Lately I’ve been shooting with the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4k camera for both VR and the planetarium dome. Shooting with dual cameras is great for capturing 360°, but shooting with a single camera is sometimes easier since the footage doesn’t need to be stitched. Also a single camera captures 235° which is a surprisingly huge FOV. Yet it’s necessary to warp the footage from fisheye to spherical so that it can be experienced in VR or Youtube 360.
The ‘Pixpro SP360 4k’ software is actually capable of warping a single camera from fisheye to spherical. But it’s not intuitive (here is a tutorial) and the Kodak software can only export footage to MP4… And seeing as how the raw camera footage is an already heavily compressed MP4, I wasn’t thrilled about this added lossy step. So I figured out a simple technqiue.
If you’re wondering… the terms Spherical, Equirectangular, and LatLong refer to the EXACT same thing.
Tutorial using After Effects CS6 without plugins
— This technique is a hack and the warping isn’t ideal for all occasions. Yet it really depends on whether your fisheye lens is equidistant or equisolid angle. Equidistant fisheye lenses can get a near perfect conversion using this technique. But equisolid angle fisheye lenses are unique and therefore this technique cannot provide an accurate conversion. The technique still works for equisolid angle fisheye lenses but parts of the image will look slightly stretched or squashed vertically when viewed in VR or Youtube 360. For instance, the SP360 4k camera has an equisolid angle fisheye lens and yet it’s the camera I used in this tutorial and achieved decent results. On that note, I actually haven’t been able to confirm from any official Kodak specs that the SP360 4k camera indeed uses a equisolid angle fisheye lens, but it seems pretty obvious when comparing renders from this After Effects technique against the ‘Pixpro SP360 4k’ warping software.
— You cannot use gaussian blur, sharpen, or such effects since they would create very obvious seams when viewed in VR or Youtube 360. But you could instead use the Skybox 360 Post FX since they are seamless VR effects.
— If you need to adjust the horizon level, then you’ll need to instead use the RE:Lens plugin or Skybox Studio V2 which provides much better controls and proper conversion tools.
DOWNLOAD: Fisheye FOV Guide
required to complete tutorial
Spherical to Fisheye Conversion
Or if you need to convert spherical to fisheye (so it can be watched in a dome) then the same process can be applied in reverse. But you’ll need to scale up the footage to crop out some of the unwanted FOV and unfortunately it’s a lossy conversion since it’s being uprezzed. Also you cannot change the FOV accurately, it’s just a very basic conversion. Although a perfect conversion can be achieved using a plugin from this list.
Update: After Effects – VR Tools
The latest version of After Effects now has VR tools built-in. It’s simply to work with and also gives you much better controls. I don’t have the latest version installed, but the basic setup goes like this:
— Apply the ‘VR Converter’ effect to your fisheye comp
— Input: Fisheye (FullDome)
— Output: Equirectangular 2:1