Insta360 Titan Unbiased Review — BEST Pro VR Camera of 2019?

Hugh Hou
Hugh Hou
Jul 9 · 8 min read
Insta360 Titan on Motion Impossible M Pro

Today is a big day for cinematic VR filmmakers. Insta360 Titan, after
the official launch announcement four months ago, finally start to ship.
I have been very lucky selected as one of the few creators that
participate in the Titan beta program and have been shooting with the Titan beta unit for almost three months. I want to give you an unbiased review of the Insta360 Titan immediately, so you can decide if you should upgrade your current camera setup to Titan or wait on the next cinematic VR camera.

Don’t like to read? Here is the full Video review:

Before I start, I want to say no one sponsors this article.
Most of my videos and articles are not sponsored, so I can give unbiased
reviews on all the VR cameras. I am not afraid to offend camera
manufacturers and point out the problems. I always look after my viewers.
Same goes with this review. Insta360 Titan, just like any other
cameras have its strong points and its weakness, you need to
understand what it does to your production and what it means to your
POST workflow. 11K 3D 360 footage is very nice, but can you even
handle it with your current machine, that is something you should find
out before you even consider purchasing it.

Specs.

I already made 2 initial review videos right here. I will highly
recommend you to go check it out to learn about the spec of this
camera:

Basically, it uses 8 MFT sensors instead of small sensors like
the Insta360 Pro 2. With big sensors and 8 big high-quality lenses -
you can capture up to 10K 3D or 11K 2D 360 footage with fantastic image quality, low noise, and low compression artifacts. If you don’t understand why this is a huge deal for professional VR filmmakers, I will suggest you to go check out VR denoiser tutorial right here and understand sensor noises and compression artifacts and why they are bad for you and end up causing you more money to fix in POST. One thing no one mentioned but hidden in the spec somewhere is that simultaneous live-streaming and recording is supported in 8K 3D. Insta360 Pro 2 only supports Livestream and recording in 8K monoscopic. Lot’s of the live stream jobs, besides streaming in 4K 2D or 3D on Facebook or YouTube, lots of my clients require archive a high-quality stereoscopic version for later post-production edit for a recap video. And they want that in 3D. Now it is possible to do it all in one instead of renting extra cameras.
Also, Titan supports 8-bit 8K 3D in 50fps — to capture slow motion without sacrifice resolution. This keeps your whole production in 8K 3D instead of dropping your final render to 6K 3D like using Insta360 Pro 2. Slow motion capture is more often than you think. Also with 50fps, it will help avoid flickers when you film in other countries like in European. I know, it is not 60fps. But it is close enough, and it looks good when slow it down. I shoot many sports VR video, and it is nice not to have to choose between frame rate and resolution all the time.

10-bit color depth

One of the reasons why I decide to purchase the Titan is the 10-bit color
depth. Titan is the ONLY ALL-IN-ONE VR camera that can do 10-bit color
in Video Capture. Why is this a bid deal? Watch this explain video and
you will know why:

In term of camera control and usability, Titan is a lot like Insta360
Pro 2. In fact, the Titan app looks almost identical to the Pro 2
camera app. If you are familiar with Pro or Pro 2, there are almost 0
learn curve for learning how to operate the Titan — which I
enjoy.

Essential features like FlowState Stabilization, Farsight camera
control are all part of the Titan package. The Farsight work extremely
well with the Titan, better than my Insta360 Pro 2, even on my Beta
unit. Insta360 learn from their old mistakes and improve in
every way in the design of the Titan.

Low light

Low light performance is another welcome feature introduced in Titan
- Both in Photo and Video. Low light image is clear and better
looking that any ALL-IN-ONE VR camera I had used.

(Sample video is coming soon)

Stitching and parallax

Let’s talk about Stitching and parallax. Big sensors camera will have
parallax issues. If you used Z Cam V1 Pro, you know that already.
Especially for Stereoscopic production. I will suggest pushing your
talents further away from the camera than your usual production using
cameras like the Insta360 Pro 2. For monoscopic, thanks to the 200 degrees improved giant fisheye lenses, you get decent overlap between lenses — so you can always fix any stitching issues with Mistika VR in post. If you follow this channel, you know this workflow well. I will provide my Titan template for Mistika VR download below. And try it out yourself.

11K 360?

