During my recent experiments I have been working with Adobe After Effects to apply special effects and animations to 360 degree video footage. My first experiments were quite successful. I was able to do what I set out to do, with a couple of areas that would need some further attention. One such area was the exportation format from After Effects which was producing an unusual effect whereby the 360 image was not wrapping correctly.

In the image below it can be seen how a 360 image looks when flattenned out. There are a multitude of settings and formats within After Effects related to 360 formatting; some of these depend on the destination platform. For example, whether the video will be used in VR or as a Facebook or Youtube video. After many, many cases of trial and error with different formats [I was unable to find sufficient documentation for my specific case within the Adobe support] I was able to output a satisfactory video, complete with the colour filters and rain effects.

360 image in After Effects

I took about 20 pictures at various locations around my town. I had previously used 360 video as the source format. However, I have since opted to work 360 photos which I then apply animated effects and further layers of superimposed footage within the Adobe suite of software. This approach means I can opt for a higher defintion of the underlying image source (a photo is higher resolution that a frame) and it also means the final video size is much smaller. A further advantage is that it more straightforward to edit out any unwanted elements. For example, I took one of my photographs into Adobe Photoshop and used it’s 3D tools to remove the camera tripod and the shadow it was casting.

Initial image after some photoshop clean up

Below, the image can be seen, within Photoshop – usually associated with flat images, with filters applied and the ability to move and edit in 360 mode.

Manipulating a 360 image within Adobe Photoshop

The following short clip demonstrates how what was originally static colour 360 image can be transformed into a more lively and ambient scene with just a few special effects.

After effects applied to animate a static image

Using this approach, I will be able to create some interesting scenes, by adding further animated scenarios and providing clues to the player about how to proceed wihin the gameplay.

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