Tutorial

There are a lot of tutorials to be found at the net, but I wanted to make my own anyway.

Many of the tutorials on the net are based upon old versions of both software and equipment. The workflow to achieve perfect VR-panoramas have been drastically reduced over the past few years. I now use PTGui PRO v7.3 for stitching and making the equirectangular image, that Pano2QTVR v1.63 then can convert to a mov-file for QuickTime.

Above: Screenshot from PTGui showing how images will be stitched together (3 of them highlighted). This particular panorama was made from 18 images (2 rows of 9 images shot with a Canon 20D and Sigma 15 mm diagonal fisheye). You can see that there are substantial "warping" of each image to be made in order to obtain a equirectangular image.

Below: Her is another sample of warping. This image shows how "distortion" (warping) the stitching software has to be performed on each images in order to make the them fit into a spherical panorama. The wider lens you use, the more it has to be warped. (You can see the finished panorama under "Panoramas of Norway" -> "Telemark" (Lietorvet shopping mall in Skien) )

I made a lot of panoramas before I bought my first panohead, many with good results (when there was no near objects...) I now have the Pano head v3 panohead (read about hardware and software under "Links") and the difference are huge. All stitching are now close to perfect, even when I make panoramas from small rooms.

This tutorial/check list is partly based upon MY equipment, and MY software.

Equipment
  • Camera...
  • Computer...
  • Tripod w/ball head
  • Panohead (se "links")
  • Preferably a remote control (especially for long exposure times).

 

 

Se more about panoheads under "Links"

Pano head v3 from Jasper Engineering seems to have it all.

Software
  • Program to stitch images to panorama (See "links"). I recommend PTGui
  • Program to make stitched panoramas to mov-file (se "links"). I recommend Pano2QTVR

Simply the best stitching software there is...

Shooting images Your camera must have manual abilities:
  • Manual focus! (Choose an average value for the scene), or use "Bracketing" (PTGui now support bracketed images)
  • Manual aperture! (Choose an average value for the scene. Use a small/medium aperture like F8 or F11)
  • Manual shuttertime!
  • Manual white balance! (Preferably, choose and set WB manual, Or, choose a preset according to the light conditions)
  • Manual ISO!
Stitching images PTGui is pretty straight forward, but you can control a lot of manual setting, if you want to.
  • Transfer images to computer and rotate them correctly (not always necessary, but easily done with various image editing software (rotate all at one time)
  • Open PTGui, and load images
  • Run "Generate control points".
  • "Panorama Editor" opens, and hopefully show you a correct panorama. If not, you can switch to "Edit individual images" and move wrongly placed images roughly to were they should be. PTGui does the fine-tuning for you.
  • Click "Create panorama". (Choose "Optimum size" and filename first).
  • If the panorama is a 360-degree-panorama, PTGui discover this, and crops it correctly. If, not, you have to crop it in an image editor when it is finished.
  • Open the pano in an image editing program an add some canvas in the bottom of the image, and put your logo/name there.
  • Do whatever adjustments you want (color adjustments, sharpening, brightness and contrast). Remember that sharpening increase file size, and you don't want that...?
  • If you want to present your VR-panorama as both small, medium and large as I do, adjust image size and save at various sizes. (I use image heights at 6000, 3000 and 1500 pixels)
  • Don't use image compression lower than 90%. You choose this in the next program.
Making the mov-file
  • Open "Pano2QTVR" and create a project.
  • Choose image and the output filename.
  • Add MP3 sound (ocean, birds, wind...?) and hotspots as you like.
  • Choose image compression at your choice. I use 70 for large, 60 for medium and 50 for small which gives me mov-files at apprx. 6 mB, 2 mB and 0.75 mB (When the starting point is 18 ea. 8.2 megapixel images)
Publish
  • Make  a new page on your website.
  • Place the mov-file in the same folder
  • Paste the HTML-code below to your site.
  • Edit the mov-name
<object classid="clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B"
codebase="http://www.apple.com/qtactivex/qtplugin.cab"
height="92%" width="99%" border="2">
<param name="SRC" value="My_livingroom-office_large.mov">
<param name="SCALE" value="tofit">
<param name="CONTROLLER" value="true">
<embed src="My_livingroom-office_large.mov" controller="true" scale="tofit"
pluginspage="http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/"
height="100%" width="100%" border="0"></object>

Edit height and width percentage if you want the fullscreen panorama to fill the screen. (I  use a frame page, with a border (frame) in top and bottom, so I use a little less than 100%. It's easy when you use use Frontpage...
 

That's all! Good luck. Practice makes perfect!

Panosaurus panohead (now Jasper), Canon 20D (now 40D), Sigma EX 15 mm diagonal fisheye lens.

(Click for large view)

  • Canon EOS 20D now 40D)
  • Peleng 8 mm fisheye
  • Sigma EX 15 mm fisheye
  • Sigma EX 50 mm F2.8 macro
  • Sigma EX 105 mm F2.8 macro
  • Sigma 18-125 mm
  • Canon 75-300mm IS USM
  • Canon 420/550 EX flashes
  • Kenko extension tubes
  • Filters, reflectors, close-up lenses, remote controller ++

Additional tips/comments/info:

With a full frame DSLR and a true fisheye you can theoretically cover a full VR-panorama with only 2 shots, but the stitching software need some overlapping areas to do the job. 3-5 images is needed, depending on how much of the zenith,-(straight up) and nadir area (straight down) you want to cover.

True fisheyes (on a full frame Camera) area ideal when there are moving objects in the scene (people, cars, clouds), or when extreme resolution is not needed.

When you are using "ordinary" super wide angle lenses, you need to take two full turns (6-15 images in each row). This will give you very high resolution, and it will take some minutes to take all the images. First row with pointing downwards, and second row with camera pointing upwards.

It's important that your panorama head is leveled properly. If not, more of the resulting image will be lost ("cropped away").

 

Updated august 16, 2008 14:39