VRencoder: Encode Your 360 Videos With Ease

VRencoder is a free encoding tool for 360º (3D) videos, and makes it super easy to encode your videos to the optimal resolution and bitrate for the various virtual reality platforms.

VRencoder by Purple Pill

We initially released this tool together with our now most popular blog post, The Best Encoding Settings for your 4k 360º 3D VR Videos. In that blog post you can read which frustrations led us to create VRencoder, and the reasoning behind the encoding settings used.  This article describes the encoding options of VRencoder in a bit more detail.

Inputs

VRencoder works really simple: you dump all your hi-res video files in a folder, you select this folder in VRencoder, select for which VR platforms you want to encode your files, and then sit back while your output folder fills up with perfectly encoded files!

So which files can you use as input? Here is a list of supported file types:

  • MP4
  • MOV
  • AVI
  • MPG
  • WEBM

Besides video files, the latest version of VRencoder now also supports the following image sequence formats:

  • DPX
  • EXR
  • TIFF

When using sequences as input, just make sure your input folder contains just one single sequence, and that no other video files are present in the folder.

Outputs

Now, let’s shed some more light on the various output options.

Desktop VR

Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
Codec: VP9
Max resolution: 3840×2160
Max FPS: 60
Avg. bitrate (low fps/high fps): 13M / 26M

In the first version of VRencoder we used the h.264/AVC codec for Desktop VR, because h.265/HEVC playback on PCs is still terrible. However, we figured out that VP9 plays back very smoothly on PCs, and has the added benefit of significantly reducing the filesize (comparable to h.265/HEVC) as well as showing crisper colors, especially blacks, than h.264/AVC.

Android H265

Platforms: Gear VR, Daydream, higher-end Cardboard phones
Codec: h.265/HEVC
Max resolution: 3840×2160
Max FPS: 30
Avg. bitrate: 13M

This option was called Samsung Gear VR in the initial version of VRencoder and has been the most often used encoding option. Ensures a good output quality and smooth playback on higher-end Android devices.

Android VP9

Platforms: Gear VR, Daydream, higher-end Cardboard Android phones
Codec: VP9
Max resolution: 3840×2160
Max FPS: 30
Avg. bitrate: 13M

Similar to the previous option, but using the VP9 codec instead of h.265/HEVC. The output quality and file size is almost identical, but the major benefit is that the VP9 is also viewable on PCs.

Cardboard iOS

Platforms: Cardboard on iOS and lower-end Cardboard Android phones
Codec: h.264/AVC
Max resolution: 1920×1080
Max FPS: 30
Avg. bitrate: 10M

iOS devices are not made for VR. iPhones and iPads do not support the advanced codecs like VP9 or h.265, so you’re stuck with h.264/AVC, and the max playable resolution, at least on older models, is [email protected]

High Quality H265

Platforms: None
Codec: h.265/HEVC
Max resolution: 8,192×4,320
Max FPS: 120
Avg. bitrate: 75M

This option is here just for archiving purposes and is not playable on any device yet.

YouTube

Platforms: YouTube
Codec: VP9
Max resolution: 8192×8192
Max FPS: 60
Avg. bitrate (low fps/high fps): 25M/45M

YouTube mentions that they support input up to 8192×8192 for VR videos, which is not possible with the h.264/AVC codec, and YouTube does not accept h.265/HEVC videos as input. So you should either upload your uncompressed ProRes, CineForm, or AVI files, or use this setting to convert it to a hi-res VP9 first… at least, that was our plan, but then we found out that YouTube supports VP9, but YouTube’s 360 metadata injector does not, so we had to switch this encoding option back to h.264 with a max resolution of 3840×2160. Attention: you will still have to use YouTube’s metadata injector to make your video display as a 360º video on YouTube!

Facebook

Platforms: Facebook
Codec: h.264/AVC
Max resolution: 3840×1920
Max FPS: 60
Avg. bitrate (low fps/high fps): 40M/60M

Facebook currently only supports monoscopic 360º videos. So if you use this VRencoder option on a stereoscopic video, half the video will be cropped off.

Headjack

Platforms: Headjack
Codec: h.265/HEVC
Max resolution: 8192×8192
Max FPS: 60
Avg. bitrate (low fps/high fps): 25M/45M

Headjack is our app creation and content management platform for 360º video producers. It allows you to create a custom VR app in minutes, and this encoding setting allows you to upload your videos quickly and in great quality! We chose h.265/HEVC over VP9 here, because this codec encodes a bit faster.

Get VRencoder!

As mentioned before, VRencoder is completely free to use, so fill in your name and email address below to receive download links for both the Mac & Windows versions in your inbox!

If you are a programmer interested to improve upon this tool, then click here to find the latest source code.