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Old January 24th, 2007, 09:38 AM   #1
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Hello all,

I got contacted by someone today who asked if I could do one of those virtual type deals you see on the web, where you are in a room or location, and you can see a 360 degree view of the room or area.. Sorry I do not know what this is called.. I am videographer and photographer, but I really do not now how this is done, is their special hardware to shoot with?? software to edit and convert it with??? Is this expensive?? What do people cahrge to do this for clients?? Anyway any info on this would be appreciated..

Thanks,
Mike Moncrief
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Old January 24th, 2007, 12:12 PM   #2
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Hey Mike,

These virtual tours are done with a digital camera and a panoramic tripod head, that uses the objective of the lens as the pivot point for panning rather than the camera body. You would thus take a number of shots, rotating the camera view around the room and then put the separate picutes together in a program like phtoshop. I think there might be some programs out there that will do this automatically though. Hope this helps,

Greg
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Old January 24th, 2007, 01:35 PM   #3
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Hi Mike,
There are 3 methods for doing this that I know about.

1.) The first method is the pretty simple and involves what was earlier described.
You put a camera on a tripod to keep your panning shots level and take about a dozen or so shots in a circular view pattern so that each shot has a small amount of overlay with the previous one. Then you stitch the shots together in something like Photoshop or a bundled app, and export the end file as a quicktime .mov file set as a quicktime VR file. Many digital camera come bundled with software that makes this process very simple. I made a few about 5 years ago using a simple point and shoot Canon Digital Elph that came bundled with Photostitcher or something like that. It was a piece of cake requiring very little effort. The end result is pretty much like what you see on many real estate sites or museum virtual tours. They are simple and easy to make.

Here are a 2 simple examples of the ones I made 5 years ago:

http://homepage.mac.com/lunarparcel/...Theater11.html


http://homepage.mac.com/lunarparcel/...Theater15.html


2.) Method 2 is a little more involved and uses better software skills or at least more enhanced physical gear. The end result is just like method 1, but includes a 'global view' in which the viewer can also gain an upward perspective fully 'above' the vantage point, as well as the ground level view fully 'below' the vantage point. This can involve carefully placed additional shots above and below the vantage point and then properly stitched into the vr file, or also can also be acheived through a specially designed 'globe-style' lens system in which the camera is mounted to a bubble-type lenes device that allows for a full globe 360 fish eye effect that creates an end shot that must be converted using special software to achieve the appropriate viewing experience. I have never used one of these, but I have bounced around various sites viewing such files and reading a little bit on the technique. My opinion is that depth perception tends to be more difficult to manage with this method, and as such the view tends to be more skewed and disorienting. Its a cool effect however.

3.) The third method involves the creation of a more fully immersive vr environment in which a vr view is created in one of the two previous methods, and then the resulting view file is embedded with certain 'hotspots' that are embedded with things like html links that take the view into a view file from a different vantage point or to a different location. For example, you may have several vr files of a large area like an arena or some location where you want to give the viewer an option of viewing the site from numerous locations. Each file is loaded up onto a website as seperate virtual 'pages', and they are linked to each other through embedded links on each view file (or hotspots) that let the viewer choose a section of their view, click on it, and find their vantage point to transition to a view from their newly selected spot. This is also found on virtual tours of monuments or even home tours where the hotspots are embedded in hallways or doors that link to 'new rooms' that load up a new view file taken from the new vantage points linked via the embedded file. (Many poplular CD-ROM virtual tour video games from the early 90s where made with this technique.

I bought some books a few years ago that show how to do this, but I haven't had the time to read them or try this out yet, and my books may even be very dated, but I am going to try out some of this someday.

Hope this helps.
-Jon
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Old January 24th, 2007, 02:22 PM   #4
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Here are a couple products, although I haven't ever used them:

http://www.kaidan.com/Detail.bok?no=101
http://www.accupan.com/

Also see the info on Apple's website about QuickTime VR:

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/qtvr/
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Old January 24th, 2007, 05:22 PM   #5
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I do a lot of "VR Tours" for real estate. All of the information thus far is accurate. I would add the following:

If you are on a Mac platform, I highly support VRWORX, http://www.vrtoolbox.com
There are many good applications out there. Avoid those that demand use fees on a per image basis.

