360 video is a great way to display your products on your e-commerce store. The problem with a static photo is that it doesn’t show the product in its entirety as you cannot see it from every angle. As a seller, this can be an issue, as customers may be put off from purchasing your product as they don’t know if the product will look the same in real life. You have a huge advantage with commercial 360-degrees video as it allows the customer to view your product in a 360 degrees spin.
Therefore, 360 video offers a better conversion rate into sales than a standard static photo as you are allowing the customer to see the product fully. They can make a better-informed purchasing and have full confidence in your product. Your customers will be able to have the in-store experience without having to leave their computer screen. This is why so many e-commerce retailers are making the shift toward 360 videos to show their products as it is far more interactive than a photo which shows the product from only one side.
Principles of 360 video
Although the end product appears as a video, 360 is actually clever photography – it’s a series of composite photographs stitched together. In order to make the 360 video of your product, you will need to have your camera mounted on a tripod while the product rotates on a 360 turntable. To create the video you will also need 360° viewing software which helps to render the final video.
How to make 360 video
So now that you know the basics, let’s go into more detail about the necessary equipment for shooting a 360 video.
When it comes to equipment, you don’t need a special 360 video camera. You can use the one you already have, but the camera should have manual mode. The reason for this is that your camera’s settings need to be fixed across your images from the shoot.
It’s essential that your photos are shot from the same height and angle, and are nice and stable for continuity purposes, so it’s mandatory for you to have a tripod. You don’t need any special tripod in particular, so definitely use the one you already have.
Again, it’s not obligatory to have a state-of-the-art turntable if you’re on a budget. Any photography turntable made of circular plexiglass will suffice. The transparent plastic is important as it gives the impression of the product floating in the final shot. If you have a generous budget, there are even turntable units with built-in lighting functions and indentations marked around the circumference of the turntable to assist in ensuring that each shot is evenly spaced.
A white photography sweep a.k.a. background paper is indispensable when it comes to any product shoot. This allows for a seamless white backdrop in your shots. These are inexpensive and easy to acquire.
Remote shutter release
You might be thinking why would I waste my money on a shutter release when I can take the photos manually? But the problem is that taking the photo by hand can cause the camera to move and this will ruin the consistency of your photos. In the final rotation, the images will jump about and the video will be completely disjointed. A remote-control shutter release solves this problem entirely, allowing for a flawless 360 video. All you have to do is stand back and click.
Like any product shoot, you will need good lighting to present your products in all their glory. So, strobe lights or continuous lights? Strobe lighting is a brilliant flash of momentary light and continuous lights are bright lights that stay on for the whole of the shoot. We would recommend continuous lighting as this will make for an easier shoot and ensure continuity across the shots.
As mentioned, you will need a 360 viewer to render the final video. There are several 360° video hosted viewers that come highly recommended such as Sirv, Amplience, and Adobe Experience Manager. A hosted viewer is a third-party platform that allows you to upload, house and serve your imagery onto your webpage using the software.
Non-hosted viewers function differently in that it’s a one-time purchase for a viewer code which you then integrate onto your website. Images would be hosted on a web server or CDN, which serves the images up to that viewer. Either option is good to use but non-hosted viewers are less expensive and are more development-friendly. The non-hosted viewers that we recommended are Magic360 and WebRotate360.
360 video tips
Here’s the rundown on some of our best 360-degree video tips.
Clean your products
This one is a no-brainer. Under the bright lights any little bits of dust will literally have a spotlight on them, so even if you think it’s not that noticeable, have your lint roller at the ready.
Place your product in the centre
Easy to miss, but difficult to fix. You might not even realise that your product is off-centre, or you might even think it’s not that big a deal, but this oversight will certainly make your video look distorted. An off-centre object placement can make the video wobble in the final rendering, so make sure it’s centred before you shoot. This will involve a bit of geometry so get out your ruler and protractors to find the centre. Once you’ve found the centre mark it with a piece of tape.
Make your shots evenly spaced
To make your shot evenly spaced you will need to make markings on the circumference of your turntable. You can buy turntables that come ready-made with indentations which will make your life easier and you can do away with the maths. If you don’t have a ready-marked turntable, you can make some reference points yourself. We recommend 36 or 72 evenly spaced reference points. You can put a measuring tape around the turntable and use this as a guide. If you want 36 points, divide the circumference by 36 and then use this as the measurement for each mark.
Choose how many shots you want to take
The standard is typically 24 frames when it comes to 360 video. The more frames, the smoother the video will be. Any less than 24 frames will make for a choppy rotation, which is not ideal. We would recommend anywhere between 24 and 72 frames for a smooth video. If in doubt, opt for 24 frames.
Turn the table clockwise
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with turning your table anti-clockwise, but the industry standard is to rotate your product clockwise. It’s always advisable to conform to the standard so you don’t jar the customer with your video.
The first shot should be your front-facing product
Again, this is the industry standard. It looks better to show your product from the front and then from the other angles in the 360 spin. It also helps you keep your images consistent.
Turn on manual mode
During your shoot, manual mode on your camera will be your best friend. Manual mode allows your camera settings to stay fixed and keep the same brightness in each shot.
Turn off AWB
Auto-white balance or AWB digitally regulates the colour in your photographs to remove any unrealistic casts. This is great for a singular static photo, but when you’re stitching multiple photos together this can be an issue – the AWB can vary from photo to photo taken from different angles and this will make the final video look disjointed. Turn off the AWB and switch to a fixed white balance setting instead.
Now that you know everything you need to know about 360 product videography, you can take the time to create an immaculate 360 video.
Don’t have the time to do it yourself?
Alternatively, Splento has a 360 video service for you that means you don’t have to lift a finger.
Many eCommerce sites have thousands of products, and to step-by-step work through the above to create a 360 video for each one is simply not cost-effective. For anything more than just a few products, it pays to employ a professional to create your product videos for you.
This can be done remotely or, more usually, where you are. And as professionals are set up to create the best results in the shortest time, you’ll have your product videos available within a day or so of shooting!
To learn more – and even get a free 360 video to try out – contact Splento using the form available on the page How to boost your eCommerce sales with 360 product video.