The answer to your 360 video stitching woes

We recently hosted a studio opening party where we shot footage of our wonderful attendees in 360/VR degree fashion.  We picked up our GoPro rig at an undetermined point, tied fishing line around it, and hung it by the ceiling as those below it ate, drank, and pointed up at the swaying alien disco ball of cameras.  Upon attempting to edit said footage this morning we quickly discovered we had gone and woken a monster of potential stitching issues that, after a full day's work, deemed the footage completely unusable.

If you're also looking to not waste time and footage, this quick fix should help in that department.

What we're workin' with:

But regardless of what software you choose, it all starts with camera placement.

After some investigating we discovered yes, it does actually matter how your GoPro rig is oriented.  We attempted to stitch our faulty footage several times using lens models, the RMS curves and even template stitching, all methods that have proven helpful in former outdoor shoots.

This time we were dealing with indoor footage and the cameras had a hard time determining the horizon line.  And in case you hadn't noticed, 5 of the 7 should cameras align with the horizon if you tilt the rig at just the right angle. And it turns out that aligning these 5 cameras to the horizon is imperative to making for a seamless stitching process.  This recent article/video addresses this very discovery.  And to make us feel a little better about ourselves, the video is introduced with the line "This is the video we wished we had when we were starting out."  Were our difficulties with the stitching process linked to improper alignment? Fortunately we had an event photographer on hand that night. As you can see by the photo she captured, the GoPros (the alignment of which is illustrated by the dashed line) were nowhere close to being aligned with the horizon (the alignment of which is illustrated by the solid line).

Lesson learned.

Summary: Don't waste time, horizon lines matter, 360 video is still in infant form.  Let's help each other out.