In the past few years, 360 video has really taken off thanks to new advances in technology. These advances are making it possible for filmmakers and consumers alike to create high quality immersive video content – and the GoPro Omni has been one of the big contenders in providing professional filmmakers with the tools they need to do just that.

GoPro Omni Review – Introduction

Last year, TopLine Film travelled to Alaska to shoot a video about the sustainable salmon fishing industry and what makes the produce of our client, Alaska Seafood, incredibly fresh and sustainably caught.

We wanted the audience to see first-hand the efforts that are going into sustainable fishing in Alaska and therefore we felt that the best way to fulfil the aim of this video was to shoot an immersive 360 video using the GoPro Omni camera rig to ‘’transport’’ the audience to see it.

So, what is the GoPro Omni? It is a spherical array of six synchronised GoPro Hero 4 cameras which, once edited together, creates high quality 360 images. It can output up to 8K video in raw mode and was designed to help professionals create immersive content.

This review takes a behind the scenes look at the process of shooting 360 video with the GoPro Omni through the making of this video for Alaska Seafood. Hints and tips on how to get the best from shooting with this camera are provided from pre-post production.

Pre-Production

When preparing for a 360 video shoot it is important that you have all of the necessary kit with you. There is a lot more to think about than simply packing a camera and a couple of lenses. Here’s some top tips we learnt from our Alaska Seafood 360 shoot:

Pack enough media

With each camera capable of shooting 4K video, the GoPro Omni is hungry for card space. Therefore, if you’re planning on shooting a lot of content with the Omni it is important to make sure you carry sufficient cards.

For the Alaska Seafood video we ensured that we had a spare card for each of the six cameras so that we could continue shooting whilst the first batch of rushes were backing up. All cards were high capacity too at 32GB, giving us 40+ minutes of recording time at maximum resolution.

TOP TIP: Should you need more recording time, the Omni also takes 64GB cards which will give you 90+ minutes of recording time in the maximum resolution.

It’s important to make sure that all of your cards are the same capacity and formatted beforehand, as before mentioned all of the six cameras in the array are synchronised and so once one camera has reached capacity, they all stop recording.

For example, if one of your five cards is 16GB and the rest are 32GB then this will limit the recording for the whole rig. Likewise, if one card isn’t formatted and the others are then this will also affect the filming.

Have a replacement backup GoPro

In the unfortunate event that one of the GoPros become damaged, which for us was likely in an environment like Alaska, it is important that you have a spare camera as the Omni will not continue to work with only 5 cameras.

It is also worth noting that the Omni is only compatible with the GoPro Hero4 Black cameras so do not try installing another model of camera into this rig as this will cause an array error which will halt the rig’s ability to record.

Finally, the spare camera must also contain the GoPro Omni camera firmware, you can find instructions from GoPro on how to do this here.

Sale
GoPro HERO 7 Black
  • HyperSmooth Video Stabilization Get gimbal like stabilization without the gimbal. HERO7 Black...
  • Time Warp Video Capture super stabilized time lapse videos while you move about a scene. Increase...
  • Super Photo: Get the best photos automatically. With Super Photo, HERO7 Black intelligently applies...
  • Rugged + Waterproof: Share experiences you can't capture with your phone. HERO7 Black is rugged,...
  • Voice Control: Stay in the moment. Control your HERO7 Black hands free with voice commands like...

Make sure you choose the appropriate grip equipment for your shoot

During the pre-production phase of the Alaska Seafood video we knew that many of our shots would be filmed on a fishing boat in choppy seas so we needed to make sure that we had the appropriate grip equipment to secure the camera rig during filming. This consisted of heavy-duty monopod bases and magic arms, and cable ties.

In terms of mounting the Omni to you can do so through the industry-standard ¼’’-20 screw thread located at several points on the Omni. Be sure to have several thread adaptors if you’re planning on using a variety of grip equipment with the Omni.

It is important to note here that grip equipment for 360 filming is somewhat different to grip equipment that you would find on a traditional video shoot. For example, because the GoPro Omni is recording a 360 space, whatever grip equipment you connect to the camera rig will be in shot, right? This is partially correct, here’s a few tips:

  • For bulkier equipment, like a tripod for instance, 360 filming is impossible as the cameras towards the ‘bottom’ of the rig will only see the tripod head and legs.

  • The narrower the grip equipment, a monopod for example, the better as you can hide the equipment between the cameras ‘stitch lines’.

  • A stitch line is where the field of views of several cameras meet and overlap, creating a void where your grip equipment can sit.

For the Alaska Seafood video we connected the GoPro Omni to a monopod which was hidden perfectly between the stitch lines. As the audience look down the only thing they can see is the monopod’s baseplate which we ‘plated’ out in the edit (see post-production section for notes on plating).

Get creative with where you place your audience

What do you want your audience to see, and from what angle? Although a monopod is great for static shots on the ground, you may want to place your audience somewhere really cool.

For example, there is a scene in the Alaska Seafood video where we mounted the camera rig above a trap door so you could see our subjects loading the fishing nets from the first floor of a warehouse into their truck on the ground floor below. This keeps it interesting for the audience and doesn’t result in every shot looking the same.

