360° Images on Facebook

Hey 360 fans!

Facebook just rolled out the ability to upload 360 panorama images. 360 Cameras like the Theta S are great, but I love creating images from scratch in Photoshop and Cinema4D as well. To create 360 Images this way, we'll need to tweak some Metadata tags in order for Facebook to recognize the image as a 360° panorama.

First, create the image. It should have a 2:1 ratio, so twice as wide as it is tall. It should also be high res. At least 4K wide, although the more pixels the merrier. I often go up to 8000x4000

Next, tweak the metadata! There are a few tools out there that I have found to work easily

SetEXIFData(Mac)  http://marc.vos.net/downloads/setexifdata/

Edit EXIF online: http://www.imgonline.com.ua/eng/exif-editor.php

Set 'Camera Make' to RICOH and 'Camera Model' to RICOH Theta S.

Process/save and you're good to go! Upload that sucker to Facebook and spin around in the world you've just created!

360º VR Animation - 6 Cam Method

Hey mograph peeps! This is my second article on creating 360º VR videos. If you missed my first article about the Shiny Sphere method in C4D (no plugins needed!!!) you can check that out here: 360º VR Animation with Cinema4D.

This method produces essentially the same results, but there are some differences in workflow. Lets take a look before we begin.

The Pros

Uses the Render Queue so you get access to Multipass layers, Team Render, and the handy dandy progress bar, etc.

The Cons

Need to stitch the 6 outputs together and warp them into an Equirectangular video so that it looks right when uploaded, which requires a plugin (or some tedious mesh warping? I go for the plugin)

Lets jump right in!

Setting up your Cameras

The 6-Cam method uses 6 standard Cameras pointing in all directions to capture your scene in 360º.

Set up your first camera and label it FRONT. Make its focal length 18mm. Cmd+B to open up render settings real quick and set your output to 1024x1024 (recommended for best final output) or some other 1:1 size.

 

 

Create a second camera in the exact same spot (copy+paste), turn it 90º to the LEFT and label it LEFT. and so on for RIGHT, BACK, TOP, and BOTTOM. Sweet! You should have a cube of cameras. I recommend attaching these to a null so you can move them around and creating a separate camera for previewing so you don't fuck them all up.

      

Render Settings

Next thing to do is set up your Render Settings. Make sure your Output Size is 1024x1024 and set your save location. You will be doing a render for each camera, so I recommend making a folder for your FRONT image sequence, and another for LEFT, RIGHT, and so on. You can set up your multipasses and whatever else you need to.

 

Now when you are ready to render, pop it in the Render Queue with the camera set to FRONT. Duplicate this render 5x in the queue. Match up the Cameras and Save Paths with their respective renders and press go! Then go do something because this might take a while! But you're used to this by now.

Stitching

I use Mettle Skybox  ($99) for this and it works great. Skybox will do what I describe here, but if you want some advanced tools for compositing and previewing check out the Studio version. Chris from the Mettle team is a super nice guy and helped me out a ton with understanding how the workflow works. No he is not paying me, it just feels even better to give my money to good people who are passionate about what they do and excited to share the knowledge.

Anyway, Pop your footage into AE. We are going to make a cube map, with LEFT, FRONT, RIGHT, and BACK lined up horizontally across the comp. TOP and BOTTOM go above and below FRONT.

 

Take this comp and put it into a new comp. Throw the Skybox Converter effect on it, and convert from Cube Map to Equirectangular.

 

BAM! Look at that wavy weird goodness!

 

Render that shit out of AE! You'll need an MP4 version, so I recommend using Adobe Media Encoder's H.264 preset. Next you need to prep the file for upload.

I've got an AE template (FOR FREE) here. [SKYBOX LICENSE REQUIRED] Option+Drag'n'Drop to replace each solid with its respective footage and zim-zala-bim! magic makes it look right in the output comp!

Metadata

YouTube is working on just being able to know that these bizarro looking videos are 360º VR vids, but at the moment its not built in. They released a tool here that adds a line of metadata to your video file that tells YouTube that it is made with a spherical camera. Scroll down to ‘Prepare for Upload’ and choose Mac or Windows version.

