Pano Virtual Tours

Over the past few months, I’ve been playing around with using panographic and spherical photography to create interactive, virtual tours. I thought I’d post an overview of the experience here, and provide some details of the tools and process I used.

First, I’ll provide links to three of the test shots I did so you can see what this looks like when it’s put together.

Rome Area

Bird Trail

Industrial Building

Creating these tours is a three step process:

First, you need to create a series of photographic images using a wide-angle lens. For this part, I followed this great tutorial. You don’t need a fancy camera for this. In fact you can use a simple point-and-click, although a nice digital SLR and a really wide angle lens will really make things pop.  And if you don’t use a wide angle lens, you’ll just have to create more images and stitch them together to get a full 360.  For the above, I used a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens.

Next, you have to do some post-processing of the images captured in step 1.  Basically, you need to “stitch” the images together to create a single panographic image, or depending on your needs, multiple, tiled images that fit together to create a spherical panorama. For this, I used software from PTGui. You can find some great resources and tutorials on that site. There’s also an open source alternative for this called Hugin, but I haven’t worked with it.

Finally, you have to prepare and publish your creation on the web. There are many ways to do this, but I chose to embed them in a Flash Player using krpano Viewer. the same company also provides krpano Tools, which is basically a framework for creating all the controls, screen elements and effects you see in the examples above.

That’s the nickel tour. I hope you’re all motivated to go create your own tours! I’ll be doing some new shoots for one of our customers over the next few weeks and will post follow-up notes.  I’m also hoping to do a spherical video soon.