Click on the blue and white arrow icons to move through the sample virtual reality tour below from one panorama to the other. Use the white arrow icons at the bottom of the screen to look around where you are. You can also just click and drag with your mouse or trackpad to move around the scene.
The virtual reality tour above was shot for one of my private clients, and is representative of the product you would get when you purchase one of my Standard Virtual Reality Tour Packages. Currently, I can offer a variety of interior and exterior panoramas including full 360 degree by 180 degree spherical panoramas such as the ones incorporated into the tour above. I can also offer object virtual reality showing a 360 degree view of an object. All of these are easily integrated into a web page or blogging software such as WordPress, which is what I use for my web sites.
The panoramas incorporated into the tour at the top of this page were created using a Sigma 8mm circular fisheye lens at a 11 degree up angle taking shots in only four directions. All of my panoramas/virtual tours are shot in High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR uses computer software to assemble, in my case, 6 frames per direction, representing a 10 stop range, into one image that lets you see both the darkest objects and the brightest objects clearly. Assuming that I have shot everything correctly, it should only take a few minutes for the computer to stitch together the normal 48 frames required of four directions, with a 10 stop range and two different white balances.
While this is the normal approach to shooting and processing commercial virtual reality tours, there is a small problem or two. Only shooting four directions does leave a hole where the tripod sits. Also, given that an entire hemisphere is shot with each frame, there isn’t much detail in the photo and it can be a bit blurry if you zoom in any. There are ways to shoot that area under the tripod and include it in the panorama; and there are ways to create much, much more detailed panoramas. I have utilized some of these advanced techniques with some of my personal projects. The problem is that they are very, very time consuming as compared to just shooting four directions sans the tripod area. To add an actual photo of the area under that tripod to a panorama takes about two hours additional processing time per panorama. This more than doubles the cost of the panorama. When you consider that you can acceptably patch the area under the tripod using Photoshop in a matter of minutes, it generally isn’t worth the time or money. If I had to pay someone else to do the work for me, I would settle for the Photoshop patch. Of course I am a very good artist and my patches are particularly good.
There is another reason why a Photoshop patch of the area under the tripod is good enough, and it has to do why we don’t bother shooting a higher resolution panorama most of the time. I could get a much better panorama using my 15mm diagonal fisheye lens and shooting five directions around, one up, one down, and one offset. This is done for some high end properties, and I have done it for my own business. I offer this process in the Premium Virtual Reality Tour Package. I could get even better results using a normal rectilinear lens on a computerized head taking hundreds or even thousands of frames. There are legitimate needs for both of these approaches, just not for a panorama to be used for marketing purposes on the internet. The reason is the enormous size of the panoramic files and the time it would take them to load over even a standard broadband connection. Given that most people expect a page to load in less than two seconds, you can’t even download the full resolution panorama created with just an 8mm fisheye lens, in that time, using a 22Mbps broadband connection. The sample above uses panoramas that are both full size at about 6800×3500 pixels and ones that are about 2/3 size at 4000×2000 pixels, both created using the same 8mm lens, shooting in only four directions. Even over the supposed 22Mbps broadband connection I am using, that set of small files that makes up the panorama takes a two or three seconds to load, at best. The the low resolution/gray scale loading images and the load bar, makes it less frustrating to wait for the entire panorama to load, but there is a limit to users’ patience. The client must always choose some amount of compromise between image quality, load speed, and cost. To decide what is right for your application, give me a call so that we can discuss your needs.
Below are links to some of my commercial work for YP360. All these tours were shot in four directions per node using the Sigma 8mm lens. They were all shot in HDR over a 10 stop range resulting in 6 frames in each direction for each white balance setting. The exteriors were shot with one white balance and the interiors were shot with the exterior white balance and usually a tungsten white balance for the interior lighting. For these tours, I just shot the panoramas as a contractor for Everyscape. The Everyscape team assembled the panoramas into the virtual tours you see. However, I can do all the same processing myself, as indicated by the sample at the top of this page, and you get an entirely custom product.
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See the Pricing page for an idea of the cost, but basically, I charge by the finished image or image file and how it will be used. The normal turn around time for a single node (set of images around a single point) would be one business day from the time the images are taken. A job with multiple nodes or a complete tour may take more time and an estimated delivery date would be put in the estimate and contract. Given that I do all the processing myself, I am certain that I can give you a better turnaround time and better customer service than those guys that send all their photos overseas for processing. Of course, the more changes and customization you want, the longer the process will take. I can deliver the interactive panoramas in Quicktime, Flash, or HTML5 (Apple Safari & Mobile Devices) formats, although I only create turnkey virtual reality tours in Flash and HTML5. I can even create a virtual reality tour complete with hotspots, text, photos, video, and audio: and can help you integrate them into your web site. The delivered files will normally be processed at a resolution suitable for standard web publication, but extreme high resolution images are available for special applications. Also, don’t forget that I can provide a simple panoramic image in sufficient resolution for a magazine centerfold, a poster, a banner, or a billboard. I can offer you all those services in one place with one contact person to walk you through the whole process.
Below is a High Dynamic Range (HDR) cylindrical panorama of the Palace Green in Colonial Williamsburg. It was taken about 9AM using a Sigma 15mm diagonal fisheye lens. While the 15mm diagonal fisheye produces a more detailed image than the 8mm circular fisheye, it produces a somewhat softer, less detailed, image as compared with a standard wide angle rectilinear lens. A much higher resolution and sharper image could be produced using a wide angle, or even a telephoto, rectilinear lens, but it would take considerably more time and many, many more images to complete the panorama. There is a place for each lens choice depending on the requirements and budget. As I discussed above, good web performance of a panorama download will render anything more than an 8mm circular fisheye and a four direction capture unecessary in most, but not all circumstances. Clicking on the image below to get the full resolution photo will demonstrate the problem with higher resolution panoramas. It takes a while for them to load over a standard internet connection.
Next we will look at a sample of object virtual reality where instead of the object moving around you, as it were, you move around the object. Basically, you are able to spin the object and, potentially, view it at various angles. Once you setup the photography, a simple one row VR like this is pretty straight forward to do. I will do a one row object VR movie of a small object (typically small enough to fit in a 16″x16″x24″ box) like the sample below for $149. I produce all my VR movies in both Flash and HTML5 (Apple Mobile devices) such that Flash will play by default if HTML5 is not available. Otherwise HTML5 will play. Please let me know if you are interested in shooting a VR video of your product(s) and we can discuss the particulars. It is possible to do a VR video that will move all around the object, 360×360. However, this requires a very special setup, often customized for the object. If you have such a need, I would be more than happy to discuss the project with you.