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Keeping a level head

This is about one of the more underrated aspects of taking a good 360 picture. It’s one that’s criminally overlooked by a lot of people. It’s keeping a level head. Tripod head that is.

Imagine the situation, VR helmet on, immersed in the moment, the scene pops up and you move your head around. The scene moves down subtly as you turn. Was it a trick? Try again, no, it still drops away. The human brain is incredibly sensitive at pickling things up that are just “not right”. A subtly sloping picture is one of those things that it’s good at picking up.

So what do you do? Simple. Use a bubble level. Regardless of camera used, the chances are your tripod, and we’re assuming you’re using a tripod for 360 picture creation, will have some sort of bubble level on it. That’s OK to use but you’re still left to fiddle about with the legs on the tripod to try and get the bubble in the middle of the bullseye. What a faff. If you didn’t know about these pieces of equipment, allow us to tell you a little secret, we use a leveller. They’re great little things, check the pictures below.

The tools for the job

Get the tripod relatively level and use one of these atop to fine-tune the level of the head so you’re confident that any pictures you take are going to be horizontal where it counts. When you’re processing a 360 picture the software can only compensate so much for a wonky horizon and it’s not advisable to start cropping and realigning the source pictures to level prior to stitching. The key thing in your workflow is to get it right, or as near as dammit right, first time. This way when it comes to processing the pictures into the correct format no time is wasted effing and jeffing at the computer as you try and tweak things in post.

Key lessons

Key thing to take away is that preparation is key. Eliminate errors or sources of errors at the start of your process and you’ll find things pass through a whole lot easier. Right, time to take some pictures!