Creating a Panoramic Photo - A Step-By-Step Guide

September 23, 2010 - Panoramic photography has been around for a long time, but at epic, we have taken it to a whole new level. Now, you can experience high resolution full screen panoramic images for a viewing experience that is the next best thing to being there. To make the environment even more interesting, we can add interactive elements such as web links, photos, video, 3D graphics, music and animations.  We call it Interactive Immersive Photography.
So how do we do this? It takes a team of us to create a panoramic photo including a photographer, photographer’s assistant, production artist, and programmer. Here is a step-by-step description of what is involved.

  1. Scout the Location – When we meet with a client we ask them to show us around. We are looking for one or more locations that will work best for a 360 degree panoramic photo.  Often, we will find a spot that has a great view in one direction, but lacks interest in another. We next try to determine what time of day would be best to take the photo. Sometimes we will need to bring in models to make the scene more interesting. We always try to “pre-visualize” the end result to determine what parts of the photo would be best for “Hot Spots” such as web links photos or video.
  2. Take the Panoramic Photo – we arrive at the site with some specialized gear which includes a heavy duty tripod, a calibrated nodal head with spirit level, a DSLR camera with an ultra wide angle lens, a remote controlled shutter release, and other accessory items. Sometimes, we may bring additional lights or strobes to bring out details in the shadows.   For a panoramic photo, we typically take 6 – 8 shots holding the camera in a vertical (portrait) position. We also rotate the camera up and down and shoot a number of shots to insure we have all angles of the scene covered. Many times we have to wait for the lighting to be just right. We may also need to wait for an element that is key to telling the story of an environment (example – waiting for the Waterway Taxi to come sailing down the River). At a shoot, we may take 3-4 panoramic photos to insure we have a great one.
  3. Post Production Processing - We use several specialized programs to “stitch” or bring together each of the individual photos in the panoramic shot. The challenge for our production artist is to make the seams invisible, color correct the image, and remove any distracting elements (trash, wires, etc.). This can take anywhere from an hour to several hours depending on the complexity of the panoramic photo.
  4. Programming – Once the panoramic photo is complete, our programmer needs to add in any “hot spots” that the client has requested. We position icons in the scene showing where the hot spots are, then add photos, web links, graphics or video clips. The panoramic photo is then made ready for use online.
  5. Uploading and Testing – The panorama is then uploaded to a web server and tested using several browsers. 
On the Woodlands Virtual Tour web site, you can view a number of panoramic photos.  Just click on an thumbnail or select one from the dropdown box. Then, click and drag your mouse to move around the panorama, and your scroll wheel to zoom in and out.   When you find a hot spot icon, click on it for additional information. 
To see additional examples of this technology, click here to visit the portfolio section of the epic software group web site.


Category: Photography,