Archive for the ‘New Features’ Category

Thomas K Sharpless is well known in the panoramic world as one of the true pioneers of panoramic and VR photography. Thomas has an extensive background in computer programming and he has contributed  a number of techniques and ideas to the panoramic photography community, most notably the “Panini” projection.

Thomas has been a stereoscopic panoramas evangelist since 2014 and he has evangelized us too. 360Cities, with Thomas’ support, is pleased to launch stereoscopic panoramas – you can read more about stereoscopic panoramas on 360Cities here (link to help guide)

-Please can you briefly describe what 3D or stereoscopic panoramas are and how they are created?

Thomas K Sharpless

The right word for this type of photo is “stereoscopic”.  “3D” should be reserved for objects or spaces that really have 3 dimensions, not for images (though that misuse is very common).

A stereo photo is a pair of images, taken simultaneously with two lenses placed like our eyes, about 65 mm apart and looking in the same direction.  When presented to the two eyes by a stereoscope, these images give most people the impression of seeing a 3D space.  A stereo panorama is a pair of 360 degree images, which when viewed with synchronized pano viewers presents a stereo pair.  The most popular stereoscope for viewing stereo panoramas is a virtual reality headset.

Stereoscopic depth perception results from the brain comparing small shifts of position, called discrepancies, between the left and right images.  It is important to know that this process depends very strongly on the discrepancies of fine details and textures, as well as of the perceived outlines of objects.  And that about one person in 6 has little or no stereo depth perception.

The most obvious way to make a stereo panorama is to stitch together a series of stereo photos, taken by turning a pair of cameras.  But such photos will not easily stitch to two seamless spheres, because each series was taken from a moving viewpoint, not from a single fixed point as assumed by standard stitching software.

There are two basic ways to handle this problem:

  1. Take a large number of closely spaced stereo views.  Then the panorama contains just a narrow vertical strip from each photo.  If they are narrow enough, the errors between adjacent strips will be too small to see.  This method is very reliable but has problems with moving subjects.
  2.  Take a small number of stereo views, as for a regular panorama, and hide the errors by careful composition and masking.  Moving subjects can be handled by masking, as in normal panography.

Both of these methods have single-camera variants, that need a really static subject because the left and right views are taken at different times.

In any case, the stitching process must faithfully preserve the stereo discrepancies captured by the cameras.  That means the left and right images of each stereo pair must be aligned and warped the same; any variation will lead to “muddy” stereo views.  This matching requires special stitching techniques.  My PT3D software makes it easier to achieve.

-When and why did you begin to create stereoscopic panoramas?

I have long wanted to make stereo panoramas in forests, because it is so hard to see the space between the trees in 2D photos.  That is still a largely unrealized project.

I made my first stereo panoramas in late 2014, with the single-camera, many-views method.  At that time I was involved in a project using photogrammetry to build 3D models from sweep panoramas taken with iPhones, and I also experimented with rendering those as stereo panoramas.

By mid-2015, like several other panographers, I was using a stereo pair of small mirrorless cameras and the few-views, clever-stitching approach, which suited my preference for shooting ‘live’ scenes from a monopod.  The great difficulty of that method has led me to develop software that helps PTGui align and warp such panoramas much better than it can do on its own.

-Why do you think stereoscopic panoramas are so compelling? (this might be addressed in the question above)

Much more than conventional photos, 360 panoramas are about space.  So it is really satisfying to be able to ‘see’ the space in a stereo panorama.  This greatly enhances the sense of presence in a VR viewing situation, even without the full motion-parallax provided by a 3D model.  I have seen two people, when putting on a headset showing a stereo view of a big church, start walking forward — a sure sign of “presence”.  That never happened with a 2D version of the same image.

-How many photographers do you believe are currently creating stereoscopic panoramas and how large do you expect the community can become as VR adoption increases?

I know of about a dozen commercial panographers who produce stereo panoramas, and would guess that there are at least as many more unknown to me.  The facebook group “3D Stereo Panoramas” currently has 1,408 members.  More than 30 people have asked to be beta testers of PT3D, which will go commercial next month.  Its sales figures may tell the story better.  But in any case it is clear that interest in stereo panography is growing quite fast.

A big thanks to Thomas for this interview and his support.

At the recent IVRPA conference in Quebec, we announced that we will soon begin accepting 360º video. Our goal is to create a high quality, curated collection of 360º videos that will be of interest to both our licensing customers and to those of our distribution partner, Getty Images.

