This article is part of an extensive series of articles to walk creators through the process of making a 360-degree video, from start to finish.
Working with immersive media is what drove me–a huge Mac fan–to PC. As a result, I also converted to Premiere Pro from Final Cut Pro X. Shortly after I converted, Mac finally hopped on board the immersive media train. However, the conversion was complete.
As such, I haven’t had the opportunity to use Final Cut Pro’s VR-specific tools (though I hear they are amazingly fast and non-glitchy). So, in this series, we’ll only cover 360 video editing with Premiere Pro.
Importing media, building sequences
The process of creating a new project and importing footage is the same. Just be sure to import the stitched footage!
Another difference is you may wish to use a proxy workflow to speed things up. This is especially important if you’re not editing on a powerhouse machine, or if you’re using footage from any camera better than the Gopro Fusion.
Here is a good tutorial on proxy workflows for VR:
Like any other video, you can drag your first 360 clip onto your timeline and the sequence will automatically match the settings of the original video clip.
From here, you can start building your video in much the same way you would any flat project, with only a few differences.
First, you may want to make your shots longer than you normally would. This is especially true for videos you plan to be watched more often in headsets. 360 videos for Facebook and YouTube “magic windowA method of viewing 360 content where a rectangular frame acts as a portal to the larger, spherical recording. The viewe... More” watching with a computer or smartphone can have speedier cuts than 360 videos watched in a headset. For this reason, many creators often do two versions of their immersive videos.
Regardless of the delivery method you anticipate, the first shot–or even the first couple of shots–should be a bit longer. From there, you can speed things up a bit. We normally shoot for a minimum of 5 seconds. The reason those first shots can be longer–even 15 seconds–is that at that point, people who are new to headsets are often turning their head wildly. Give them a chance to acclimate to the medium.
A second difference is that you will want to watch in VR mode. You’ll notice that the video automatically plays in equirectangularStretching a spherical image into a flat, rectangular format. (i.e. the way a world map represents the spherical Earth).... More mode.
You can change this by adding the VR display button to your program monitor.
Watch the video below to learn where to do this:
You may also want to watch in a VR headset as you edit, if possible with your computer and the VR headsets you have available. It’s really the only way to judge your edits clearly, if that’s the method you anticipate people will be watching in. For example, does that cut work? Did you sharpen the video too much? More on that later.
If you can hop into a headset to check things while you edit, do it.
Rotating shots, fixing horizons
You will want to rotate your shots to ensure the audience is looking where you want them to look at each cut. To do this, you’ll use Adobe’s immersive video tools, specifically, the “rotate sphere” tool, available under “video effects” and “immersive video”.
This is one of a handful of immersive video effects Adobe added to Premiere in the fall of 2017. Other effects include blur, chromatic aberrations, color gradients, de-noise, digital glitch, flow, plane to sphere, projection, rotate sphere and sharpen. The tools we’ll use here are plane to sphere, projection, sharpen and rotate sphere.
To rotate the sphere, drag the VR Rotate Sphere effect onto your clip and then drag left and right on the PanSet the position in space for where audio appears to originate. (Y axis) tool to set the view.
Typically, you want to put the focus wherever you anticipate the viewer was looking at the end of the previous clip. You can learn more about anticipating action in the storyboarding section of this series.
This is also a good time to fix the horizons on your video so they are straight. You can download GoPro’s free VR plugins: to do this. They include “reframe”, which allows you to adjust your video to fixed frame video, little planets, ultra wide angleA lens or focal length that shows more in the frame than a typical human field of view. (As opposed to a telephoto lens ... More and other versions of the original 360 shot; “layers”, which is similar to plane to sphere and can be used to warp flat media (text, photos) to fit the sphere; and the “horizon” tool.
Use this tool to ensure the horizon on your shots is flat (an absolute must). It is possible to adjust the horizon with the “VR rotate sphere” tool in Premiere’s integrated toolset, however, I think the GoPro tool is easier to use. On both tools, you can set keyframes to adjust the varying horizons, for example, hand-held and drone shots.
