360 degree video is a service we have been delivering since the technology was in its infancy. We have used early 360 cameras like the Samsung Gear 360, we have used rigs with multiple GoPro cameras fitted like the original Freedom 360 rig and then the GoPro Omni. Now we mainly use the fantastic GoPro Max. This serves most purposes and allows us to deliver interactive training tools, virtual tours and is also gives us the ability to use immersive storytelling to really hit a message home to the audience like we did last year when creating a 360 sexual harassment drama, which has been used in headsets to give young male adults a different perspective on some unfortunately common ocurances.
Recently we were asked to produce a factory tour for one of the UK’s biggest fashion brands (due to an NDA we cannot disclose who I’m afraid). This was to be used in Oculus headsets to give investors at a fashion show an experience of where the garments were made. They wanted the highest quality footage possible so it gave us the opportunity to get our hands on what is widely regarded as the market leading camera in this field. The Insta360 – Titan. It boasts 11K VR video recorded in 10 bit colour with 8 MFT sensors, and looks a bit like something from Star Wars.
Both ourselves and the clients were thrilled with the results we got from it but from a film-making perspective there were a number of obstacles we needed to overcome to get the best out of this fabulous piece of equipment. We thought it would be useful to share what we had learnt for those of you thinking of buying or hiring in the Titan for your own projects.
Remove the Antennae
Remove the antennae from the top as these can sometimes be seen in the Nadir (top of the shot). However, the downside of this is it limits the range of the WiFi. You can connect to your phone or tablet for a preview without the antennae however the range was limited to only a few metres.
Bring a spare battery (if you can!)
Charge the battery whenever you can, battery life is limited to around 1 hour and most rentals only come with one battery.
Take a secondary sound recording device if you can as the in built sound recording wasn’t great. We did turn the internal fans off during the recording, however, the quality wasn’t impressive and often sounded more like static. If you wanted to record spatial audio (so as your head move the audio follows, you could try recording using a Zoom H2N which allows for spatial audio recording). This could then be mounted to the camera stand.
There is a lot of data to deal with. The camera has 9 MicroSD cards, one for each of the 8 cameras and 1 for the preview and project file. The camera (usually) comes with a 9 card reader USB device, when using this, all the files should automatically be found in the stitching software ready for processing. However, if like us your hire does not come with the USB reader (it was broken) this can be a problematic process! We are guessing a broken card reader is common problem given the number of resources online telling us to connect it via LAN so we could ingest the footage. This would have been a very long process, after 1 hour of waiting we estimated the 45 minutes of footage would have taken 15 hrs to transfer to our editing station. Thankfully this is where, even though we could find no help online, we worked out how to ingest the cards one by one and then arrange the files so they could be stitched. This will probably be the most useful advice for those of you using the camera, so we have put together this handy guide for you…..
Click here to access https://inspiredfilmandvideo.co.uk/titan-360-guide/the guide.
The Insta360 Titan requires a lot of hard drive space for it’s unprocessed files. Remember, this machine has 8 cameras capturing footage to 8 MicroSD Cards. To give you an idea of storage required, each minute will be around 10GB. We captured around 7 minutes per shot and we captured 9 shots with a combined data of 600GB before any processing had begun.
Clear some space on your hard drive, you’re going to need it.
The preview files the Insta360 titan generates are great but you really need to get the footage onto a computer and use Insta360’s stitching software before you get it into your editing software. Beware this is a time intensive process. We are running the latest Mac Studios with M2 chips and running at max speed it still took an hour for each 5 minute clip we had recorded. Make sure you build adequate time into the delivery schedule for this process.