Linux – 360 degree video editing on Linux

I recently purchased a 360-degree camera that I have used a few times. It takes 360-degree spherical photos and also films in 360 degrees. It’s not the most expensive such camera, but it does a decent job shooting 360-degree panoramic videos.

However, I have run into a couple of problems with the resulting footage on Linux.

First, as is the case with pretty much any footage shot on your phone, it can be bumpy and really needs to be stabilized. I addressed this to some degree by purchasing a 3-axis gimbal, which minimizes the need for stabilization. However, the software I typically use on Linux for editing videos – Kdenlive – doesn’t do a great job stabilizing 360-degree video. Additionally, Kdenlive doesn’t have a profile for 360-degree video and simply recognizes it as an equilateral rectangular clip (1920×960, 27.90fps). It’s still possible to edit the video using Kdenlive, but it treats it as just a wide angle clip and not as 360-degree video. Otherwise, Kdenlive edits the video as if it was any normal video clip.

Second, when you render an edited 360-degree video file in Kdenlive, it loses the tag necessary to tell youtube (or a desktop player; see below) that the video is 360-degree footage. As a result, it’s necessary to re-add that tag before the video can be played back on your computer or uploaded to youtube. There is a python script that can do this but it only works under Windows or Mac. It was released by Google and the GUI version is available here. I run it on a virtual machine and it works fine. It would be nice to be able to simply edit the necessary tags in the video using something like VLC or FFMPEG or a command line in Linux, but I have been unable to find directions that explain how to do that at this point.

Third, there are issues with playback. Until just recently (as in the end of 2017), playback of 360-degree videos on Linux was not really possible. There wasn’t a video player that had this option. However, as of the 3.0.0 version of VLC, 360-degree video playback is now possible. (As a bonus, VLC can also open 360-degree images as well. I love VLC.) Of course, VLC 3.0.0 doesn’t ship with most current Linux distributions, so you’ll have to install it from their PPA nightly branch. With VLC 3.0.0, it is now possible to video 360-degree video on Linux.

What is really needed to streamline this process on Linux? If the awesome folks running Kdenlive could create a 360-degree video profile (at least as a rendering option) that includes the necessary spherical tag, that would mean I could skip step 2 above entirely. That would be awesome. I’d happily donate some money to them if they could make that happen.