Toss your mp4 in the app, press Inject, and voila! The metadata has been added.

Upload

Upload that sucker to YouTube and tell your Mom to check out the cool thing you did!

360º VR animation with Cinema 4D

This is a quick walkthrough about how to create animated 360ºVR content for YouTube using native Cinema4D tools!

[I have an alternative method outlined here: The 6-cam method which also uses native tools. It includes a few extra steps and a third party plugin, but it comes with a few benefits.]

Anyway, Lets hop right in:

Spherical Camera

To make 360º content, we'll need a camera that can look in all directions at once, aka a Spherical Camera. Cinema 4D does not natively include a spherical camera. If you use VRay, you're in luck! VRay includes a spherical camera. Sweet! But I don't have vray so fuck that, we're gonna do this with regular ol' Cinema tools. You can skip these steps and download a rig I put together here if you'd like to save some time: Sean's Spherical Camera Rig for C4D. This rig will be periodically updated to become more robust over the next few months, and if you purchase now those updates will be sent to you for free! [UPDATE 9/10: Now includes Preview Cam with realtime pan/tilt control to simulate Youtube user experience directly in viewport]

To hack a spherical camera in C4D we're going to use a shiny sphere (Nick Campbell's ears are ringing right now).

Pop a sphere in your scene and make it pretty small. lets say 1cm. Throw a Compositing tag on there and uncheck Seen by Camera, Seen by Transparency and Seen by Reflection...pretty much uncheck everything. We want this guy to be 'invisible' to our scene like c4d cameras are.

Next just create a new material, turn off everything and turn on reflection. Leave it as is: 100% brightness, no Fresnel or anything (sorry Nick). Sweet! Now you have a spherical camera!

You will move this around your scene like its the camera. Wherever this sphere is will be where the viewer is able to pivot from. I recommend parenting a few actual cameras to your sphere so you can look through them in every direction as you animate. Kinda hacky, but it works! And you didn't have to spend a ton of $$ to make it happen.

Rendering

We are not going to render like we usually do. Since we aren't using a real camera we have to get a little hacky about this part too. We'll use the Bake Texture tag to save out the reflections on our sphere. Since we have a fully reflective sphere we will get an image that includes EVERYTHING 360º around our scene, as though there was a camera on every single point of the sphere.

Right click your Sphere>Cinema4D Tags>BakeTexture Tag to apply the tag

Here are a few key settings:

[Tag tab]

Set your Filename and save path, as well as file type. These options should look familiar from the render options.

Uncheck Automatic Size if it is checked. Set your size to have a 2:1 ratio. I generally use Width: 6000 Height: 3000. I wouldnt go below 4000x2000

[Options tab]

Leave everything unchecked except Reflection

[Details tab]

Either check Use Current Render Data and set your start and end time in the Render Options, or uncheck it and do it here.

Drag the 100% Reflective Texture Tag from your Spherical Cam object (not from the material manager).

Now go back to the Options Tab and press preview. Make sure some objects show up! If its black, double check that you dragged the right material and checked the proper boxes in the Bake Texture Tag. If it looks good, press Bake and go for a walk. These take a while, especially when you consider the Resolution.

The output is a distorted panorama image very similar to what you'd use for an HDRI sky map. After you bake out your image sequence (recommended! If a movie file screws up, you're left with a useless file. If an image sequence screws up, you can pick up where it left off) you'll need to render to an mp4 format. Now we have one final step before we can upload to YouTube!

Metadata

YouTube is working on just being able to know that these bizarro looking videos are 360º VR vids, but at the moment its not built in. They released a tool here that adds a line of metadata to your video file that tells YouTube that it is made with a spherical camera. Scroll down to 'Prepare for Upload' and choose Mac or Windows version.

Toss your mp4 in the app, press go, and voila! The metadata has been added.

Upload

Upload that sucker to YouTube and tell your Mom to check out the cool thing you did!