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9 Tips to Get the Best Video Quality from Insta360 One X

How to get the best video quality with Insta360 One X
How to get the best video quality with Insta360 One X

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.

2. Lighting

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.

Avoiding glare in a 360 photo or 360 video
Avoiding glare in a 360 photo or 360 video

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.

Original vs Superb bitrate when edited
Original (left) vs Superb (right) bitrate when exposure is pushed during video editing

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!

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Mic Ty

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  • Wondering what settings you personally use to export One X video, as it always looks good? I am a newbie at this, and am struggling getting quality export without stutter (for upload to Youtube and direct playback in an Oculus Go, using their gallery app). I have Premiere and so can move beyond the Studio app options.

  • I cannot get videos exported from 360 studio to be actual 360 videos. they lose half the data and blow up to ridiculous sizes. can you help?

  • I have a question? I know that the stats overlay is only available in fixed frame or free capture or whatever it is called (not 360) and only on the iOS app and not on Insta360 Studio 2020. I recorded my video in 5.7K 30fps with good lighting but when I shared it to YouTube from my iPhone, I cannot find a way for it to be in landscape mode rather than portrait mode (your example is in landscape view) and the video quality is poor. Is there a way to change the orientation (do I simply turn the camera on its side) and improve the video quality? Thank you in advance.

    • Hey there Kelly. So if I understand correctly, you recorded in 5.7k 30fps and you want to post it as a video that is non-360, is in portrait mode and has better quality.
      1. From the phone app gallery, tap on the video.
      2. To make it portrait mode, tap on the aspect ratio button above the timeline, and choose 9:16 or the aspect ratio you want.
      3. To export as non-360, tap on the share button on the top, choose where you want to export, e.g. local, then in the next screen, choose “FixFrame.”
      4. For better quality, it’s hard to say unless I see your video. Please note that the more you zoom in, the lower the quality of the video, so one way to get better quality is to use the wider view.
      If you want maximum quality, use the Insta360 Studio 2020 desktop app because it will let you choose the bitrate, etc. but as you said, no Insta360 Stats.
      1. To make it non-360, click on the FreeCapture tab on top.
      2. To make it portrait mode, click on the 16:9 button toward the right of the play button, and choose 9:16 or any other aspect ratio you want.
      To finalize, click the export button on the upper right corner.

      • Hello and thank you for your prompt and courteous reply. It reconfirmed some things for me. My understanding with the Insta360 One X is that to shoot a video with the stats overlay, you have to shoot in 360 anyway and then just edit the view and select the stats overlay before you export from the app. It is a shame that stats is not available from studio so you can choose a better bitrate. I also learned the hard way that you must use your iphone app to start the recording so that your iphone hardware records the data for the stats. I originally thought that ability was within the camera itself. I built a model rocket with a clear payload bay and put my Insta360 One X inside to record the flight. I started the recording at the camera instead of with my phone. I was hoping that the video would be able to display the speed and elevation. Am I correct that it would not have worked anyway because the rocket would have been too far from the iphone and lost connection. My rocket went to an altitude of 1500ft. Did get a beautiful view anyway. Thanks for your help.

        • Hi Kelly! That sounds like a remarkable video. Maybe you should submit to insta360 awards. You are right that it would have been too far from your phone anyway. There is a bluetooth gps remote and it may have been possible to include the remote in the rocket together with the one x.