Now you can upload your best 360º videos to 360Cities

We have now launched 360 video pages (https://video.360cities.net/video_page.html?handle=angel-of-peace) that are similar to our panorama pages. We started by asking a few contributors to share some videos with us in order to create a small 360 Video Gallery.

Today we’re announcing the soft launch of 360º video to all 360Cities contributors
Please note that we are still working on our video converter and testing performance over a variety of devices, video formats, and video sizes, so we ask your understanding and patience if you experience any hiccups.

We will eventually promote this new collection to our website visitors and licensing customers, so any videos uploaded will be available for licensing by default. And of course, if we license any videos of yours, it will mean royalty payments for you.As this is a soft launch, and we are still working on the backend, we ask that you opt in by emailing Elena at info@360cities.net with subject line: “360ºVideo – Opt In”.

1. Once you are opted in
Once you opted in, you’ll see a new “Upload Video” link in the top menu of your account dashboard.

Upload-Video-Dashboard

2. Content guidelines and recommendations

You can upload videos of your choice, but we recommend the following types:

Places, Spaces, Landmarks, Places of Interest, Landscapes (Rural and Urban), The Unseen and The Inaccessible.Specific examples include:

Woodland, forests, deserts, beaches, fields, beautiful landscapes, snowy locations, ocean environments, urban street scenes, underwater, mountain views, bustling cities at night, lakes, rivers, iconic views, weather based content (raining/snowing/high winds), travel (planes/trains/automobiles), coral reefs, volcanic environments, landscape gardens, moorland, sports pitches (football/rugby/tennis/basketball/American football), sand dunes….

Create static videos of things around you in motion. Static videos are easier to create and less likely to cause motion sickness in VR.
Limit or avoid creator attribution (your name and logo) inside of your videos to increase their attractiveness in VR and their chances of being licensed.

3. Technical specifications

  • Format: .mp4, .m4v or .mov
  • Duration: 10 – 60 seconds
  • Aspect ratio: 2:1
  • Resolution: minimum resolution of 2048×1024
  • Audio: not required
  • Maximum size: 4GB

4. How to upload

  • We recommend that you use Google Chrome, because it shows accurate upload progress information.
  • Sign in to your account, go to the Dashboard and click the “Upload Video” link in the top menu.
  • Choose a thumbnail image and upload it. (The thumbnail image should be the same resolution as your video file.)
  • Add a title, description and tags, following the instructions given.
  • Click Save. Your 360º video will now be processed.
5. Report issues
Please report issues and suggestions for improvement to https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!forum/360cities under the category: “360º Video issues and questions”.
We look forward to building an awesome collection of 360º videos with you!

Regards,

The 360Cities Team

Install the new 360Cities Extension to your Chrome browser, just click here. You will be able to enjoy an interactive panorama on each tab you open in your browser. You’ll also be able to search on Google or 360cities.net.
It looks amazing, doesn’t it?

 

halong

loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 360Cities tab extension allows you to:


• View an interactive 360-degree photo on each new tab on your Chrome browser
• Pan 360 degrees around and 180 degrees up and down for a fully spherical view
• Zoom in and out to see amazing detail
• View the panorama in full screen
• Choose from six different projections and two navigation modes
• Click to view the profile page of the photographer on 360cities.net
• Share the panorama on social media and embed in your non-commercial website or blog
• Click on a shopping cart to license the image for editorial or commercial usage
• Search Google and 360Cities

 

 

martin

The PRO Panorama Page url feature allows you to share your panoramas without arrows pointing to nearby panoramas or other photographers’ panoramas and without thumbnails and ads. Just go to your unpublished or published panoramas and click on Edit > Other tab. There you’ll find the PRO Panorama Page url, copy it and share it.

pro_image_url

Note this feature is only available for PRO and COMPANY accounts.


PPP

The Annotation feature allows you to annotate your panoramas in order to provide details about a particular area inside the panorama. Just choose the spot where you want to set the icon on your panorama. Then, write a short text about that spot (max 200 characters) and/or paste a link.

 Annotations Feature – Edit Mode

Annotations Feature – Panorama page


 

Google Analytics is a great tool for tacking website performance. There are plenty of parameters and behaviors you can track in order to understand how users interact with websites and individual pages within websites.

