Recently, I saw on YouTube that you can play videos with 360 degree panoramic views. It's on the #360Video channel (sample videos). What type of video files are these?

Also, you don't need anything like the Oculus Rift to watch these sorts of videos, you can just click and move the camera.

  • 2
    I never knew there was 360 Degree Videos in Youtube.
    – Lucky
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:10

4 Answers 4


A 360-degree video file seems to be a special type of MP4 file.

I used a browser extension to download the YouTube video you mentioned.

When viewed in "VLC media player" the entire 360-degree panorama is shown, rather than a specific view.

enter image description here

(EDIT: As of November 30, 2016, VLC Player now plays 360º videos. )

The "Upload 360 degree videos - YouTube Help" article (link) describes how to upload 360 videos and lists some software references, including Kolor. The Kolor Eyes Free Video Player for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS will play spherical videos both online and offline.

The Linux utility file lists the video as: ISO Media, MP4 v2 [ISO 14496-14]

The Linux utility mediainfo lists the following information:

Complete name                            : Time Couch - VR Demo by StressLevelZero.mp4
Format                                   : MPEG-4
Format profile                           : Base Media / Version 2
Codec ID                                 : mp42
File size                                : 21.3 MiB
Duration                                 : 1mn 39s
Overall bit rate mode                    : Variable
Overall bit rate                         : 1 805 Kbps
Encoded date                             : UTC 2015-03-20 08:41:06
Tagged date                              : UTC 2015-03-20 08:41:06
gsst                                     : 0
gstd                                     : 99125
gssd                                     : B0AFCE0EAHM1434753175604513
gshh                                     : r8---sn-q4f7dnsd.googlevideo.com

ID                                       : 1
Format                                   : AVC
Format/Info                              : Advanced Video Codec
Format profile                           : [email protected]
Format settings, CABAC                   : Yes
Format settings, ReFrames                : 1 frame
Codec ID                                 : avc1
Codec ID/Info                            : Advanced Video Coding
Duration                                 : 1mn 39s
Bit rate                                 : 1 611 Kbps
Maximum bit rate                         : 5 691 Kbps
Width                                    : 1 280 pixels
Height                                   : 640 pixels
Display aspect ratio                     : 2.000
Frame rate mode                          : Constant
Frame rate                               : 29.970 fps
Color space                              : YUV
Chroma subsampling                       : 4:2:0
Bit depth                                : 8 bits
Scan type                                : Progressive
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)                       : 0.066
Stream size                              : 19.0 MiB (89%)
Tagged date                              : UTC 2015-03-20 08:41:07

ID                                       : 2
Format                                   : AAC
Format/Info                              : Advanced Audio Codec
Format profile                           : LC
Codec ID                                 : 40
Duration                                 : 1mn 39s
Bit rate mode                            : Variable
Bit rate                                 : 192 Kbps
Maximum bit rate                         : 201 Kbps
Channel(s)                               : 2 channels
Channel positions                        : Front: L R
Sampling rate                            : 44.1 KHz
Compression mode                         : Lossy
Stream size                              : 2.27 MiB (11%)
Title                                    : IsoMedia File Produced by Google, 5-11-2011
Language                                 : English
Encoded date                             : UTC 2015-03-20 08:41:07
Tagged date                              : UTC 2015-03-20 08:41:07

Finally, the Spherical Video RFC (draft) describes the spherical video format metadata needed for 360 degree videos.

  • Can we watch 360-degreee videos in VLC or any other media player after downloading it. Or if it is possible to view in an Android device offline/downloaded videos in 360-degree?
    – Lucky
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:06
  • 1
    Kolor Eyes Free Video Player for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS can play spherical videos online and offline. I edited my answer to include this.
    – Steven
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 15:59
  • 1
    You can even view these videos without 3D perspective directly on Youtube by simply disabling Flash player in browser. HTML5 player then plays the video in standard display form (as on your image above). (Note: sometimes you need to give Youtube one more page refresh (F5 key) before HTML5 player starts successfully.)
    – miroxlav
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 15:52
  • 1
    Android's YouTube app latest version supports playing the 360 degree videos even on offline mode. :)
    – Lucky
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 19:36

[Edit: Updated broken links]

These 360-degree video files aka spherical or equirectangular videos. As mentioned in the YouTube Creator blog post, you can find the metadata for the file information of 360 degree format video in the GitHub link:


These special 360 degree video are either MP4 or MKV(Matroska/WebM) (in which a metadata file to represent it as 360 degree video file) is input to a python script 360VideosMetadata.py Edit: Updated instructions here.

This is the setting for uploading a general and also recommended setting for a 360 degree video file in YouTube.

So the file has to have these recommended bitrates, codecs, and resolutions.

File Format Info:

  • Container: MP4

  • Audio codec: AAC-LC

     - Channels: Stereo or Stereo + 5.1
     - Sample rate 96khz or 48khz
  • Video codec: H.264

  • Frame rate : 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 frames per second (other frame rates are also acceptable).

  • Video bitrate(24, 25, 30) - Varies from 2160pixels(4k) max to 360p min.

  • Audio bitrate(48, 50, 60):

     Mono   - 128 kbps
     Stereo - 384kbps
     5.1    - 512kbps
  • Resolution and aspect ratio:

     2160p: 3840x2160
     1440p: 2560x1440
     1080p: 1920x1080
     720p : 1280x720
     480p : 854x480
     360p : 640x360
     240p : 426x240

This is the recommended upload video file encoding settings for a 360 degree video on YouTube. More on the recommendation page.

  • 1
    Note: This recommendation page applies to all YouTube videos, not just 360 degree videos.
    – Steven
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 15:37
  • @Steven Yes, There is no specific format for 360-degree videos mentioned in youtube site and this is the recommended for best results and since we add the metadata before uploading the video and it is uploaded as a normal video upload and processed based on the metadata we stich to the video file we upload. See my updated answer.
    – Lucky
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 17:37

It seems to be the standard video formats, MPEG, FLV, etc.


Please note that audio for these 360 videos should also be created as a 4-channel Ambisonics 1st order (with ACN channel order and SN3D gain normalization), according to Youtube specs found here: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6395969?hl=en

It is absolutely wrong to upload 360-videos with mono or stereo soundtrack, they make the viewer sick, as audio will not rotate with video... Instead, if a proper Ambisonics soundtrack is used, the sound will correspond to the video viewport (even if not using a Google Cardboard binocular viewer).

  • do you have an example how to use ffmpeg to setup 4 channels from 4mono streams for a spatial audio video for yt?
    – user13426
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 13:11

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