Editing VR Photography (360º photos) with After Effects

Photography and Design by Codify Design Studio.

by Chris Converse

posted on 03-09-2018

Though virtual reality still seems like a far-off technology designed for gamers, we’re actually using the beginnings of this technology everyday — on social media sites. If you’ve seen a friend’s Facebook post that contains a photo you can rotate, this is a virtual reality (VR) image.

While more immersive interactive games and experiences are not quite as commonplace, 360-degree photography is already here. And, like most photographers with a new toy, the first thing I wanted to do with my 360-degree photos was manipulate them.

Sometimes referred to as a spherical panorama, these images appear “flattened,” or “unwrapped,” when you load them in an image editing environment. What’s more, removing the tripod, or yourself, in addition to adding logos and artwork is just about impossible when working in an unwrapped view.

The example above shows the enhanced version of the VR photo with a new sky, a sunset (see Dazzling Light Effects for Photography with After Effects), color adjustments, and a logo — all while maintaining the spherical nature of the original photo.

Introducing the VR Comp Editor

Introduced in the 2018 version of After Effects CC, the VR Comp Editor allows you to “wrap” your VR photo back into a sphere while you make your edits. The more straightforward use of this feature includes seamlessly removing elements from the image, including tripods and other unwanted objects.

The VR Comp Editor can be activated from the Window menu within After Effects. Once activated, the editor allows you to add edits to your unwrapped panorama. These edits, in turn, create additional compositions that allow for navigating within the spherical panorama — similar to that of standard spherical viewers.

More advanced uses of this feature allow you to introduce new two-dimensional (2D) artwork into your VR photo. The VR Comp Editor will then manipulate the 2D artwork to match the contours of the spherical image. This makes the new artwork appear as though it was present in the environment when the photo was taken.

As you can imagine, transforming your artwork or logo to match the spherical contours of the original photo would be impossible without the help of a feature like the VR Comp Editor. (Be sure to watch the recorded webinar for a step-by-step demonstration.)

More After Effects tips for photography

Want more tips? Check out these related articles that will get your photos looking great with After Effects.

Create Intricate Transparency in Your Photographs with Keying in After Effects

Dazzling Light Effects for Photography with After Effects

Watch these features in action

Join Chris Converse in the recorded webinar and learn to use the amazing effects in After Effects to enhance your photographs. Make images more dramatic, add special effects, and generate patterns and textures that are simply not possible in other Creative Cloud apps.

In this session you’ll learn:

Adobe Creative Cloud e-learning series:
After Effects for Photography

Topics: Creativity, Photography

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud