Interactive panorama with Pano2VR
Once you capture and stitch your first equirectangular image or a classic panorama (a long image that offers a 360° horizontal field of view but limited vertical viewing capabilities), you can easily turn it into an interactive panorama with Pano2VR. These kind of panoramas have become extremely popular in recent years, and many companies now specialise in creating virtual tours for commercial purposes. There is, of course, other equally good software available on-line, but this tutorial will guide you through simple steps of creating your first interactive panorama with Pano2VR. Speaking from my own experience, I think Pano2VR is really simple and intuitive and can be used by people with limited experience in interactive panoramic photography or even absolute beginners. In this tutorial, I will show you my favourite Pano2VR features which you can easily incorporated into a simple and effective workflow in order to create a functional interactive panorama. Then, you can expand upon this tutorial and explore other more advanced features of Pano2VR, compiled in a comprehensive list of official tutorials.
As you can see, the main interface is clearly divided into separate windows numbered 1-5 below, and next we will discuss the most essential options and controls in 5 steps: Input, Viewing Parameters, User Data, Sounds and Output.
Step 1: Input
Launch Pano2VR and simply drag-and-drop your panorama onto the field in the top left corner. If you are using an equirectangular image which has a 2:1 ratio (the length is twice the size of height) the software will automatically recognise the input image type and you will be able to create an interactive panorama that offers a full 360° horizontal and 180° vertical field of view. If your image doesn’t have a 2:1 ratio, you will still be able to create an interactive panorama, but Pano2VR will recognise the input image as cylinder and your panorama will offer limited vertical viewing capabilities. The same principle applies to a classic panorama stitched from fewer images, which doesn’t offer a full 360° horizontal field of view.
Step 2: Viewing Parameters
The next set of settings concerns the Viewing Parameters numbered 2 in the screen above. Simply click on ‘Modify’ and a separate window will appear.
Here, you can adjust the Viewing Parameters and Limits of your panorama. On the left side, a preview image appears so you can see how your changes affect the image. Adjust the Pan and Tilt values in order to change the initial position of the panorama as well as the visible FoV (Field of View). In other words, all these values affect the way your panorama window will look like when the panorama loads.Then, adjust the Limits, which control how much you can zoom in and out while viewing the panorama. The Min. value indicates the extend to which you can zoom in and the Max. value the extend to which you can zoom out. It’s probably a good idea to keep the Min. value above 50 as the image quality tends to deteriorate when zooming in really close.
Step 3: User Data
These settings are really straightforward. Just click on ‘Modify’ in field 3 and input all the essential information about your panorama. This is especially important if you are planning to publish your panorama on the Internet as it provides all the information including the author and copyright.
Step 4: Sounds
Personally speaking, these are my favourite controls. Here you can assign custom sounds as well as background music to your panorama. Just click on ‘Modify’ in field 4 and a separate window will appear.
In the bottom of the screen, you can select an MP3 file from your computer that will play as background music and indicate the sound level.
On the right, on the other hand, you can define custom directional sounds. That means that the sounds will only play once you face a certain direction while viewing your panorama. This is a really useful feature and you can use different sounds such as birds, wind, water etc. that will play while viewing your panorama. First, double-click on the preview window to add a sound. Hold the right-click and move your mouse to look around the panorama to add more sounds. Once you add a sound, an icon will appear and then you can assign an MP3 file to this icon. Just click on ‘Open’ and choose an MP3 file you want to play while facing this direction in the panorama. Next, choose either ‘Directional Rectangular’ or ‘Directional Circular’, or other options from the drop-down menu, to define how the sound will travel across the panorama. Moreover, you can adjust the sound level, making some sounds louder than other, and if the sound is too short you can loop it. Finally, adjust the Horizontal, Vertical and Field Size to define the intensity and range of the sounds in your panorama.
It is advisable not to embed the MP3 files in the panorama and use them as separate files. In the past, I had some problems with embedding the MP3 files and, as a result, they simply wouldn’t play. Just remember that the MP3 files should always be kept in the same folder as your final output panorama whether you are viewing it on your computer or uploading to your website.
Step 5: Output
Finally, in field 5, select the output type (HTML or Flash) from the drop-down menu and click on ‘Add’. Next another window will appear with some more options. However, at this stage you are only interested in the ‘Settings’ and ‘Advanced Settings’ tabs on the top of the screen.
Again, the interface is clearly divided into separate fields.
Under the ‘Settings’ tab the following options are available:
Tile settings: Adjust the size of the tiles and increase the overall quality of your panorama
Window: Adjust the size of the panorama viewing window
Auto Rotate: This is another of my favourite features in Pano2VR. Here you can enable auto rotation and adjust other useful settings such ‘Speed’, ‘Delay’ (which will delay the auto rotation) and ‘Return to Horizon’ (an option which will level the panorama back to the initial position if you decide to navigate away from the horizon).
Skin: The skin editor allows you to edit an existing skin or even create your own skin from scratch. At this stage, however, just select a default skin from the drop-down menu.
Under the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab the only important settings that are important to you at this stage are the ones concerning the way you control your panorama viewing.
Here you can adjust the mouse sensitivity, disable specific mouse and keyboard controls and allow the panorama to access the Internet.
Finally, click on OK and Pano2VR will generate the final output file. If, after viewing your panorama you would like to change some settings just go back to field 5 and click on the ‘Parameters’ icon. Next, change the settings and Pano2VR will generate the output file again. Here you can also view your panorama using your web browser or delete it.
This is it. You have created your first interactive panorama. Below are some examples of my interactive panoramas with both ambient music and directional sounds. Just follow the link, click on the ‘Play’ icon below the image and turn your speakers on.
Once you have created your first interactive panorama you will probably ask yourself what the next step is. Well, if you have some experience in website building you can set up your website or blog to boast your interactive images. Just take a look at these amazing websites run by some of the greatest panoramic professionals.
Sven Fennema’s Living Pictures: a collection of interactive panoramas shot in stunning locations
Sam Rohn 360 Panoramic Photography: another collection of interactive panoramas from all over the globe
Omer Calev’s: panoramas portraying ordinary people at work
I’m currently running a blog devoted to panoramic photography myself.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.