. It's actually very easy: just check a box to say you're going to be showing it a 360 video, and it will remake the file to include that information.

Now if you view that file on your phone, you can have the full 360 experience on a headset with something you have edited, or you can upload to YouTube, as I did with the video above, and watch it on your phone.

I'm not sure how to avoid the cylinder problem with 360 editing, but apart from that, the process from filming to edited video worked pretty well once I'd understood what I was trying to do.

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