Edit 360 photos on mobile

First question. Why would you want to edit 360 photos on your mobile?

Facebook have recently added the functionality to their mobile platform to upload and share 360 photos. This means you can share an immersive experience of your travels and friends.

What does it take

As it turns out, not much. Start with your 360 photo and upload via your mobile device. Facebook will recognise your 360 photo, and boom there it is:

To see the embedded 360 content, click through the above image
(opens in a new window)

Because I like to keep things simple, I shoot with the Theta S and edit 360 photos on an iPhone. This basically means I can take the image, edit and post it all from the same location.

Edit 360 photos on mobile

Recently Eric Cheng published a note on Facebook tackling how to edit 360 photos and consequently inject the missing metadata that is striped out during some editing processes. Eric’s process involves editing the 360 photos on photoshop.

However, I don’t always have the time to edit my photos in editing software like Photoshop, and like to edit on the fly using the powerful mobile apps that are available. So I started to explore what was possible in order to edit 360 photos on mobile.

In the Edit // Generally I will use VSCO on my mobile device to edit any photo. Why? Well it gets the basics right and has an easy interface to use on mobile.

I have found that you are able to edit 360 photos in VSCO, tweak all the elements you’d like to (similar to editing normal photos on Instagram). Bonus feature is you can export out at the original resolution, so it won’t try and re-format your photo for mobile in any way. And that’s important, as it preserves the metadata.

Why is metadata important? //  Usually, metadata contains boring information about the device you captured the image on or even geo-location of where you took the photo. In the case of 360 photos it lets platforms such as Youtube and Facebook know this is a 360 photo and is displayed differently.

If that metadata is deleted from the image, as some processes strip it out, Youtube and Facebook are no longer able to tell if it is a 360 photo, hence why it is displayed as a strange looking regular image.

Fortunately, the process I have outlined above with VSCO, maintains the crucial metadata.


Upload to Facebook via the mobile app

Troubleshooting // The process isn’t perfect, but I have a solution which works with my set up.

When you reach the stage of uploading the image to Facebook via the mobile app, all being well, you will see the ‘360’ icon in the bottom right of your selected 360 photo (see image left).

If the exported image doesn’t display the ‘360’ icon, that means the metadata hasn’t been saved.

But worry not!

I was able to go back into the Theta S app on my phone, browse to my images in my camera roll, as if I was going to share my photo to Theta’s own 360 network (yes they have one).

At that point the image I select in the Theta S is recognised as a 360 photo. Exit the Theta S app.

Return to your Facebook app on your phone, re-select the 360 photo you wanted to share, and boom there it is.

Summary of the Process

  1. Edit in VSCO
  2. Export original resolution
  3. Upload to Facebook via the mobile app (make sure the ‘360’ icon is displayed)
  4. [OPTION] Open your 360 photo in Theta S app to ensure metadata is added to your photo
  5. Sit back enjoy your beautiful 360 photo

Learn more

If you’re interested in learning more about 360 photos on Facebook, and you definitely should.

Check out Facebook’s dedicated site to all things ‘Facebook 360‘. They helpfully break down how to upload and share your 360 photos and what devices you can get if you want to up your game.

Alternately, they have a Facebook Group where you can explore the work of other people sharing their experiences and 360 photos.

For more of my work on 360 photos, please follow me on Facebook.

Winning at 360º video

Over the last year, there’s been a lot of noise surrounding 360º video. Some has been speculation around it’s long term survival, will it just be another short-lived trend? And others have been praising, but there’s been little widespread uptake. Instead it’s been limited to just a few specialist brands and filmmakers, and those who’ve gotten into it are winning at 360º video.

In this article I will highlight a few of the people absolutely crushing it in the world of 360º video. In my opinion, it’s predominantly the bold who are winning at 360º video at the moment. From experience it’s not an easy format to work with as you’ve immediately lost the ability to frame your shot and it is immediately obvious that changes how you construct your narrative.

Worst of all, there’s nowhere to hide…

Winning at 360º video

1 // Corridor Digital

Whilst that’s an extremely daunting prospect not being able to hide from the lens, the team at Corridor Digital used that problem to their advantage. Their ‘Where’s Waldo’ 360º video addresses that head on by using their environment as their stage.

If you’ve a burning desire to see how they planned it all out, watch their Behind the Scenes.

2 // National Geographic

If performance = art, then Mother Nature is the greatest performer of all time. National Geographic have been pioneering in their field for decades, 360º video is no different. Their approach is true to their brand and in 360ºs it is formidable.

You’ll want to watch this one a few times to take in all the glory of the Victoria Falls. Whilst you’re at it check out their other 360º video on the National Geographic Facebook page.

3 // Fun for Louis

Speaking of pioneering, if vlogging wasn’t good enough for you, try 360º vlogging.

Over the past 3-5 years, vlogging has been carving its niche and building its popularity. Dubbed the Godfather of vlogging, Louis Cole (Fun for Louis) has evolved his craft to include 360º video, and its a pleasure. Just another way to immerse the audience that little more.

Future of 360º video

It is very possible you are still unconvinced by 360º video. Whilst its engaging and new, does that mean it will be around in a year’s time?

Facebook and Youtube definitely seem to think so. Facebook announced this week they are looking to bring 360º photos to the newsfeed on desktop and mobile. That makes a lot of sense as Facebook owns Oculus (the Virtual Reality headset manufacturing firm), whilst 360º video has been available on Facebook since September 2015.

Youtube have likewise had 360º video on their platform since last year, but they’ve gone one step further. It needed to happen, but LIVE 360º VIDEO is here, and I couldn’t be more excited!


360º Video is Now

Yep, 360º video is now… Doesn’t seem like anything new, and you’d be right, it’s not.

I remember all those rubbish ‘experiences’ at Science museums when I was younger, trying to give you the 360/ 3D experience. And then we have VR headsets, but this is something else.

Go Mobile

What has truly made 360º videos pop has been two things.

Facebook and YouTube have invested in the format. Almost overnight these two companies have ensured their platforms are relatively easy to upload 360º videos to.

But where they really shine is on mobile devices.

For a while, we’ve seen the growing trend that people are interacting with Facebook and YouTube via mobile. This is the right place to roll out new features to keep them hooked.

360º on mobile takes full advantage of the devices sensors to allow you to move around the video with out clunky mouse movements. If you tilt the device, the video tilts.

…where they really shine is on mobile


Suddenly 360º recording devices are affordable. Yeah, I know they are in reach of us mere mortals.

The Ricoh Theta S is around $350. This makes it cheap enough to become one of the gadgets in your toolkit.

Added bonus is it is a realistic size. No bigger than your mobile device and easier to use.

Why 360º Video is Now

Four buttons…that’s it. On/Off, Wifi, Photo/Video and Shoot. No instructions needed.

You are able to upload your 360º videos straight into Facebook and YouTube without any complicated editing methods. The metadata is recorded straight into the video file, so the platforms recognise it is 360º, and you’re done.

Without the adoption by FB and YT, and the availability of affordable technology, 360º video would be the mainstay of highly skilled production companies and sure to die a death in tacky ‘educational’ science demos.