Home 360º Virtual Tours 360º Virtual Tours: A Primer
360º Virtual Tours: A Primer

While 360º virtual tours are not something new, I have found a way of using many specialized tools, from taking the photos and stitching them together to post processing and wrapping it in a format that can be used on many media such as the web, CDs and even portable devices such as phones.

[Click here to view an example of the 360º virtual tour] 

These tools have made making these virtual tours extremely reliable and relatively quick compared to other all-in-one solutions, while retaining the highest image quality available. 

Due to file size constraints, the details that can be seen on the virtual tours on this website are a fraction of the details that can be viewed on the original images. A full resolution virtual tour would be good enough for HD viewing.

Here is the process I use to create a virtual tour file:

  • Take six shots with a fish-eye lens that cover the 360 degrees of horizontal view, and one upper shot ("zenith") and another one straight down ("nadir") to complete the 180 degrees of vertical view.
  • The photos are then processed to match their white balance, colour and exposure, so that the panoramic view will appear seamless.
  • The images are then stitched into an equiangular panoramic projection (a 360x180 degree image that can be viewed in a 2D plane).
  • Equiangular panoramas are then wrapped using either Quicktime VR or Flash for a 3D virtual tour interaction.

With advances in virtual tour software, it is possible now to do a complete walk-through virtual tour by connecting multiple virtual tours into a single file and use hot-spots to guide the users where they can roam.

The next thing I'm working on is adding sound to the the virtual tours which will have a stereo panning feature relative to where you're looking within the virtual tour. Sound will be centered if you're looking at the sound source and will fade out in a surround manner depending on the direction of the movement.

Also, HTML5 is believed to permit even more virtual tour features and will make it easier to view the same virtual tour from virtually any web browser without the need to download Flash or Quick Time components.

It's definitely an enjoyable thing to do. The feedback I have had from visitors of friendshiparabia.com is greatly appreciated and I will try my best to bring our readers more places to visit virtually and with more interactions in the future.