Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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I am currently working to design a flash virtual tour, but I know little about how the photographs are taken.

Ideally I'd like to be able to take a set of 6 shots from a single focal point, and be able to align them seamlessly into a cube form. The other solution is to take a special fisheye image, and stretch it dynamically in flash.

I've seen examples of both as virtual tours, and ones formatted as a rotating cube are more responsive and have a higher image quality. The airbus and Cruden Homes are definitely in the cube format, I'm not entirely certain which format the New York VT uses:

I have a set of questions, the first is the most important, the others may become separate questions if I don't get an answer here:

  1. How are those photos taken?
  2. Is there a specific mount that can be used?
  3. How long does it take to set up?
  4. How much post-processing is necessary on the images?
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The Airbus one is amazing! Sorry, I have no idea how it was taken. but I'll check the answers as they come. –  Itai Feb 2 '11 at 15:35
I find the controls on the Airbus one horribly unintuitive. If you're going to add mouse control to yours, please make it work more like Google's Street View. –  Evan Krall Apr 17 '11 at 9:08
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

These VR images are usually shot with standard camera as a multi image panorama, and then processed in software.

The easiest way is to use a special panoramic (sometimes called VR) tripod head which pivots the camera about the exact centre of the lens in order to ensure the photos line up and there's no paralax error. Shooting vertically with a wide angle lens, ideally a 20mm equiv. or wider, pan through 360 degrees, then take the camera off the tripod and shoot a single sky and ground image (i.e. straight up and straight down)

If you don't have a wide lens you can shoot a two or three row panorama. This can avoid the need for a sky/ground shot, but you'll have tripod legs in your ground shot! There's no need to use a fisheye lens, a standard rectiliear lens will do, the software will do the rest.

The images need to be assembled using a special piece of software which will stitch the images together to create a single 360 degree by 180 degree rectangular image, or a cube map if you prefer. PTGui is often recommended for this task. Other good panorama stitching programs should be able to do this as well.

There's obviously quite a bit of post processing involved, but if you shoot with a good overlap between images the software should be able to assemble them with little interaction, though it might take a while to process.

Shooting multiple exposures in each position and creating a tonemapped HDR panorama is also commonly done, as it helps deal with large changes in brightness you can get planning through 360 degrees, especially outdoors in direct sunlight.

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Is there anything in particular that PTGui does that photoshop (or similar) can't do? –  zzzzBov Feb 2 '11 at 17:23
You can do it with Photoshop's built in tools but it's a bit more work, you have to get it to stitch the pano normally without floor or sky images, then use the 3D tools to create a sphere map and align the floor and sky by hand. –  Matt Grum Feb 3 '11 at 15:33
"pivots the camera about the exact centre of the lens" is not exactly correct. You're looking to rotate the camera/lens combination around the no-parallax point. Which may not be the nodal point or where the entrance pupil sits, either. And with lenses like the Sigma 8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye, the NPP can shift with rotation angles. –  inkista yesterday
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