Hi Everyone, welcome once again to my website. I would like to take you through the steps of creating a virtual panoramic tour from the beginning to finished product. Hopefully, this article will help everyone understand the concept in more detail.
Surveying The Land
We scheduling a date for the shoot depending on fair-sunny conditions, with preferably no wind, which would be ideal. High winds tend to shift stuff around, so it’s far better to go with little to no wind at all. Our first priority is to get a good understanding of what you would like in the tour and basically what you envisage. I then start formulating ideas and placements of each shot by pinning each area. Sometimes I do dynamic panoramas where two or more panoramas are combined into one. As the time of day changes, so do the panoramas, which add a realistic feel to the tours. I then come back to those pins at various times of the day and take a panorama.
Choosing The Best Time To Shoot
I have found that midday is always best for outdoors, because all shadows are vertical and short, and no long shadows are being cast anywhere. It’s a bit different in-doors, depending on when the sun shines directly into the rooms, I will opt for when there is no visible sunlight shining into the room. I always have a look through all rooms and run through a basic checklist to see that there is nothing out of place and the rooms and grounds are looking good. Once the prepping is complete, it’s then time to start with the photography.
The Photographic Process
I currently use a GoPro 7 because it has HDR (High Dynamic Range) in-camera, so no post-production stacking is required. People often ask me why I haven’t yet bought a camera that shoots a 360 photo in one shot. The answer is because none of them have HDR in-built. There are some high-end cameras such as the Insta 360 Pro range that do, but its price (R150k) is something we are working towards investing in as we move forward as a business. For now the resolution with the GoPro 7 Black is very good, at 22120 pixels in 360 degrees.
Taking the Shot
Each panoramic photograph comprises of 11 photos, taken on a level surface which I achieve with a good quality tripod, that has been stripped and level disk fastened. I always have to be mindful of mirrors, reflections, and shadows, and avoid being captured in any of the photos. It makes the tour look much more professional. I sometimes do more than one shot, curtains open, then curtains closed, and make sure the lights are all on, doors either all open or closed, toilet seats all up or down, all soaps displayed the same in each room, etc. To have that consistency throughout is key to making it looked polished. I also carry backup batteries for all devices and pack extra SD Cards in case one decides to corrupt or ends up 100% capacity.
Night and Day
Often if we do night and day shots for the exterior and grounds, we take the tour up a level with dynamic panoramas. We will need to be accommodated while doing night shots as we prefer not to travel after dark.
Stitching Till the Cows Come Home
All the images need to be stitched, which can sometimes take up to thirty minutes. Most take about fifteen minutes. I make sure they are level and lighting is right throughout. Each panorama is resized as a file process to load faster, but have enough detail to look sharp for web output.
Let the Tour Begin!
We are at the final stages, where I add all the completed panoramas into my virtual tour software. I went all out and got the best one on the market (3D Vista). It is packed with all sorts of features that I have not yet had the chance to explore properly, like live stereoscopic streaming 360 live feeds and stereoscopic panoramas. The tours can take some time to finish because I like to make sure each one is done correctly.
As our last step, I compile the finished panorama and send it to the owner for approval. When everyone is happy with the final version I then send the client a zip file with the tour ready to be added to their website. I am also a seasoned website developer and am able to help add the content for a small admin fee.