Creating VR using stitched images

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by hulugu, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. hulugu macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    the faraway towns
    A client asked me to build a couple of virtual "tours" as a side project, but I'm trying to figure out what I'll need in terms of software.

    Has anyone built a virtual tour using Quicktime? Any tips or tricks? Pitfalls? Or something that worked really well.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Are you referring to the ones where you can spin around freely or do you just want to simulate a pan through? I don't know of any way to do it in quicktime, but there are various packages used for the other stuff. It's common to use a wide angle lens and some kind of pano kit, although I can tell you from prior experience the lighter pano heads won't support a 1Ds type body + heavy lens. If you're going that route you might see if the local camera shop has one of the manfrotto types for rental. There are several software packages that will do spherical stitches, although you will probably have to remove the tripod legs in photoshop. I haven't dealt with this in a very long time, so I'm not sure what software is best now. It's probably possible at this point to just do it in photoshop via photomerge. If you were trying to instead do something like a pan through, an application that allow for virtual camera projections would be a better choice.
  3. hulugu thread starter macrumors 68000


    Aug 13, 2003
    the faraway towns
    Hey thanks for the post.

    I used my Manfrotto pan-head, which is *just* strong enough to hold D7000 with a 8-16mm lens.

    I used a shutter release and just panned the camera around, keeping the legs just out of the shot and then I reset the tripod so I could take a picture of the floor—which involved me standing on furniture in a ridiculous position.

    Now, I've just got to figure out the software to build an interactive image. Worst case scenario, I've got an awesome 360 panorama.
  4. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Ahh well you might still have to play with it quite a bit when it comes to post. there are issues such as creep on tripod heads, lens distortion, and vignetting. Typically you would want something like a 30% overlap between frames, bracketed exposure and mirror lockup. Some vignetting can be corrected via software. The same goes for distortion. Both PS and other applications have tools for that sort of thing, and it can help you match up frame edges. It's not possible to just clone or piece everything without it being a complete mess, but if you run into trouble ask and I'll see if I can offer suggestions. I don't do it for work anymore, but I have done quite a bit of comp work. If the components were way off, I would draw out theoretical vanishing points and everything as guides for what I thought would work.

    In terms of the shot, even when you mount it from the body, the pivot will be too far back. It should be centered on whatever portion of the lens you find to give the least parallax, which was why I suggested possibly renting a pano head. In an attempt to actually own one, I tried a RRS one years ago, although I never did a huge amount of this. Their gimbal might be okay, but that one wasn't suitable for a "pro" body. Read that as anything heavier than a 5D and a fairly light lens. The manfrotto is heavy, but it's just okay. I tried the novoflex. It was very sturdy, but it was expensive and terribly designed. The L-bracket was fixed so it meant storing a weird shape, and it arrested the lens plate just via a pressure plate and some reliance on friction between metal parts. It was difficult to tell if something was truly locked down. If you end up having to do a lot of that, you should try something like CGsociety too. A lot of lower budget VFX uses stuff like that due to the inability to afford renting the devices that do full environment scans.
  5. CarlJ macrumors 68020


    Feb 23, 2004
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Before we sold my parent's home, I shot a whole bunch of pictures from a tripod in the center of each room (no stepper motor, just winging it), intending to make panoramic pictures out of these. Still haven't gotten around to it, but I did research the available applications:
    • Wikipedia has a Comparison of photo stitching software which is a good place to start.
    • AutoStitch is sort of the gold standard for iOS for stitching together panoramic photos, and they also have a Mac version (which I haven't looked into). It's just a "very wide image", not VR, but very good at what it does.
    • There is a company called Kolor that makes Autopano Pro for doing panoramas, and Panotour which hooks those panoramas together into "360 degree interactive virtual tours". This stuff is spendy, but very shiny - I think it gets used a lot by realtors.
    • A company called EasyPano makes QuickTime VR authoring software specifically for creating "VR Panoramas and Objects".
    • Two others which are relatively well recommended, that I chose to skip, but you may find of interest are: PanoEdit and Hugin.
    As I said, I haven't gotten back to this project, but my intent was to go with Panotour (and Autopano Pro). Spendy, but (to me at least) worth it to recreate the house I grew up in, in virtual form.
  6. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2012
    Spaceball One
    I use Hugin (as a total amateur, mind you), and it works really well, providing you have some overlap and rotate the camera pretty close to the focal point of the lens. Not for VR work, just panoramas but if it ends up you need some 360 stitching it's free and worth a shot.
  7. Steve-F macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2009
    QuickTime used to do VR's but sadly dropped many years ago.
    You should really think about where this is going to end up?
    If the final product is for web use then you'll want something that works across a range of browsers and sizes.
    I've previously used PTGui to stitch my panoramas (great for even hand held pans... but note stitching floor and ceiling images can be really hard) and Pano2VR to create the final output in various formats (Flash and HTML5).

  8. Padaung, Feb 11, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014

    Padaung macrumors 6502


    Jan 22, 2007
    I've used the Nodal Ninja R1 specialist head mounted to a tripod:

    You need to know the particular lens you will be using before purchasing the head because the lens bracket you need is specific to the lens.

    I used a 8mm Sigma lens found on eBay (mounted on a Nikon camera - the lens works with FX and DX bodies).

    I bracket each image and combine them using EnfuseGUI (free software).

    EnfuseGUI creates an HDR type image, but maintains realism - the effects can be very subtle, just giving you more detail in highlights and shadows without looking like a computer game.

    To stitch the images I used AutoPano Pro - very good and relatively quick and easy to get to grips with.

    For final assembly of the image into a interactive 'tour' I used Pano2VR. Kolor (makers of AutoPano Pro) also have a incredibly well featured tour creation program but it a lot more expensive than Pano2VR.

    In Pano2VR you can add patches for directly above and below the tripod, allowing for the totally seemless view all around and up and down from your point of view. Just don't forget to take the images above and below you when on site!

    It takes quite a while to get to grips with everything, and you'll make mistakes along the way but it is very rewarding when you finally get it right :)

    I appreciate you may not be wanting to spend a lot of money on specialist kit, so I hope you get even more suggestions for other solutions.

    Good luck, and enjoy.

    P.S. If you're making the tours for viewing on a website I'd skip making Flash tours, pretty pointless now imo. Pano2VR makes HTML5/Javascript tours which are great. It also makes Quicktime tours, but again like Flash, I'm not sure why you'd want to.

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