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Basic VR Techniques, Equipment, Software, Tips and Tricks

Use a monopod not a tripod

Although tripods are great when using conventional cameras, they are not so great for VR cameras.  This is because VR cameras record everything, including the tripod. Since you don't  want to see the tripod in your VR film, you will need mask it out in post. Using a monopod makes this task easier.  Another trick is to take a picture of the ground before you've placed your monopod, so that this can be used to replace the monopod in post. The Vuze VR studio software supports replacing the bottom part of the image in their rendering step.

It is extremely important however to ensure that your monopod solution is stable for your given VR camera. The Insta360 Pro camera for example is over 3 lbs, so a regular monopod with  chicken feet will not work. We use a weighted mic stand with a camera mount adapter.

Camera placement
First Person Point of View

When you film in VR, your camera is a person in the scene. When someone is wearing a VR headset watching a 360 VR film, they are in the film, viewing from a  first person point of view. Therefore, when you place your camera for filming, consider what you want the viewer to see and feel.  Are they standing-up, or sitting down?  Do you want them to feel short or tall ?

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Beware of surroundings

Anything in view of the camera can be seen by the viewer in the VR headset, so make sure your surroundings are consistent with what you’re shooting.

Image by Motah
Camera movement considerations

Many people have issues watching VR films with camera movement, particularly people that are prone to motion sickness. This is due to the mixed signals from the vestibular and visual systems. If there is camera movement, then the VR viewer's eyes are telling their  brain that they are moving, while at the same time their vestibular system is telling their brain they are not moving. 

Our informal observation is that approximately 1 in 5 people will take off the headset  when there is camera movement. Some tricks can help lessen this effect , for instance if there are stationary surroundings in the scene, such as an airplane cockpit. 

Image by John Matychuk
Stereoscopic vs Monoscopic 

There are several considerations for determining whether to shoot in mono or stereo. These include your subject matter, the goals of your experience, ease of workflow, and costs. If for example you are creating VR of wide open spaces with no close up subject matter, then mono is a better choice then stereo. The resolution and bit rate are not divided in two, there are fewer stich issues, the camera costs are way less, and the work flow is much faster. If however your subject matter is a room with people and you want your viewers to truly feel they are in that room in person, then stereoscopic is more effective and will be much more immersive. But, the resolution and bit rate is now spread across each eye, there are more stitch issues, and the camera costs are much higher.

Workflow considerations include if you have masking, or other effects, then stereo is twice the work than mono.


The wTh

Mind  the Stitch

Each of VR camera has stitch issues, particularly when your subject is close to the camera. The general approach is to plan your shot as best you can to position the camera lenses to minimize the stitch lines; the subject that your are filming should be as directly in front of the lenses as possible, and avoid having your content focus areas located at the edges of the camera, 

The Vuze 360 camera is both good and bad. It has a sweet spot  for very close-up stereo captures if the subject stays square with a stereo lens pair. It does work so well however for lots of movement across the corners.

The Insta360 Pro works well unless the subject get too close (around 2 feet) and there is no sweet spot for close up.

Monoscopic cameras such as the Insta360 One X2 have less issues with stitch lines as there are only two lenses. 


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Best Computers for Creating VR 

Stitching software is very graphics intensive, as the software is literally stitching images frame by frame, furthermore these are 4K, 5K, and even as high as 11K videos, and from 2 to 8 cameras.


We strongly recommend  a high end PC with a good graphics cards, such as NVidia 2080 or higher, and 32GB of RAM or more.  Stitching on a Mac is unfortunately something the kind  people at apple do not care too much to support. Most stitching software will technically work on a Mac, but you will need lots of patience and a liking for a bit less hair.

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