We achieved this shot by rigging the GoPro Omni to a magic arm which was suspended above the trap door. Like the tripod, the magic arm was hidden between the Omni’s stitch lines. The magic arm grip was removed in post-production.

Furthermore, we also rigged a 360 camera to the wing of a seaplane – capturing breathtaking views from an unusual vantage point.

Test the camera rig before you leave for the shoot

This is something we cannot recommend enough. As intuitive as the GoPro Omni rig is it is important to remember that these are GoPros and not Arri Alexa’s. With that in mind be sure to check that the rig is working correctly before you leave. Ask yourself the following:

  • Are all of the cards working properly?

  • Do any of the lenses have scratches on them which could affect your shot? Don’t forget – 360 cameras see everything.

  • Are all of the cameras sync’d (this can be found by checking the master camera for a message that says ‘Array ready’.

  • Are all cameras secure in the rig? If one camera is loose you will see part of the 360 video wobbling. The GoPro Omni rig is generally pretty stable but check out what happens should this problem occur here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FRDkY4pHI0

Label each of the cameras by number

Before your shoot we’d recommend that you physically number each of the cameras so that these are easy to identify when DIT’ing your footage. Backing up multiple cards from six cameras can get rather messy and the clearer it is the more efficient the post-production process will be.

Pack tweezers for handling media

This may seem like an odd tip but one we’d definitely advise you to heed. Once all of the GoPros are secured in the Omni it can be very fiddly to insert / eject the SD cards.

We brought a pair of tweezers with us which made the process of recycling cards in the array a lot smoother. When you’re trying to eject cards on a choppy fishing boat it was important that we had a firm grasp of those cards. If one was lost it’s game over.

Sale
GoPro HERO6 Black - Waterproof Digital Action Camera for Travel with Touch Screen 4K HD Video 12MP Photos
  • HERO6 Black automatically sends your footage to your phone where the app turns it into a QuikStory...
  • With 4K60 and 1080p240 video,HERO6 Black delivers 2x the performance compared to HERO5 BlackWith an...
  • With our most advanced video stabilization yet, HERO6 Black captures super smooth footage, whether...
  • Now featuring touch zoom and an updated UI, the 2 inch display makes it easy to frame shots, change...
  • Featuring 5GHz Wi Fi, you can copy photos and videos over to your phone 3x faster than with HERO5...

Production

Let’s look at some of the pointers to consider when in Production itself.

Best settings for the GoPro Omni

When shooting with the GoPro Omni, it’s important that your cameras are set up correctly to achieve the highest quality video and easiest post-production workflow.

What is amazing about the rig is that once you have set the master camera’s settings, the array will set the other five cameras to the exact same settings automatically.

Recording on the master camera will also trigger all other cameras to record at exactly the same time to ensure that all of your footage will sync perfectly in post-production. You can see more of this in GoPro’s product video.

There are several factors to consider when setting up the GoPros for 360 video as they are not set as you typically would for a traditional video. A few general things to note:

  • The aspect ratio should be 4:3 opposed to the favoured 16:9 ratio used most often these days. This helps with stitching the images later in post-production.

  • Higher frame rates than the standard 25p/ 24p are also better for successful syncing in post-production.

  • The colour profile and white balance should be set to Flat & Native as this helps with stitching the shots together.

  • Sharpness also has a part in stitching – high sharpness is not advised as this will make the stitch lines more prominent which will break the ‘’illusion’’ of the 360 video.

Here’s our recommended settings for the GoPro Omni for each video output. For our Alaska Seafood 360 video we shot for optimum 8K video output:

For optimum 8K video output:

  • Resolution: 2.7K
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Frame Rate: 30fps
  • Colour Profile: Flat
  • White Balance: Native
  • Sharpness: Medium or Low
  • Protune: On

For 5.5K video output:

  • Resolution: 1440p
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Frame Rate: 30fps
  • Colour Profile: Flat
  • White Balance: Native
  • Sharpness: Medium or Low
  • Protune: On

For 4K video output:

  • Resolution: 960p
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Frame Rate: 30fps
  • Colour Profile: Flat
  • White Balance: Native
  • Sharpness: Medium or Low
  • Protune: On

Setting up the GoPro Omni for a shot

When setting up a shot on the GoPro Omni there are a few things to remember. First of all, make sure your monopod has a heavy-duty base, especially when filming on uneven surfaces. The Omni rig has cameras on each side so if your array topples over it will scratch a lens and once that happens the 360 video dream is over.

Secondly, make sure the surface you are leaving the Omni on is plateable. Although the shaft of the monopod disappears within the stitch lines you’ll still need to remove the base of the monopod in post-production. Therefore, choose your surface wisely.

Surfaces such as grass, concrete and gravel are perfect for this as they can be easily ‘plated’ (see post-production section) later. Surfaces with a complex design like a quirky carpet are more challenging for removing the monopod base.

Another thing to note when setting up your shot is to keep people and objects typically two metres from the camera. Any closer and the camera’s stitch lines become more prominent resulting in warping, distortion and ghosting on the camera. See below.

