How to Make Video Panoramas from Your Digital Camera’s Video Clips

This page will show you how you can make a videorama using Final Cut Pro. We also have a tutorial that uses Flash instead.

Before you get started, be sure to take a gander at our sample videorama so you know what we’re making.

What You’ll Need

You’ll need Apple’s Final Cut Pro to follow along. Don’t have it? You can buy it, buddy up with someone who has it, use it at a computer lab, or check out the Flash version of this tutorial.

We’ll be using Final Cut Pro HD 4.5, but if you have a different version the steps should be pretty similar.

Step 1: Shoot Your Videos

To start you’re going to need two or more video clips to stitch together.

When shooting, we recommend using a tripod for best results. Simply point at a scene, record some video, then rotate the tripod a bit — overlapping slightly with your previous shot — and record another cip. You’ll want to capture roughly the same amount of footage with each clip. (For more varied results, leave the tripod at home and just hold the camera.)

In addition to moving the camera left and right, experiment with overlapping up and down as well. You can even try taking your footage at different times of the day; watch time pass as different subjects move from day to night, or record the sun setting through several frames.

If you’re shooting all your videos together, you’ll want to adjust your camera settings so that the videos match nicely. Look for exposure and white balance settings in your video mode and lock them down so they don’t change from video to video. Just as you would when setting up shots for a traditional panorama, remember to consider the scene as a whole and set the exposure for the brightest part of what you’ll shoot.

Check out our panographies tutorial for more tips on shooting for stitching.

Step 2: Setting up Final Cut Pro

Final Cut has lots (and lots) of windows. To make this tutorial easier to follow, we’re going set it up so that it’s arranged in the same way as you’ll see in the screenshots.

To do this, select “Window” -> “Arrange” -> “Standard” from the menubar.
Standard view should look like this. You’ll have three windows up top: the Browser (where your files are), the Viewer (where you manipulate individual files), and the Canvas (where you manipulate your movie as a whole). Below these three windows is the Timeline where your audio and video tracks will be laid.

Next, start a new project by selecting “File” -> “New Project” from the menubar and save it. (“File” -> Save Project as…”)

Step 3: Importing your videos

In the Browser window, right click and select “Import” then “Files…”

Browse for the videos you want to stitch together (Shift + click to select multiple) and click “Choose”.

Your videos should now be in the Browser window.

Step 4: Move your videos to the canvas

Click and drag a video from the Browser window to your Canvas window. When you have your video hovering over the Canvas window a colorful menu with options will appear. Drop the video on the “Superimpose” option. Repeat this for each video clip.

Your videos should now overlap in the Canvas window and in the Timeline window.

Step 5: Arranging Videos

Now that you’ve got all your videos on the Canvas window, it’s time to arrange them.

From the drop down menu at the top of the Canvas window, select “Image + Wireframe”. This will create a blue outline around your clips. Now you can click and drag them around so that they no longer overlap.

Next, you’ll lower the opacity of your video clips so that they’ll reveal overlapping footage below and are easier to align.

Double-click a video from the Canvas window so that it’ll load in the Viewer window. From the Viewer window, go to the Motion tab (far right) and then lower the opacity settings. We knocked it down to 70 but you can adjust it to whatever you think works best for your videos.

In addition to making our videos easier to align, transparency gives our videorama an interesting ghosting effect. In our example, we’ll leave the videos slightly transparent to preserve it.

Step 6: Making it all fit / Stitching

Now you’ll need to resize your videos so that they fit in your Sequence.

You can do this either by making the Sequence larger or by making your videos smaller. This all depends on your preference, and for this tutorial we’re actually going to do both.

To make your Sequence larger select “Sequence” -> “Settings…” from the menubar. (If “Settings…” is greyed out and unclickable, click on one of your movies in the Canvas or Timeline and then try again.)

In the Sequence Settings window that appears, you can select a Custom “Aspect Ratio” and then enter your Frame Size. For this example, we’ll use 720×300 for a more rectangular panoramic feel. If you plan on uploading this video to a video sharing site such as Vimeo or You Tube you’ll probably want to stick to a square Sequence.

Now that your Sequence is at its final size, you’ll need to resize your video clips so they’ll fit comfortably inside. To make a video clip smaller, make sure you’re still in “Image + Wireframe” mode and hover the mouse over one of the white corners of a video until the cursor changes to a crosshair. Now you can hold Shift (to maintain your aspect ratio) and drag to shrink your clip.

Go ahead and resize and move your videos around to line them up. (Here’s what ours looked like when we were done).

Step 7: Cleaning up the Timeline

Since each of your videos will have slightly different durations (you can see this in the Timeline view you’ll need to trim them down to match up.

First, make sure you’re using the Selection tool from the bottom right toolbar. Now click and drag the end of each clip in the timeline to change its duration so they’re all lined up. This will automatically adjust the corresponding audio tracks as well.

Step 8: Audio

So now your video clips are assembled, lined up, ready to go. What about sound?

If you have only a few videos, the audio tracks shouldn’t be too overwhelming and you could leave them all as-is.

If you have more videos, all those audio tracks playing at once could sound a little confusing. Try whittling down to a few audio tracks you really like. Or, if your audio was mostly ambient noise (as it was in our park example) you could delete all the audio tracks except for one.

To do this, first lock all your video tracks by clicking the little padlock icon. This will prevent them from getting deleted when you delete the video clips’ corresponding audio tracks. Next select the audio tracks you want to get rid of and press the Delete key. Voila!

Step 9: Export and Enjoy!

Play your video a few times and make sure everything’s lined up and sounds the way you want it to. When you’re sure everything’s good to go, it’s time to share it with the world.

Select “File” -> “Export” -> “Using QuickTime Conversion…” from the menubar. In the window that appears enter a title for your movie and click “Options…”.

In the “Movie Settings” window that appears you can change the settings for how your video will be compressed. You can see the settings we suggest from this screenshot. You’ll want to play around with different compressions and sizes based on where you plan on using your video (smallest for email, small for the internet, large for keeping around for yourself.)

When you’re done changing the settings, click “OK” and then “Save” in the window underneath. Final Cut Pro will render and compress your video.

Congratulations! You just made your first videorama! Groovy.

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What Next?

  • Try composites of live subjects — create a videorama portrait to combine the many ‘faces’ of a friend.
  • Creative artist and programmer Ed Stastny does a lot of experimentation with video compositing. Check out his clips “Broken Time” or “West Burnside After Dark” for some inspiration.
  • Also check out this time lapse picture from daily dose of imagery for some inspiration on what you could do with time and light.
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