If you’re wondering why your Insta360 One X (reviewed here) videos don’t look as good as some of the samples you’ve seen, then this tutorial is for you. Here are 9 techniques to get the best video quality from the Insta360 One X.
1. How to get the best stitching quality
The Insta360 One X’s stitching quality for video is not as good as its stitching for photos. For photos, the One X uses optical flow stitching, which enables it to get smooth stitching at all distances. By contrast, for videos, the One X has simpler template-based stitching, which can get perfect stitching at only one distance. The solution is to be aware of the One X’s stitch line (the area where the two lenses meet). Avoid putting the subject or anything important (especially people) along the stitch line.
Like any camera with a small sensor, the Insta360 One X gets the best image quality when it is in bright light. If possible, try to have the subject face the sun or other primary light source. For example, you might consider changing your path so that the subject faces the sun most of the time.
3. Secret trick to reduce glare
You might already know that the best way to get an even exposure and minimize glare is to aim the stitch line at the sun or primary light source. Here’s a trick to aim the stitch line at the sun easily, without even looking at the sun. The trick is to use the camera’s shadow. Turn the camera so that the shadow is at its slimmest. Then you’ll know that its stitch line is aimed at the sun, even without looking at the sun.
4. HDR Video: when to use and when not to use
One of the best features of the Insta360 One X is also one of its most underutilized features, which is HDR Video. With HDR Video, the Insta360 One X’s special Sony sensors can record video at two different exposures at the same time. The result is a far greater dynamic range than any other consumer 360 camera. It’s the only consumer 360 camera to offer that feature as of June 2019.
One reason this feature is underutilized is that Insta360 itself suggests limiting this mode to stationary videos: “The ONE X is the first action camera to support HDR video, designed for stationary use.” The truth is that HDR Video can be used even when the camera is moving, without ghosting or any other artifacts.
However, HDR Video stabilization is indeed limited in one circumstance: in low light. If you use HDR Video in low light conditions, stabilization won’t work correctly. One lens may have different stabilization from another, so that half of the video is moving in a different way from the other half. Highlights may also appear to blink or act detached from the video.
As long as you avoid using HDR Video in low light however, you should be able to use HDR Video even while moving.
BTW, when using HDR Video, the colors may look flat due to the wider dynamic range. To make HDR Video look better use a LUT (such as Insta360’s LUT for the One X) or increase the contrast of the video as needed.
5. How to shoot in low light
A common complaint about the Insta360 One X is that it has too much blur in low light. By default, Insta360 One X uses a slow shutter speed in order to use a low ISO. The lower ISO results in less noise but the slow shutter speed increases blur.
There are two ways to deal with blur in low light. The ideal way is to keep the One X stationary on a tripod. This will allow the One X to use a low ISO without excessive blur from camera shake.
If you must move in low light, you need to increase the shutter speed. There are three ways to increase the shutter speed. Either you can use the in-camera menu to change the video setting from Shutter: Auto to Shutter: Fast, or you can use the smartphone app to do the same, or you can use the smartphone app to switch to manual exposure for video and use a faster shutter speed.
6. Stitching settings
When stitching Insta360 One X videos on the desktop, you have the choice to use the Original bitrate or Superb bitrate. If you are not going to edit your video, then Original and Superb appear indistinguishable. However, if you will push your exposure in post, then using Superb will have fewer compression artifacts.
7. The video editor with the best image quality
When editing your Insta360 One X video, you can get the best video quality with Adobe Premiere CC. That is because Premiere CC enables you to edit One X videos without stitching them beforehand. Not only is the no-stitch workflow faster, but you will also avoid one level of compression. Videos edited with the no-stitch workflow have noticeably better dynamic range than conventionally edited videos.
Here is a tutorial for the Premiere no-stitch workflow.
8. Render settings
When rendering your edited video, you need to ensure a sufficiently high bitrate. For 5.7K videos from Insta360 One X in 360 format, use a bitrate of at least 48 to 60 mbps variable bit rate (H.264 codec). For 1080p overcapture videos, use a bitrate of 15 to 20 mbps variable bit rate (H.264). If using H.265, you can use about half of those bitrates.
9. To get good video, you need good audio.
If you will be talking in your video, then you must have good audio. Poor audio will not be overlooked by your audience (something I had to learn from experience).
In that regard, many people complain about the Insta360 One X’s microphone. Actually, the One X’s microphone is not bad. The real issue is that the One X is often used with a monopod or selfie stick and is positioned far from the user. When a microphone is too far from a subject, the sound will suffer no matter how good the microphone is.
The solution to get good audio is to use an external recorder and external microphone. It may sound like overkill, but it makes a huge difference, and good audio is not optional.
For an external recorder, you can use even your smartphone and a voice recorder app. It will be much better than the in- camera microphone. I personally like to use the Zoom H1n, which can record up to 10 hours on a pair of AAA batteries and an 8GB micro SD card.
For a microphone, I recommend Powerdewise lav mic or if you have the budget for it, Rode Wireless Go wireless receiver and transmitter with built lav mic. Many people swear by Rode Smartlav lav mic but I have two and they both failed after a couple of months.
Here is a tutorial for syncing audio by my friend Gaba VR:
For more information
Do you have any other tips or questions? Let me know in the comments!