Reorienting a 360 video in Final Cut Pro

Reorienting a 360 video in Final Cut Pro

When first playing a 360 video in VR, the audience is provided with an initial orientation. Setting a suitable starting viewpoint in the video is useful for engaging the viewer in the story, and it can be determined in the post processing phase of the project

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Categories:Create & Build
Tags:360 VideoPost ProductionVideo Editing
Skill Level:

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Updated 11/30/2022


When starting a 360 video in VR, the audience is provided with an initial viewpoint. Typically the viewpoint would be a natural forward facing orientation in the video. This orientation should be a very intentional choice intended to engage viewers in the story immediately. During the process of capturing 360 video the camera may not have been positioned with the ideal orientation, so the key action may begin to one side from where someone first looks. Additionally, after viewing the 360 video during the editing process, it may be useful to modify that entry point orientation for the purposes of the story. This is an easy post processing step.

It is also important to consider and manage the view orientation of different clips in a sequence, so when cutting from one clip to another the audience won’t have to keep turning around to find the key action. Going further, if there are clips of a scene shot from different vantage points, remember to adjust the view orientation of each clip so that they fit with the mental map the audience will build up of the virtual space they’re seeing.

The default direction of a 360 video clip, the direction the viewer sees before they start looking around, is referred to as its native orientation. Changing this is known as reorienting, and it can be for reasons as simple as wanting to place a different part of the scene in the native orientation – done by changing the pan value of a clip in 360 space. (This is not the same as changing the view orientation in the 360 viewer; that simulates someone turning their head rather than altering the footage itself.)


The process of reorienting a clip is very simple. Select it in the timeline, show the Video Inspector in the Inspector area on the right-hand side of the Final Cut Pro window, and look for the Reorient panel. The Pan control is all you should need for this; the Tilt and Roll controls affect how the footage is leveled rather than which area is in the center of the viewer.

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Do this with every clip that doesn’t have the center of interest in the correct logical position, or if the clips are from different locations and need to be set to the same effective compass heading to work with the end user’s expectations.

Animated reorienting

It is extremely rare to need to animate the orientation over time as the effect could be very uncomfortable for those viewing the footage immersively in a headset. (See ‘To move or not to move’ for a related discussion about moving scenes.) However, if you do come up with a rare justification for doing this it’s a relatively simple process; position the timeline playhead at the right moment and use the Add a Keyframe icon next to the Pan control in the Reorient panel. Adjust the parameters and repeat as required at different points in time.

To see the keyframes in the timeline and be able to drag them to fine-tune their timing, select the clip in the timeline and choose Clip > Show Video Animation. The clip in the timeline will expand and the keyframes will show in the Reorient row. Click to select, then drag to reposition or use the Backspace key to delete.

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Reorienting all parameters

As well as using the pan controls to slide a scene’s native orientation around, tilt and roll can be used to correct leveling issues that would otherwise disorient the audience. This doesn’t mean leveling cameras isn’t important any more, but it can rescue shots that aren’t straight. For more details about this including using a custom grid for checking alignment see Leveling a 360 video in Final Cut Pro.