Okay, now let’s get real here. Do you really need 11K 360 footage?
To me personally, this is not realistic. As some of you might know
already, I recently upgrade my entire pipeline to try to handle 11K
Titan footage with the Nvidia Titan RTX Graphic cards. I can tell you
my machine form Maingear is a breast — but it is not cheap. Not only
you need to spend the money on purchasing the Titan or rent the Titan
for most of the production, you also need to make sure your editing
machine can handle Titan footage. Right now, Adobe Premiere CAN NOT
even create an 11K sequence to edit 11K footage. This is a huge
bottleneck. My workaround is to use Adobe After Effects as my editing
software. But not everyone is comfortable with After Effects. You can
certainly use Davinci Resolve — but Resolve does not have a streamlined
workflow to deal with 3D Stereoscopic 360 footage just yet. Another
option will be Nuke, but that is very unrealistic for any small production
firm.

Then the next question is displaying 11K video footage. Beside
foveation technology, there is NO popular headset can see 6K footages,
let alone 11K. So it means the majority of the people can not even see the
beautiful 11K footage you shot unless they use technology like Visbit
or the Insta360 very own crystal view. But can Crystal View deliver
true 11K in a headset like Oculus Go or Oculus Quest — 2 of the most
popular VR headset today?

The answer is sadly NO. You can watch this video for more information.

Don’t get me wrong, the Titan footage in Crystal View on Oculus Go looks absolutely amazing even it is not true 10K 3D or 11K. The foveation tracking of Crystal view is slightly delayed and has a circle Screen door effect. It does make me a little bit dizzy.

You can watch up to, theoretically, 12K resolution 360 video using
VR player like Visbit with headsets like Pico G2 4K or Vive Focus — but
not many people, in the US at least, own those headsets. I have it and
I can tell you it looks absolutely amazing without delay and screen door effects. But you simply just can not see it b/c you don’t have the headset. I will also have the Skyworth 8K headset in 2 weeks — a headset that can play natively 8K video. So it will be really interesting to see if it work with my Titan footage. So don’t forget to subscribe if you want to watch that video.

If your goal is NOT 11K, but better looking 8K 3D 360 video, especially
for low light production, then Titan is a great choice. It shoots
beautiful 10-bit video in HEVC — which allow you to really color grade
in post without banding issue or noise issue. I am excited to show you
more of my personal Titan production soon — so stay tuned.

FlowState stabilization

One other thing I want to be absolutely real to you, don’t rely on
FlowState stabilization. It is nice to have FlowState so your moving
footage look smooth without a gimbal — BUT, this is a huge BUT and I
got ask A LOT, so pay close attention: you can NOT really use
FlowState stabilization if you want flawless 360 footage without
any stitching error.

So it in term make this feature kinda pointless for professional
production. Base on lots of my experience, the Insta360 Stitcher never
get a perfect stitching result, especially the camera is on the
move, with pattern background like a fence, and close objects are crossing the stitch line. So you need to fix it in Mistika VR. But Mistika VR does not read FlowSate stabilization data, just yet. So it won’t produce stabilized footage if you want to fix all the stitching issues. If you own the Insta360 Pro 2 camera, you will know exactly what I am talking about. There is currently no solution to this. If we do, I will be the first one to tell you. So just don’t bank on stabilization as your reason to purchase Titan.

As you see right here (from the video), to truly achieve stable movement with perfect stitched Titan footage, you need professional rover with an enhanced
physical gimbal that can hold the weight of the Insta360 Titan — which
is close to 10 pounds (or 5KG) with battery. To my knowledge, the only
one right now works with Titan is the Motion Impossible M Pro — an
upgraded version of my old rover — Mantis. I will do a review of the M
Pro — a motion-control rover system with the Insta360 Titan soon, so
stay tuned for that video. It is going to be a really good one and
answer lots of your questions.

Storage / SSD

Titan still uses SD cards for the storage solution. It uses 9 regular SD cards. So it is 9 times of the risk if any of your SD cards go wrong. SSD is still not supported like the Old Insta360 Pro — which is one of my favorite features. So my advice is to invest in good SD cards and test all of them before your filming job. Corrupted SD card is the most common enemy in any 360 productions.

I hope you enjoy this unbiased initial review of the Insta360 Titan.
The bottom line is, figure out your production requirements and your
needs. If you are going to shoot a lot of tight space in 3D, like
inside of a car for car commercials, Titan prob is not the right
choice. If you hope to upgrade to 11K production, I don’t think the
POST pipeline and the end delivery platform are there yet. It will be
kinda waste of money to get Titan for that reason alone.

But if you are looking for 10 bit 8K 3D 360 production, especially in
challenging lighting environment with slow-motion involved, Titan is an excellent camera for that. And your Colorists will really thank you for that. Clearer 8K video will also help with POST processing like stabilization and roto tracking with Mocha Pro — make your CG artists happy as well.

I will have more tutorials and follow up reviews of the Titan coming
soon. Don’t forget to subscribe to CreatorUp YouTube channel if you want to learn more.

If you are interested in purchasing the Insta360 Titan, click HERE.