Color correctionThe adjustment of color in post-production to match different shots and enhance the picture. & sharpening
Next, you will want to color correct your footage. There isn’t much leeway on color correctionThe adjustment of color in post-production to match different shots and enhance the picture., though it is desperately needed in VR footage which often looks dull and gray compared to the real world we live in (and thus, immersion-breaking). We’ll talk about best practices of color correctionThe adjustment of color in post-production to match different shots and enhance the picture. in another segment of this series.
Then, you should sharpen your shot with the VR Sharpen tool. The degree to which you can sharpen each shot varies, and I highly recommend doing this (and color correcting) with headset viewing available to check your work, as they look very different from screen to headset.
Removing tripods, adding titles
After you’ve done your color correctionThe adjustment of color in post-production to match different shots and enhance the picture. and sharpening, it is a good time to remove your tripod. Visit our guide to tripod removal here.
When adding titles to 360 video, there are a few things you will do differently. With Premiere’s native “plane to sphere” tool, under “video effects” and “immersive video”, you can drag in any title or graphic, then drag and drop “plane to sphere” onto it.
Then, adjust its location, size, text, etc., choose stereoscopicVideo shot with two parallel cameras (or in the case of 360° video, multiple pairs of parallel cameras) Commonly referr... More or monoscopic, as well as adjust some other factors. For a full rundown on how to add text to 360 video in Premiere, visit that section of this series.
You may choose to copy the titles to place them in more than one spot in the scene. We normally do one title–two maximum–but some creators do even three or four to ensure people will see them regardless of the direction they’re looking.
Adding transitions to 360 video
Once the video and audio is locked in, apply transitions. When Adobe added immersive video tools to Premiere Pro in 2017, it added a handful of 360 video-specific transitions. They are available under “video transitions” and “immersive video”.
It’s important to use these special immersive video transitions (and cross dissolve) for any transitions you may add to your video, as the other transitions will leave you with weird lines and artifacts since they aren’t made for use with 360 video.
The immersive video transitions include chroma leaks, gradient wipeA transition effect where the image displayed slides offscreen, revealing the new scene behind., iris wipeA transition effect where the image displayed slides offscreen, revealing the new scene behind., light leaks, light rays, mobius zoom, random blocks and spherical blur.
We don’t use transitions for every cut; our rule of thumb is to use them on any shot that cuts from inside to outside. The transitions that we’ve found work best for VR are cross dissolve, fade to black (which is reminiscent of a blink) and iris wipeA transition effect where the image displayed slides offscreen, revealing the new scene behind..
Exporting 360 video from Premiere Pro
When it comes to exporting 360 footage, the process is simpler than you might think. It does get more complicated if you are exporting to specific headsets, however, you can very easily export for Facebook, YouTube and the like directly from Premiere with the proper settings.
Simply to go to “file”, “export” and “media” and then choose to create an H264 file and select the dropdown menu to choose from various presets. Select the platform upon which you plan to share your video, and the resolutionThe number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More that matches the resolutionThe number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More of your video (or highest available).
Under the video tab, scroll all the way to the bottom to ensure that the “video is VR” box is checked. Then, simply export the video and upload to your selected platform.
The wrap up
For a simple 360 video, this guide likely covers everything you need to edit your 360 videos in Premiere.
Although it’s easy to go crazy with your edits, remember that you are losing quality with every edit. With the already limited resolutionThe number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More of immersive media it’s all the more important to have a light touch.
For a step-by-step video walkthrough of Premiere for 360 video editing, I recommend the following videos.
This one is older, but very detailed:
The tutorials from CreatorUp’s Hugh Hou are also very good.
Premiere tutorial for 360 content:
Premiere tutorial for stereoscopicVideo shot with two parallel cameras (or in the case of 360° video, multiple pairs of parallel cameras) Commonly referr... More 360 content:
Chapters of this series:
Top three 360-degree camera recommendations
7 tools every 360 video beginner needs
What makes a good story for 360-degree video
How to storyboard 360-degree video
16 beginner tips for shooting 360-degree video
How to shoot first-person point-of-view in 360
How to direct the audience’s attention for 360 videos
Ingest/file management best practices for 360 video
How to stitch 360 video with GoPro Fusion Studio
How to stitch 360 video with MistikaVR
How to edit 360 video in Premiere Pro
How to remove the tripod in 360 videos