I was introduced to Google Business Photos by a company a few weeks ago, and when I saw what it could do I was VERY impressed.

See: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/help/maps/businessphotos/

The 360 degree tours and walk-around capabilities are quite amazing, the complete lack of distortion between stitched shots also impressed me.

Is there a good way to emulate this?

  • what exactly are you asking? How to shoot the individual panoramas, or how to embed a linked set of panoramas into a webpage? – Matt Grum Feb 28 '13 at 11:19
  • both basically - how to achieve a similar web view from scratch. – Digital Lightcraft Feb 28 '13 at 11:29
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    While I realize this is the question you are having. I would really like to see this spit into a set of questions since every part potentially has lots of answers with pros and cons: Equipment including VR heads, Stitching Software, Virtual Tour Software, etc. – Itai Feb 28 '13 at 14:28
  • @Itai - yes i see what you mean, HOWEVER most have been asked before separately havent they? – Digital Lightcraft Feb 28 '13 at 17:01
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    @DarkcatStudios - Maybe those would be a good place to start then :) There are maybe some topics covered but I do not recall other then basic stitching software questions. – Itai Feb 28 '13 at 17:34

Shooting spherical panorama without distortion is just a matter of using a panoramic (VR) tripod head that allows you to pivot the camera/lens about the centre of projection, using a lens with a known distortion profile and competent stitching application.

To get results anything like shown in the Google example will require multiple exposures in each orientation in order to handle the wide dynamic range. A fisheye lens will give you the widest coverage in the fewest shots.

If you're doing this professionally then there are motorized heads which can control the camera which come with software to stitch the images afterwards so you just need to set the tripod up, press a button and then make a cup of coffee. The Rodeon VR heads are the top of the line here, but prices are in the thousands.

There are flash panorama apps that allow you to embed the result into a webpage without using quicktime. There are some good proprietary ones which support a similar type of virtual tour, such as KRPano. Some like Syborg Studios offer a free version which has limited support for tours (and displays a watermark).

On the complete free side there are Pan0 and PanoSalado.

  • Yes i was told by the company that they had to shoot a 4-shot HDR, at 4 orientations, which surprised me, as i would have thought you would need more than 4 90-degree shots to create a decent stitch. Can you name any of this software? I assume google use something very much like they use for street view, but thats obviously their own proprietary software which they wont want to sell. – Digital Lightcraft Feb 28 '13 at 11:32
  • @DarkcatStudios with a fisheye you can do it with 4 orientations, but you wont be able to look straight up or down. I've updated the answer with some links – Matt Grum Feb 28 '13 at 11:54
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    good god those Rodeon VR heads are expensive, have they sold any???!! – Digital Lightcraft Feb 28 '13 at 14:10
  • I bet they have! That looks like a far more useful piece of equipment to the professional spherical panorama maker than a new camera. – Phil Feb 28 '13 at 17:06

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