How do we make our virtual tours?

canon 5d mark II with a 15mm fisheye

Building a virtual tour can be divided up into three parts:

  1. The Photography
  2. The Stitching, Cleanup and Tripod Removal
  3. The Interface Design

STEP 1: The Photography

One photographer comes to your business with a camera and tripod. We don’t bring any lighting equipment. Rather, we use the natural lights in the room.

We use a fish-eye lens, and shoot 6 shots around and one shot straight up. The shots end up looking like this.

You can decide if you want people in the shots, or not. There are 2 ways to shoot a scene with people:

Staged Scenes — we’ll strategically place people all around the camera to best tell the story of that scene. When we turn the camera, the people in front of us need to be still for a few seconds while we click the shutter. All the other people in the room can relax until we turn the camera in their direction. Spin the sample staged scene above.

Organic Scenes — In scenes where we can’t stop the action, we’ll take a bunch of photos in every direction, then build a scene digitally in the computer. Spin the sample organic scene above.


Step 2: Stitching, Cleanup and Tripod removal

After we take the photography, we “stitch” the images together so that it looks seamless. We also color-correct the image and remove the tripod, so the room looks just like your real eyes would see it if your were actually there. The image below is called an equirectangular image. It contains all the data needed for a completely spherical view of the room.


STEP 3: The Interface Design

The last step is to build the virtual tour’s interface. We create a custom navigation system for your virtual tour, incorporating your branding guidelines. We’ll also insert all the marketing goodies that make a Circlescapes virtual tour so special. Those include:

  • campus maps
  • interactive hotspots (video clips, slideshows)
  • text descriptions
  • voice-overs
  • social media sharing links

The pictures above were used to create the music room spin at the International School of Denver. Below is the finished virtual tour in it’s interface.