“Any tips for shooting high-quality 360 videos on X3?”
“What’s the best way to edit 360 videos?”
“Instagram destroys my video’s image quality! What settings do you use?!”
If we had a dime for every time we get asked these kinds of questions… let’s just say we’d have a lot of dimes! The fact is, there’s a lot to learn with 360 cameras, no matter your experience. So, to try and answer some of your questions, we’ve put together this set of pro tips and advice for cameras such as Insta360 X3 and Insta360 RS (with the 360 Lens), including:
- Optimum camera settings
- Shooting 360 video techniques
- Editing 360 video tips
- Export settings for sharing and posting online
(Looking for tips for the RS 4K Boost Lens? Check out this article instead.)
So without further ado, let's dive straight in!
Firmware and Camera Setup
Before you get started, have a quick check that you’ve got the latest versions of the firmware and app. Updates go out regularly with improvements and new features; basically a free upgrade for your camera!
Another pre-shoot essential is to make sure you have the right type of SD card. For best results use UHS-I Micro SD cards with a V30 or above speed class and exFAT format. We recommend purchasing only name-brand microSD cards, such as SanDisk, and always through official resellers.
Next up, let’s talk settings. For highest quality 360 videos, we recommend shooting in 5.7K 30fps AUTO. That’s the sweet spot for epic reframed action shots. FlowState Stabilization and Horizon Lock are applied automatically when shooting 360 video, keeping your shots upright and level. If you ever notice anything unusual with your camera’s stabilization, you can also re-calibrate the gyroscope in the settings menu to ensure optimal results.
Active HDR mode (only for X3 and RS using 4K Boost Lens) is an epic new HDR mode for shooting stabilized action videos in incredible detail. We strongly suggest you try it out with X3 for seriously next-level image quality.
If you've got limited time to edit, Me Mode (only for X3) is a great new timesaving option. This allows you to shoot with the invisible selfie stick effect, but without the need to reframe after! Me Mode automatically keeps you centered and captures epic 60fps slow mo!
Another pro tip is to experiment with the sharpness settings. This can make a massive difference to the final result, with most creators opting for medium or high. It all depends on your personal tastes and the environment, but remember, you can always increase the sharpness in post if needed.
For coloring, the Standard profile offers a more natural look and leaves you with greater flexibility when editing, whereas the Vivid color profile has punchy, vibrant coloring, so it all depends what you’re after.
Lastly, a quick word on regular HDR video mode. This is best for shooting still video with a wide range of lighting, such as a sunrise. It is not suitable for action scenes.
Shooting Tips for Insta360 X3 and RS
OK, that’s the setup, now let’s get practical.
One essential step before every shoot is to clean the lenses! Sounds simple but it’s very easy for a shot to be ruined by an unnoticed bit of dirt, fingerprint or splash of water.
Crucial to shooting 360 video is correct mounting. To get a perfect Invisible Selfie Stick shot, the two camera lenses must be parallel with the selfie stick (see below). Check out our previous post for more pointers on using the Invisible Selfie Stick.
If you’re looking to get more unique angles there are plenty of other accessories to choose from. The Extended Edition Selfie Stick is one pretty epic option. As the name suggests, it’s a super long selfie stick (10ft / 3m) and offers huge creative possibility. It can even be used as an alternative to a drone:
Another personal favorite of ours is the Unicorn Helmet Mount. For any helmet-wearing action sports this can get you some awesome angles of yourself and your surroundings:
And for a whole bunch of creative tricks and ideas, check out these tutorials from Gimbal Guru:
360 Video Stitching Tips
Always remember since 360 cameras are usually designed with two (or more) lenses, there is a stitch line where the footage from the lenses meet on the side. Insta360 cameras process the stitch line in real time using our proprietary 360 video stitching algorithm. But there are some things you can do when shooting 360 video to make the stitch line less obvious in your footage:
- Avoid placing main objects in the stitch line on the side of the camera.
- Don’t rotate the camera while shooting. It is easier for the stitching algorithm to align the footage when your camera is in a fixed position.
