Interview: Giovanni Santacroce shares his recipe to create cool reframed spherical video!

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Reframing 360 content to create traditionally-framed video is quite easy and opens a world of creative possibilities! Giovanni Santacroce, Multimedia Producer at Ithaca College in the US created a very fun video that cleverly mixes footage captured with a standard camera and spherical content shot with the GoPro Omni:
We asked Giovanni a few questions to learn more about his work and the techniques used to create this video.
Hi Giovanni, what is your background and how did you come into videomaking?
I’m Giovanni Santacroce, and I am a Multimedia Producer at Ithaca College located in Ithaca, NY. Previously I was a commercial producer and a news videographer for a regional TV station. During that time, I began creating stories about artisans and covering events of extreme sports as a freelancer. 360 video has become a format that I enjoy producing, and I’m continuously inspired by what other creators are developing.
This year, Ithaca College is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding. The 360-degree shots seen in the Planet Ithaca video are just a glimpse of what we’ve captured for a VR experience we will be sharing with the college community later this year. Once I finalized my edits to the 360 shots in that story, I started creating the shots seen in the Planet Ithaca video.
Can you tell us more about the last video you shot for your the Ithaca College?
Planet Ithaca was a chance for us to have fun with the 360 footage we’ve been shooting for the 125th story. It was also a great opportunity for us to showcase new aerials shot on our Inspire 2 and the many visuals of campus I’d been shooting with the help of our student videographers throughout the year.
Where did you get the idea to use little planets and transitions and combine it with more “traditional” footage?
I had been wanting to do something with the little planet effect ever since I started working in the Autopano software suite. Our creative team thought it would be a fun challenge to make a video for the college that was strictly visuals and edits to a music track – something non-linear and more stylized by using the little planet effect. The final product turned out to be unlike anything I’ve ever produced for the college. Our stories are usually driven by the perspectives of the subjects we interview, and this became more of a hype video for the 125th. It was a fun experiment in repurposing footage to create an entirely different narrative.
Can you explain what kind of hardware and software you have used to capture this video?
My team jumped on the opportunity to order the GoPro Omni when the release date was announced. We wanted to invest in this form of storytelling at the college, and the Omni seemed like the right tool for the job. Once it was in my hands, I began experimenting. Having the external batteries was a necessity for our project. I was able to shoot an endless amount of time-lapse shots using multi-shot mode, which has proven to be a powerful way to capture the dramatic visuals of the campus.
The 360 aerials were obtained with our Omni attached to a Matrice 600 Hexacopter. We hired an operator from DCE IT Services to fly it for us. It’s been exciting to see the reactions from our viewers when they’re wearing a headset during those shots. It’s a neat way to view IC’s campus – it’s gorgeous on the ground in Ithaca, so seeing it from the sky is a unique and awe-inspiring perspective.
During post-production, I used Autopano Video 3.0, and Autopano Giga 4.4 – my stitches were then perfected using Mettle plugins in Adobe After Effects. From there I took my completed shots to Adobe Premiere Pro and used the GoPro VR Reframe plugin to manipulate each shot into a planet. Without Autopano Video 3.0, my stitches wouldn’t be as seamless as they turned out for these projects. In one of my shots, I have over 100 students in the frame crossing stitch lines between the six cameras. The corrections D.WARP made to that shot was extremely impressive, and it saved me a lot of masking time in post.
What is GoPro VR Reframe?
GoPro VR Reframe is a plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro CC that is included with Autopano Video. It allows you to create a traditionally-framed video out of a spherical video so you can create cool little planet effects but also camera movements in post-production.
Was it easy for you to switch from a traditional camera and workflow to the Omni and the 360 video workflow that comes with it?
What made the Omni workflow so easy was the Omni Importer software that comes included. It aided me in developing a folder structure that made quickly stitched shots possible during my review process. Thanks to batch rendering in Autopano Video, I was able to render a completed shot and immediately begin working on the next shot that needed editing. The entire Omni workflow made the project go more smoothly than I expected.
360 video / VR is very trendy these days, how do you think this new media will evolve in the future?
I think highly immersive experiences like 360/VR are only going to get better as the technology advances and becomes more accessible. It’s been exciting to tell a story using a format that our audience isn’t as familiar with viewing before hitting play. It’s a moment for the audience to become completely engaged in our work, and as a creator, I find the investment in the projects that can achieve that kind of interest from a viewer to be worthwhile. I think we’ll see audiences wanting to become more immersed in the content they enjoy by using VR technology. I’m hopeful that this trend continues because I believe storytellers can have more of an impact on their audience with technology like VR.
Any tips for someone who would like to start making 360 video?
Make something. Anything. Even if it’s a 30-second video of yourself running in circles around your cameras. Make mistakes, the Omni package makes production easy, but there is still a learning curve, shooting for 360 is a different beast. If you aren’t sure if parallax will be an issue during post-production, try different heights or distances between subjects while you’re out shooting. Especially if you can’t recreate the scene later on during production. Invest in an external hard drive before you begin a large project. I’ve captured nearly 8TB of content on the Omni so far. View your work in a headset as you’re testing. It doesn’t need to be an expensive one. You’ll be able to get a better idea of what your audience will be experiencing. Most importantly, have fun!
Thanks Giovanni!
Disclaimer: All graphics on this page are the sole property of Giovanni Santacroce and Ithaca College.
  • Deb Santacroce | Oct 1, 2017 at 19 h 04 min

    Notice the last name, yes this is my son, so talented, I am one proud Mom!

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