A Virtual Tour offers a 360 degree simulation ‘at time of photography’ of a real-world area. Usually it comprises of a series of still images which are either captured using a single click device or through a professional DSLR camera and software to ‘stitch’ the imagery into panoramic stills. Panoramic or panorama is an unbroken view that creates the 360 imagery used with the virtual tour.
The Virtual Tour could also contain elements such as multimedia, arrows and text to highlight and talk about a certain area, service or product within the virtual tour. We call this an overlay as it sits on top of the virtual tour add a lot more interactivity for the end user.
At Compass Photography, for street and internal tours, we use professional DSLR cameras and take 21 still images in rotation to create the perfect panoramic image. Our camera has a special mount so we can rotate the image in all directions around the no parallax point (this represents the precise point at the back of the lens where light converges) and with our special wide angle or fisheye lens we capture the whole area. We take 3 images in each direction, this is called HDR or bracketed photography and the images are overlaid using specialist software so the image and therefore subject matter looks at its best.
Once the images are ‘stitched’ together, we run through a further editing process whereby we edit out number plates, faces and any customer or subject concerns.
A virtual tour can also be shot in video these days and uploaded to popular video platforms like YouTube. Video doesn’t have the same sort of quality as DSLR shot virtual tours but could be a consideration for an event such as a concert where movement and audio is needed.
The term virtual tour dates back to 1994 but the VR concept has been around even longer. Panoramic photography has certainly been around for many years possibly way back to the 1840s or even earlier.
These days of course the virtual tour has become common place with a variety of industries and technologies now being involved. We now have multi floor tours, VR through our mobile devices and easy to use navigation thanks to companies like Google seeing the potential of this service in the wider community.
The majority of customers we deal with want a Google Maps Street View virtual tour that sits within the popular Google Maps Street View service but there is flexibility to have a none Google hosted tour that sits elsewhere in the cloud or can even sit on your own hosting. The panoramic images that make up the virtual tour can be added to Facebook posts and spin around within the post. Apple, Bing and other companies are working toward their own virtual tour world so expect even more from this innovative and immersive experience going forward.
The virtual tour captures a place at that moment in time so can be a good history or it can be used so a supplier can estimate what size ladders they need to reach your lights or for staff to know the fire exits during an induction presentation. There are as you see many reasons for having a virtual tour, who hasn’t looked at their house on Google Maps Street View or looked up a holiday destination? Contact us today for more information on how a virtual tour would work for your business.
Visit our virtual tour page to see examples of our work