Process overview

Setup and teardown takes me about 8-10 minutes per shot. I manually start all 18 cameras, then walk away from the rig and wait. The Xiaomi Yi isn't natively able to sync/genlock with other cameras to start all cameras at the same time; however, shooting at 60fps allows me to manually sync files in Adobe Premiere with a max time difference of 1/120th sec between shots.

I copy the files from each of 18 cameras to my external hard drive. I use a free batch file renaming utility to quickly label the source files. This is useful for keeping track of which shot came from which camera, and ensuring I have all 18 files for every shot.

I then load all 18 cameras' worth of video into a new Premiere project. Premiere is able to time-sync the clips automatically, and I trim off the excess video. I send this project to Adobe After Effects, where I use a free script to render a single frame from each clip.

With these 18 image files, I use PTGui Pro to stitch together the panorama. At this point, I can finally preview a still frame on my headset. If I like the shot, I'll render the full sequence to frames from After Effects and use PTGui Pro's batch stitching capabilities to process the image sequence. For high-precision work, I generate a layered panorama from PTGui and further tweak the image in After Effects.

Finally, I take the stitched panoramic image sequence, apply some sharpening and color correction in After Effects, and render out a 4k video file in Adobe Media Encoder.

In total, to capture, ingest, edit, stitch, and postprocesss a 30-second shot will take me about three hours. High-precision post work can add an extra hour or two. A full day of shooting produces about 15 shots, which will take me about a work week to deal with.


Bulk File Rename Utility : Free

I use this all the time. Absolutely invaluable for keeping track of all the files you'll be handling.

Adobe Premiere / After Effects: $50/mo

I already pay for these programs for my job. If you work in video, you likely already own these or comparable software. If you don't work in video, they may not be worth the investment on a budget – I'll look into cheaper/free options here.

AE RenderLayers Script: Free

This is how I convert my time-synced video files to frame sequences.

PTGui Pro: € 149 ($232 USD)

I believe Kolor Autopano and Hugin are also viable alternatives;; I've only tried PTGui and it works fantastically. VideoStitch is another option, but it's $1000, and I haven't found anything it can do that PTGui Pro + After Effects can't.