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When to SAY NO to 360 videos: 3 Simple Rules; plus: a POWERFUL alternative

You guys know that I love 360 cameras and VR but in this video, I argue that 360 videos are not for everything and not for everyone.  Instead I propose 3 simple tests to determine whether a video should be in 360 or not.  But regardless of the answer, I also show how you can use a 360 camera to create amazing non-360 videos (aka overcapture videos, freecapture videos or reframed 360 videos) with effects that would otherwise require hundreds if not thousands of dollars of equipment!

Here is the video:

3 simple tests

I proposed 3 simple tests for determining whether a video should be 360:

1. Special time or place.  If the video will be about a special time or a special place, then I believe a 360 video is the perfect way to capture and remember that moment.  Not only does it capture the time or place most faithfully, but it provides a unique way to share the special time or place with our family and friends.   With a VR headset, they can experience the moment more closely than with a non-360 video or photo.

2. “What’s it like…?”   360 cameras have been called ’empathy machines’ for their ability to enable you to experience a different perspective.  Not surprisingly, many 360 videos represent the answer to the question, “what’s it like to…?”   If the question and/or the answer are interesting, then that’s an indicator that it’s a good subject for a 360 video.

3. Can it be done with a non-360 camera?   If the video can be done just as effectively with a non-360 camera, then there’s a good likelihood that it should not be in 360 in the first place.

If the 360 video doesn’t pass even one of the tests, I would argue that it doesn’t belong in 360.  But READ ON!

Using a 360 camera for a non-360 video

Nonetheless, even if you won’t shoot a 360 video, you can use a 360 camera to create a non-360 video with interesting effects that would otherwise require hundreds or thousands of dollars of equipment.   Sometimes called overcapture, freecapture, or reframed videos.

There are several ways to create an overcapture video from a 360 video.  Here are some ways:
Desktop (in order of cost):
1. Insta360 Studio (free; Windows, Mac)
2. Garmin Virb Edit (free; Windows, Mac)
3. Cyberlink Powerdirector 16 Ultra (Windows)
4. Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus 2017 and 2018 (Windows)
5. Adobe Premiere with GoPro VR plugin‘s VR Reframe effect (Windows, Mac)

Mobile (in order of cost):
1. Insta360 Nano S app (for Insta360 Nano S only; iOS only).
2. Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere (for Mi sphere only; iOS & Android)
3. Insta360 ONE’s app (for Insta360 ONE only; iOS & Android)
4. Rylo app (for Rylo only; iOS, Android)
5. GoPro app with GoPro Fusion (for Fusion only; iOS, Android)
In addition to these built-in apps, see below for a workaround for any 360 camera.

Here is part 2 (creating overcapture on desktop with Insta360 Studio):

Here is part 3 (creating a more natural overcapture video with your phone), using a workaround that can work for any 360 camera, for most phones (iOS or Android).

How about you?  Do you like overcapture style videos, or you prefer 360 videos?  Let me know in the comments!

About the author

Mic Ty


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  • Hello Mic.

    I have a Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere, but cannot do anything with the footage or stills I capture. I cannot stitch anything, and I have tried the Mi Sphere desktop program, and now Insta360. It just looks at the video and does nothing. I see you uploaded a functioning video to it on the tutorial. I wish I could get mine to be functional on anything other than the phone that is connected to the camera.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you Mate.

  • A very important benefit of 360 videos IME is that you can shoot a video while seeing through your own eyes at the same time.

  • I’ve been stitching 360 photos for years in Autopano, and those look great.

    I returned my Fusion because I found the image quality to be too poor for adequately preserving memories.

    Unless you absolutely *need* video, I recommend not using a (“consumer”) 360 camera at this time.

  • Hi Mic,
    First, thank you for all the work you put into your videos and testing; it’s really impressive. I’ve learned a ton from you. Regarding 360 vs. overcaptured 360, I’ll say this: 360 in VR isn’t for everyone. I’ve found that walking or moving in a 360 video can make some people sick to view (this isn’t much of a problem when the camera is still, though). I’ve watched videos in the headset that didn’t bother me, but will give some people nausea. Folks should keep this in mind when deciding how to present their video. Although I love 360 video, it’s a hassle for most (VR headset and environment), and 2D video can’t be beat for convenience. However, like you said, for special things, where immersion is highly desirable, 360 is awesome. I suspect that more-convenient VR/AR glasses are just over the horizon, so this may be less important in the future, as immersive experiences become more common.