Finally, if you can see the GoPro Omni from where you’re standing it can see you. In other words, if you don’t want to make a cameo appearance in your own 360 video set up the GoPro Omni and hide in a place it can’t see you.

On location in the Alaska Seafood video, the crew hid inside the cabin of the fishing boats and behind bushes in the scenery shots. You learn to get creative with this.

Powering your GoPro Omni

As you can imagine, six GoPros recording simultaneously requires a lot of power to keep going, especially as these little cameras only have a battery life of 45 minutes. We’d recommend buying a few external power packs with several USB ports to keep you going.

External power packs can increase the battery life of the GoPros to two hours! This was perfect for our Alaska Seafood shoot as we could not keep going back to land every 45 minutes to charge the GoPro batteries.

The GoPro Omni comes with long USB cables so these can be connected to external power packs, wrapped around the monopod shaft and hidden within a stitch line.

Get creative with your shots

Because 360 video production is a somewhat new video medium of filmmaking you quickly learn to use your initiative and get creative. For example, on the fishing boat we used some heavy boat chains we found to stop the GoPro Omni’s monopod falling over during choppy waters.

You may be thinking, why not use a sandbag? Well, should the audience look down during this scene at least it is an authentic prop found on fishing boats rather than something alien to the environment like a sandbag for instance.

GoPro HERO5 Black Waterproof Digital Action Camera w/ 4K HD Video & 12MP Photo (Renewed)
  • Stunning 4K video and 12MP photos in Single, Burst and Time Lapse modes. Charger not included
  • Durable by design, HERO5 Black is waterproof to 33ft (10m) without a housing
  • Additional GoPro HERO5 Black Features + Benefits below on item page. Time Lapse Photo Intervals:...
  • Preview and playback your shots, change settings and trim your footage, all on your GoPro.

Post- Production

The post-production phase of 360 video production can be a little off-putting to some filmmakers as it’s quite labour intensive and requires a powerful computer to stitch and edit the footage together – especially if you’re exporting an 8K video!

That being said, the GoPro Omni is one of the cameras on the market that makes the post-production process as simple as possible. A lot of it is down to how the video was shot too.

For example:

  • Did the camera operator shoot at the optimal settings?

  • Did they keep subjects/ objects two metres from the camera?

  • Did they hide their grip equipment within the stitch lines carefully?

If these aren’t carefully considered then it can make editing your video rather stressful. Here is a step-by-step guide to editing your Omni footage:

Step One: Stitching Your Footage

Once your rushes have been backed up you can begin importing them into GoPro’s own synchronisation/ stitching software, the GoPro Omni Importer. Click ‘locate footage’ and watch the Omni Importer automatically work out the shots from each camera with a pre-stitched preview. It’s very quick and intuitive, saving you a lot of time in post.

TOP TIP: It’s important to note that this stitch won’t be absolutely perfect every time, it all depends on how well the video was shot and what the environment was like at the time, for example, if your footage is quite dark it may have troubles stitching this.

However, from here GoPro Omni Importer gives you the opportunity to tweak the pre-stitched preview by controlling factors such as stabilisation, colour harmonisation and type of stitch line blending.

Step Two: Editing Your Footage Into A Sequence

Once you are happy with the GoPro Omni Importer’s stitch you can choose to render your clip out in 2K, 4K, or full 8K resolution (Cineform 422) depending on which settings you used to shoot your 360 video.

Note: We exported the Alaska Seafood video clips out in 4K as this was due to be the final output of the video.

Once exported from Omni Importer these renders can then be imported into Premiere where you can begin cutting your sequence of clips. We recommend adding in crossfades between each scene as hard cuts can be quite disorientating for your audience.

Crossfades signal a change in scene or time period which is a lot less confusing for the audience consuming a 360 video.

Step Three: Plating Your Video

Once your 360 video is signed off the very last stage of the post-production process should be plating. This is the process where you remove any grip equipment in shot that was not hidden within the stitch line.

In the case of our Alaska Seafood video we had to plate the monopod base out in each shot as well as the magic arm grip and boom microphone. This can be time consuming if you have a lot of shots but is absolutely necessary if you don’t want to ruin the VR illusion.

TOP TIP: Many 360 filmmakers slap their company logo over the grip equipment in post-production. This is a slightly lazier way of hiding unwanted grip equipment in shot but is also fine if you’re stuck for time.

We decided, however, to plate the equipment properly and used After Effects to do this. You can find tips on how to use After Effects for your 360 video edits here. If you’re using the GoPro Omni to make 360 stills then you can also use Photoshop to plate your images.

Finally, always make plating your final task on the 360 video though as it is time consuming and you only want to plate the shots that will 100% make the final edit.

Here’s the finished product:

Working With Your GoPro Omni – Conclusion

Shooting with the GoPro Omni can initially be quite daunting but as this review shows, it is an intuitive camera rig that makes the whole process easy from its accurate multi-camera syncing on location to its accurate multi-camera stitching in post-production.

As long as the above factors are taken into consideration in terms of kit preparation, organisation and 360 rule discipline, then your shoot with the GoPro Omni should be successful.