One of the most time consuming and annoying processes when it comes to 360 VR video production has got to be media management. When you’ve got 6 or more cameras running every time you record, it can be quite an undertaking to organize and manage those shots in post. As we all know, if you don’t do it immediately, it’s even harder to make sense of what you shot the longer you wait.
To help us with this process, 360 Labs has created a Windows utility to copy and organize files from multiple GoPros or other camera systems we call 360 Cam Importer. What it does is extremely simple, it renames video files from multiple cameras in a 360 array and copies those files into folders per shot. Ultimately it saves you all that clicking, copying, and renaming grunt work. We use it on every project before doing ANY rough stitches or working on any shots. Once you start down a bad path of file organization, it’s hard to turn back.
Get 360 Cam Importer (Windows 7, 8, 10)
USB Hub & Card Reader Recommendations
As of 360 Camera Importer version 1.2.1 we now have the ability to sort files in 2 ways. Firstly, we can sort and import files directly from SD cards. Secondly, we can also point to a folder as a source camera. If you had previously copied shots into folders per each camera (cam1, cam2, cam3, etc) you can now use 360 Cam Importer to sort those files by shot. Likewise, if you don't have a USB hub or access to one, you can import cards individually and use the app to sort them when finished.
If you intend to copy from SD cards, you’ll need a few pieces of cheap hardware if you don’t have them already. Firstly, get yourself a nice USB 3.0 hub with 7 or more ports, we like this 10 port hub from Anker. These hubs come in handy for more than just copying files, you can also charge multiple devices at the same time. Secondly, you’ll need a USB card reader per each camera. Transcend has a nice affordable $6 mini USB 3.0 card reader for regular and micro SD cards that will easily fit side by side into most USB hubs.
Why not just copy files directly from USB connected cameras, you ask? We find that sometimes these cameras are finicky to be recognized by the operating system, whereas SD cards in card readers rarely have problems being detected.
Using 360 Cam Importer
Once you’ve got your hardware, using 360 Cam Importer is easy.
- Choose a destination folder. This is where 360 Camera Importer will copy shots.
- Optional: enter a prefix, like ProjectName_ if desired.
- Optional: If you are using a GoPro or Z-cam that has created multiple files for a long shot, to combined those files select your concatenation type from the drop-down. Otherwise, you may choose not to concatenate and file parts will be treated as separate takes.
- Optional: the “Cam Start with Video File” box is for the shot you’d like 360 Cam Importer to start with on each camera. Say you already copied 10 shots yesterday, in here you can enter “11” to start at shot 11 and skip the first 10. Leave this at 1 if you want to copy everything.
- Optional: the “Destination Drive Start at Shot Number” box allows you to tell 360 Cam Importer how to label the first shot being copied. Instead of starting with “Shot 1” it will start with the number you specify.
- Select your camera sources for up to 24 cameras. These can be SD cards you have plugged into your hub, or file folders containing videos.
- Finally, click “Start Copy” to begin.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you select SD card or folder sources for each camera, 360 Cam Importer will provide a readout of the number of videos on each destination. Those numbers may not match if you had accidentally hit record on one of your cameras (it happens!). It’s best to identify and delete those accidental discharges before you start your copy process. 360 Cam Importer will warn you if your file counts don’t match, but you can also choose to ignore the warning and copy anyway.
By design, 360 Cam Importer never deletes files from the original source. To protect the integrity of your data, you can verify that the copy process was successful before choosing to format your cards. The same happens with sorting files from folders, after verifying everything works as intended, you may wish to delete the original folders.
That’s it! Enjoy! As always, we’re open to consider ideas for new features and improvements. Feel free to reach out. Also, if you have great utilities for helping people to manage the 360 video workflow, we want to know about them and try them! Get in touch!
Get 360 Cam Importer (Windows 7, 8, 10)