360 camera stabilization is a very important tool when creating video content, whether that is 2d or 3d interactive content. If you watched one of your favorite YouTube channels newest videos and saw that the camera was shaking in 70% of the video you would probably stop the video immediately and regret your decision to watch that video. This is the current state most 360 VR content is in, but the immersive qualities makes it 10x worse than just a typical YouTube video especially when viewing it in a VR headset. Luckily for 360 video content creators, there are some simple solutions for solving this issue.
Stabilization options for 360 cameras
Lets take a look at some of the options for stabilizing 360 video from any 360 camera or a 360 camera rig. First we can do this in a post production software solution, like Mettle Skybox Studio. Another way is through sensors and software algorithms, which is what Garmin Virb and Xiaomi Mijia use. Lastly it can be done physically with multi-axis gimbals.
Post production software solutions.
Post production software like Adobe Photoshop or Final Cut Pro are very useful tools for standard 2d video content, but there is also some software specifically for 360 video content. One example that enables us to stabilize our 360 video is a package called Mettle Skybox Studio. This type of software is very useful, but only if the video has a subject or an object that stays in one spot the entire clip and is also seen constantly through the entire video. You might have to split up a longer video into shorter ones to stabilize the footage with different objects or subjects in each video clip. In the near future I will do a few tutorials on how to do this.
Digital – Sensor and Software Algorithms
Only a few newer consumer 360 cameras use this technique but I expect it to be a more standard feature in the future. The Xiaomi Mijia, MySight360 and the GarminVIRB are a few examples of 360 cameras that currently use this feature. The Xiaomi Mijia does this all internally for you, so when you export the video from the video camera it is already stitched and stabilized. I go over this and all the other features of the Xiaomi Mijia review.
The MySight360 was a successful Kickstarter and is currently in the stages of releasing their product, so for right now I do not have any user testing examples of the stabilization on that camera. The Garmin VIRB has an option you have to turn on before recording to enable sensor tracking. TheVIRB doesn’t do the stitching internally, you must export the footage into Garmin’s software. Garmin’s VIRB Edit software package takes the sensor information and stabilizes the video for you. In the future I will go over exactly how the VIRB does this in a Garmin VIRB review.
Multi axis gimbals are specialized motors and firmware that enable your camera to not move in the x, y or z directions. This way when you are shooting actions shots or anything with movement, the camera video will be automatically stabilized for you. This way you can pretty much do anything and have great quality video. There are multiple types of gimbals that you can use for 360 cameras. Handheld gimbals are the most common, aerial gimbals for drones or aircraft and lastly gimbals for RC cars or dolly.
Small handheld gimbals have been around for quite a while for the standard video camera. They stabilize the physical camera using multiple sensors and motors. They are the most used tool for correcting stabilization issues with normal or 360 video production. Just recently there have been a few newly released handheld gimbals for 360 cameras, the MOZA Mini 360, MOZA Air 360 and Feiyutech G360. The MOZA Mini handheld gimbal and Feiyutech G360 handheld gimbal are for smaller weight cameras up to 2kg. If you have a heavier camera, no problem! The MOZA Air 360 is for you, it handles cameras that weight up to 4kg.
Aerial Drone Gimbals
When wanting to get amazing 360 VR immersive content, creators typically have to start looking at aircraft. Drones are the easiest to use aircraft for video and photography. Now many gimbal companies are starting to create 360 camera gimbals that are compatible with drones. Keep in mind that many times the 360 cameras or the entire 360 camera rig could be very heavy. Because of this, many times you need to have a very good drone to get these types of shots. The DJI drone company is currently the market leader and have many drones to choose from. If you are interesting in what kinda of drones are available to purchase, check out the list of drones for 360 cameras page.
For drone multi axis gimbals, we have a few options available to use.
RC Car Gimbals
Most gimbals that are used on RC cars are similar or the same as the handheld gimbals or Drone gimbals. They are just attached to the center point on a remote control car or dolly. A lot of the time you can just take a drone gimbal and invert it or attach a hand held gimbal on top of the RC car or dolly.
Don’t have an RC Car or dolly yet, well don’t worry I have a list of RC Cars for 360 Cameras that you can look at. I also have a do it yourself guide on how to build a RC car for 360 cameras.
For RC car stabilization and gimbals, we also have a few options.
Finally, you can also create your own stabilized remote control car. Placing your handheld or a drone gimbal inverted on top of the remote control car and you are set!