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360 camera basics: 4 WAYS to get a photo from a 360 video

How to get photos from your 360 video
How to get photos from your 360 video

Yes you can get a photo from a 360 video.  In this tutorial, I’ll discuss why you’d want to do that, plus 4 ways to do it, and some sample photos.

When should you use a 360 video to take a photo?

Taking a photo from a framegrab of a video will always result in lower image quality than a photo.  Nonetheless, a photo from a video is sometimes the only way to get the shot, short of faking it in Photoshop.

An easy example is the bungee jump shot here, with the camera being only a couple of feet away from me as I’m falling.  Even assuming you could find a way to put a camera at the bottom of a ravine, I was bouncing all over the place and there would have been no way to frame the shot this tightly.

The advantages of a 360 camera and 360 video

Insta360 One X, a stabilized 360 camera that captures a third person view video at up to 5.7K
Insta360 One X, a stabilized 360 camera that captures a third person view video at up to 5.7K

A 360 camera is the ideal tool for capturing unpredictable action because it is omnidirectional.  Moreover, a stabilized 360 camera can capture a third person view as if it was an invisible flying camera.   All you need is a selfie stick or monopod.  In this case, I was holding a monopod (a 2nd generation Insta360 Invisible Selfie Stick), extended partially to around 2 feet.  As long as the monopod is narrow enough to fit between the lenses of the 360 camera, the camera will appear suspended in mid-air.

Sample photos from a 360 video

Before I show how to take photos from a 360 video, I wanted to show some sample 360 photos and non-360 photos from a 360 video from the Insta360 ONE X (reviewed here).  You can look around the 360 photos by dragging the screen.  You can select other photos by clicking on the thumbnails:

How to get a photo from a 360 video

Method 1: A few 360 cameras, such as the Samsung Gear 360 2017, have built-in features in their apps for taking 360 photo screenshots from a 360 video.

Method 2: For most other 360 cameras, you’ll need to use a 360 video editing software that can take framegrabs.  In Adobe Premiere, for example, you can use the Export Frame to get a framegrab (see fig. 1):

Getting a 360 video screenshot in Adobe Premiere
Fig. 1. Getting a 360 video screenshot in Adobe Premiere

The framegrab should be in equirectangular format, which looks warped (fig. 1).  To share the framegrab as a 360 photo, you can upload it as-is to a 360 photo sharing site such as Kuula or Veer.  To upload it to Facebook, you’ll need to add 360 metadata for Facebook to recognize it as a 360 photo.  You can add 360 metadata with Exif Fixer for Windows or Mac, or with edit360 for iOS or Android (fig. 2).

Adding 360 metadata with Exif FIxer
Fig. 2.  Adding 360 metadata with Exif Fixer

After you click on Add Metadata, you’ll be able to upload the file to Facebook and it will be recognized as a 360 photo.

How to get a non-360 photo from a 360 video

Method 3: If you want to get a non-360 photo from the 360 video, you can also do that.  If you’re using Premiere, apply the GoPro VR Reframe effect (from the free GoPro VR plugin).  After the Reframe effect is applied, you can take a screen shot from the Program Monitor.

Method 4: Another way to get a non-360 photo is to import the 360 video into the free GoPro VR Player, which has a function for taking non-360 photo snapshots from the 360 video.

Do you have better ways of getting a photo from a 360 video?  Let me know in the comments!