We are often asked how we produce our 360vr imagery & Virtual Tours, so rather than explaining it each time we have created a simple explanation page to show you.   Hopefully this should help to show you the process of what is involved in creating this media.

Interactive Virtual Tours are created from multiple 360°vr (Virtual Reality) images which are joined together within an Interface, also know as a Skin.

The design process usually starts with a discussion with the client about their ideas and what they hope to achieve with the investment of a Virtual Tour.  From this a brief is produced, the preferred platform for the tour is decided (either a Bespoke Virtual Tour or Google Street View) and work on the design can begin.

Google Street View tours are often quite simple, Google host them and mostly don’t require any additional interface to navigate them.  A bespoke Virtual Tour usually requires an interface which we will explain more later.  Both our Google and Street View imagery are produced in similar ways, though often our Bespoke service is of higher quality and resolution.

A popular setup that we use for 360°vr images involves 6 photographs around 360° degrees, then one above (zenith) and one below (nadir).  These are produced with a wide angle fisheye lens.   You can see with the example here how this looks. Using a panoramic VR head the camera rotates around the nodal point of the lens.

6 photos around 360°, plus zenith & nadir

The camera is completely set to manual as each image needs to be the same exposure, if it’s not then the image will not blend together correctly.

Once the camera is setup we start shooting, making sure that our shadows are not in the images.  If outside we will try to do capture the photos as quick as possible to help reduce movement within the panoramic image which would make stitching a little harder, for example cloud movement or people moving within the scene.

Once all the images are taken the tripod is moved and a shoot of the nadir (the floor) is taken for patching out the tripod later.  This shot is taken either handheld or with a boom depending on the shutter speed required.  If our client doesn’t require the floor in their 360°vr imagery then we can place a tripod cap over this area.

We then stitch all the images together with specialist software to produce an equirectangular projection.  If you are unsure what that is then think of the images you have seen of the earth flattened – it’s the same thing but the other way around. I create the equirectangular image to produce the spherical 360°vr where as the poster is the earth (sphere) flattened.

The following are 8 photographs taken with a Nikon D800 plus a Nikkor 16mm fisheye lens which are then shown in the stitching program and the final blended equirectangular panorama.

PTGui ScreenshotFlatford Mill and Willy Lott's House

Once the equirectangular panorama has been stitched together we can convert the image into an interactive one and start building the Virtual Tour.

The interface of the Virtual Tour is produced and the 360°vr images added.   At this point any additional media can be added to the tour, such as hotspots, text, photos, video, links etc…

Examples of some of our Virtual Tour interfaces can be seen below, or interact with them on our Virtual Tour page.

HDRi – High Dynamic Range Imagery

For scenes with a high dynamic range of light such as interiors HDR techniques are used as using additional lighting is not suitable.  When shooting the scenes each step of the 360°vr capture is bracketed, producing anything up to 9 images per step which are then blended together.  Here is an example showing 7 images which were blended into part of a 360°vr scene within our Sandy Park Virtual Tour.   The 8th image in this set is the final blended one.

Some of the fisheye lenses we use.  
From the left – Sigma 8mm, Nikkor 10.5mm and 16mm, and a Nikon FC-E9 Fisheye Converter.

Nikkor and Sigma Fisheye Lenses

Spherical Gigapixel Setup

Photographed at approx 60mm, multirow panorama 4 x 24 images + one zenith

Example – University of Exeter Forum

8mm Fisheye Setup – 4x Images

Mostly used for Google Street View tours and 360vr on a pole.

Example – On The Waterfront Google Tour

16mm Fisheye Setup – 8x Images

6 photos around 360°, plus zenith & nadir

Example – Exeter Chiefs Sandy Park Stadium Tour