Now you have the opportunity to add your Tracking ID to your 360Cities account (only for PRO and Company users) and start getting the stats of your panorama pages in your Google Analytics account.

 

 

  • What Google Analytics can do for you?

Google Analytics provides you with data and statistics about viewers who visit your panoramas. You will be able to see how many people view your panoramas, where they come from, how long they stay on your panorama pages and much more.

  • How to get your Google Analytics ID?

Access your existing Google Analytics account or create a new Google Analytics account. > At the top bar, select Admin.

There are three columns: Account, Property, and View. Go to the Property column, select the dropdown menu and then click on “create new property”.

You will have to answer some questions:

  • “What would you like to track?” -> Website
  • “Website Name” -> Whatever you want
  • “Website URL” -> Select https, enter www.360cities.net
  • “Industry category”, “Reporting Time Zone” -> Whatever you want
  • Click on “Get Tracking ID”

Scroll up to the top and you will be given an ID in the following format: UA-19566883-3

Copy and paste the ID you receive into the box on the page.

More info here. 

We have now made it possible for you to easily access all of your panorama details. By downloading a .csv file, you will see an overview of all of the data of your panoramas. This will allow you to keep better track of your images, their status, and their metadata. At a glance you’ll be able to check if any of your panoramas is unpublished, if descriptions, titles or tags are missing. All you need to do is click on “Download .csv summary”.

 

Captura de pantalla 2015-09-01 a las 11.47.50.png

 

Captura de pantalla 2015-09-01 a las 12.05.33.png

 

Note this feature is only available for PRO and COMPANY users.

Advertising agencies, digital publishers, mobile and VR developers among others all use 360Cities to search for and license panoramas for use in campaigns, publications, games etc. You can increase the chances that your images will be selected for licensing by our customers by asking the following questions:

 

  1. Are your images enabled for licensing? It’s easy to do – here’s how.

  2. Have you added tags to all your images? Our customers often do searches specific to the type of image, or image content, and not simply geographic location. Adding tags helps them find your images.

  3. Have you entered your metadata correctly? Correctly spelled titles, a good description, and proper map placement all increase the chances of your images being licensed. Read all about proper metadata here.

  4. Have you published any panos recently? Probably the single most important thing you can do to increase your chances of licensing panoramas is to publish lots of beautiful, well-executed images of remarkable and interesting places and events – wherever you are!

If any of your images have been licensed in the past, you will have received a royalty payment from 360Cities via Paypal. Now you can review details of your licensing history in your account page by clicking Settings / Licensing.

 

We are pleased to present a new compass feature for those panoramas which have an edited heading. A letter “N” for North will be visible on the compass on the lower left corner of the panorama.

 

It’s easy to select the new option:

  • Go to panorama > edit and edit the heading as before. Tick the box “Show Heading on embedded compass.”

 

Heading, Show heading on embedded compass

 

Then, your panorama will display the N in the compass control:

 North Compass

 

Q: I have hundreds/thousands of panoramas, do I have to do that with each panorama manually?

A: No, you don’t have to. You can use the batch edit mode.

Account dashboard >  Batch edit > select the images > and then select “Show Heading on embedded compass for all selected panoramas”, and click on “Edit images!”.

In an effort to improve our responsiveness to photographers’ issues and ideas and in order to provide better visibility into our own performance, we have just launched a new tool.

As a photographer you’ll have two ways to contact us:

 

1.- Contact support: Send us a message and report a issue or ask for help. We’ll contact you within 24 hours (usually less)! Please, don’t forget to include any useful info: user ID, screenshot, operating system, browser, error message…

 

Captura de pantalla 2015-03-10 a las 10.16.19.png

 

2.- Suggestions and ideas: Now there is a new way to share your ideas: Give Feedback.  Share your idea with the community and give points to it or to any other photographer’s idea. By doing so, we will have better insight into what is important to you.

 

Captura de pantalla 2015-03-10 a las 10.19.37.jpg

As a photographer, you have two ways to access to the Feedback and Help Desk tool from your dashboard:
                                                                                      

FAQ

– Do I have to Sign in the new service? Do I have to add all my data there?
– No. Just sign in with your 360Cities account. Fast and easy!

– Will the 360Cities Forum be closed?
– No. The Forum is a great tool for photographers to communicate with each other, have discussions about tech or artistic issues, and share news about panoramic photography… But we’d like you to send your reports and suggestions via the new 360Cities support.