- Don’t get too close to the camera. Keep a safe distance of 1m (about 3 feet) from the camera when possible.
- Select an angle where the stitch line is less obvious when reframing your footage to a flat video in post.
Another thing to keep in mind with all 360 cameras is that stitching will be less accurate underwater due to light refraction. Images underwater are magnified and distorted, which makes 360 video stitching more difficult than on land.
360 Video Exposure and Color Differences
When shooting 360 video, it’s important to manage exposure so that you don’t get color differences between the lenses. In most situations, the Auto exposure setting is the best option to keep exposure balanced.
One situation where Auto might not be best is if you use the camera in a chest mount or similar, where one of the lenses is close to your body. In this case, you’ll likely get a better result using Isolated Exposure.
And as some general advice, if there are any bright light sources in your shot then try to have the side of the camera facing the light, rather than one of the lenses.
Editing 360 Videos with the Insta360 App and Insta360 Studio
Shoot’s over, time to edit. First step is to choose your 360 video editing platform.
The Insta360 app is great for quick, efficient edits. You get access to the full creative arsenal of Shot Lab, FlashCut and all the AI-powered editing features. Plus, when you’re done, it’s quick and easy to share to social media or send to friends.
For an added bonus, if you've caught a particularly sweet angle in one of your 360 videos, turn it into a photo with the tap of a button! Just tap 'Snapshot' when viewing your video in the app, and it will save a killer pic straight to your album.
If you’re a more experienced user we also recommend exploring the Insta360 Studio desktop software. This comes with more options for detailed editing, settings and export. Here you can export in ProRes, which minimizes compression. Depending on your computer’s capacity, you should also experience faster export times with Studio compared to the mobile app.
The next stage of editing, if required, is to use Adobe Premiere. This is a great option for editing both 360 and flat video. In particular we recommend it for reframing, offsetting, motion blur and curving keyframes.
If desktop software is your thing and you want to explore more options, we also suggest checking out FinalCut and After Effects.
Editing 360 Video Tips
When it comes to editing 360 videos, here are a few essential pointers:
- FlowState Stabilization is essential for most situations so make sure to turn this on.
- In terms of coloring, we find the Vivid color profile to be enough of a boost to color, hence Color Plus normally isn’t necessary.
- If the shoot was in a low light environment, tick “Remove Grain” to eliminate some of that noise.
- If you notice any light/dark color difference in your footage, tick the Chromatic Calibration option to correct this.
- If you’re not satisfied with the sharpness or clarity, then try using a slightly wider FOV.
- For underwater footage, don’t forget to turn on AquaVision for more natural, life-like colors.
Remember when editing 360 videos in Insta360 Studio, three files are saved for every 5.7K 360 video. The first two are named VID_year/month/ day_time_00 OR 10_video number (e.g. VID_20200101_123000_00_001 and VID_20200101_123000_10_001). These two files are the main footage, with one file for each lens. The third file is an LRV file, which is a low-resolution video, mainly used for previewing and AI-powered analysis. When using Insta360 Studio, you only need to input the VID files and can ignore the LRV file.
If you’re looking for more in-depth tutorials to develop your 360 video shooting or editing skills, we recommend checking out @Best360 and @Gimbal Guru on YouTube. They have lots of useful videos with detailed instructions and top tips. You can also check out the Insta360 Tutorials channel on YouTube for further guidance.
Best Export Settings for Reframed 360 Videos
Until you’re ready to do the final export, always keep your files in the highest resolution and bitrate possible to ensure maximum quality.
For posting to social media, export settings vary depending on the platform and other factors. However, here is a rough guide that we use when posting reframed (flat) videos to Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Facebook:
File Type: mp4
Codec: H.264 or H.265
File Type: mp4
File Type: mp4
File Type: mp4
Well, that’s it from us. We hope you found this guide for shooting and editing 360 video useful. If you’re putting any of your footage online, don’t forget to tag us @Insta360 so we can see the results!
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