You will need, in terms of equipment,
1) a lightweight, but rock solid tripod, like a Bogen 3000 series.
2) A panoramic VR tripod head. I use a Nodal Ninja. Much better built than a Kaidan, which I also own (also cheaper). The best by far (and most expensive) is made by Bogen. For good reason, too. Bogen really thought the technical challenges of VR photography through.
3) A very advanced or professional grade digital camera with widest angle lens you can get short of a fish eye. Being a bit budget minded, I chose a Fuji S9000, mainly because it was built to accomodate the older single contact flash attachments as opposed to being only open to very specific dedicated models. Also, because its filter thread was 58mm I was able to attach my Canon WA58 wide angle attachment to get me to the 20mm (in 35mm terms) wide angle I was looking to have.
4) Good flash equipment with really good diffusers, particularly is you work in real estate. I use one Vivitar and two Sunpak that all allow pre-set output to 1/16 as well as many auto thyristor modes. With a bit of searching all were very cheap on E-Bay. Everything is very manual and, to my way of thinking, very pleasing.

You can do some very cool things with VR photography and there is even a software application you can purchase that will take your finished VR project and map movement to digital video! Can't remember the name right now, but it shouldn't take too long to find it with a search on virtual reality.

Cubic VR imagry is the neatest in my mind because it allows you to produce a 360 degree sphere with just 6 images. I'm not there yet, however.

The biggest challenge to VR photography is that you only get to choose one exposure setting (unless you love being tortured in Photoshop post production).

It is a lot of fun. Do a search on "IVRPA", and international forum on VR photography. Interesting ideas. Slow moving in terms of posts.
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Old January 24th, 2007, 05:28 PM   #6
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Here's a fun example: http://www.panoramas.dk/new-year-2006/times-square.html

Lots more on this site: http://www.panoramas.dk/
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Old January 24th, 2007, 05:51 PM   #7
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Hi,

Wow thanks for all the great info..!! I have both the Mac and PC to work with.. Question about the Quicktime VR, Is this part of Quicktime Pro?/ A separate application??

Thnaks..
Mike Moncrief
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Old January 24th, 2007, 06:30 PM   #8
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****QuickTime VR is part of any QuickTime application on any Mac. To access it, however, you must purchase an access key serial number from Apple computer to make the controls accessable to you. At $30.00, it is probably one of the best deals anywhere.

However, realize that QuickTime was built by Apple Computer to address a very important issue, that of managing time in a linear fashion, from beginning to end. It was intended to be a support application working behind the scenes, as it were, and was intended for programmer use, never user friendly. Be prepared to work with a lot of seemingly unrelated windows to accomplish a task. The latest versions are more difficult to navigate. Still, it is well worth the investment.*****
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Old January 25th, 2007, 01:28 AM   #9
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we are talking about panoramic pictures.
if you want panoramic video, it is the same principle except it is..video.
it far more expensive since it require very dedicated equipement but require less work (no stitching required)
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Old January 27th, 2007, 02:33 PM   #10
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Hello,

Thanks to all for the good info provided.. I was thinking today about another use for this , but not sure it is doable,, If you were to create a virtual VR of say a room or any enviroment.. is there any way to incorporate that into an authored DVD ?? Something like DVD Studio Pro.. ??

Thanks,
Mike Moncrief
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Old January 28th, 2007, 09:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Moncrief
Hello,

Thanks to all for the good info provided.. I was thinking today about another use for this , but not sure it is doable,, If you were to create a virtual VR of say a room or any enviroment.. is there any way to incorporate that into an authored DVD ?? Something like DVD Studio Pro.. ??

Thanks,
Mike Moncrief

---- http://www.longfingers.com
Converts QTVR into dv, which can then be edited in NLE.
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