Monday, December 10, 2012

Making of virtual tour of IIM Shillong

Hi... Before you read forward, it would be nice if you could visit the Virtual Tour of IIM Shillong to comprehend what I am talking about. This tour took me about a month to prepare as it was the first virtual tour I worked on from end-to-end, so I had to learn the process myself, and also because I had to find time for other activities at college. 

In this post I will be discussing briefly what goes into the making of such virtual tours. Firstly, you will need the following: -
  1. A camera with good lens. Image resolution is not very important. Even 3 MP would do. I used Nikon COOLPIX P500. Normal cameras can be used for making cylindrical panoramas, whereas special Fish-eye lens are available for spherical panoramas
  2. A good, stable tripod. If you want to purchase these gadgets, you can find some latest deals by clicking this advt below. 
  3. A software for stitching (or weaving) the individual images of panorama. I used Panorama Maker 6, which has a 15 day trial period. 
  4. A website for hosting the panoramas. I tried a free website initially called Panogio. Individual panoramas can be easily uploaded on it. Then I shifted to another paid website called Virtual Tour Architect which provides much better features. 
Okay, here's how you start about. 
1. Decide the location where you would like to take the panorama shots. The location should be chosen with care. Avoid small rooms or places where certain objects are located close by as they are difficult to stitch into a panorama. Also spots where one side is exposed to bright sun and another side is in the dark are difficult (though not impossible) to stitch. (Check Tip # 1)

2. Fix the tripod and the camera on it: Most good cameras come with inbuilt threading on the base, which enables it to be screwed on to the tripod. In case it is absent, use the tripod only for support. Also, it is better to click portrait pics rather than landscape pics, in order to cover wider vertical angle.  

3. Shooting: Shoot the first pic and rotate the camera by a small angle of say 30 deg. horizontally to take the second pic. A considerable amount of the first pic should overlap with the next pic in order to stitch the panorama. Do so continuously until you complete a whole circle such that a part of the last pic overlaps with the first pic. It is not always necessary to rotate by the same angle but maintaining an approximate angle of 30 deg. leads to 12-13 pics. Setting up the tripod and taking the pics at one location takes about 5-10 mins based on your expertise. 

4. Stitching using a Panorama weaving software: Transfer the images from the camera to your PC and use a Panorama stitching software (I used Panorama Maker 6) to weave the panoramic image. Initially stitch the image using Auto-stitch option and in case of finer adjustments use the manual stitch option to adjust the nodal points and blending. Also try out other options like Align points and Preview the panorama before saving it as a .jpeg file.

5. Hosting the panorama: Hosting individual panoramas on free websites is easy. Check this out. In case you want to make an integrated tour like the one you saw at the start of this blog, then you would have to use a paid site like Virtual Tour Architect. Watch this video to understand few basic features. 

Based on my experience, here are some more tips for making good panoramas:
  1. Dealing with bright and dark shots in the same panorama: Choose a starting location that is directly opposite to the direction of sun. It helps to stitch the images later. Also, use manual settings. 
  2. Good start: A job well begun is half done. So if the photos are taken properly, i.e. they blend well with one-another, then photo-stitching is easy. Most of the time auto-stitching suffices. 
  3. Avoid moving objects: Try to avoid moving objects, especially people because this can lead to distortion of some of their body parts. Check this out. 
Thank you for reading this post. Do leave your feedback in the comments below or mail me

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Marketing strategy

A couple of days back, one of our faculty instructors was explaining the concept of cost-quality-time triangle. According to this concept, if a company increases say the quality of a product, then the cost as well as time-to-market increases. On the other hand, in order to reduce the cost and time-to-market, the company will have to reduce the quality. 

It might be surprising for some, but companies in fact follow the second strategy and that too very shrewdly. Assume, for example, that a particular consumer measures the quality of a hand-wash pack in terms of its cleansing ability and the amount of liquid available per unit price. A company may not change the liquid fill, but may reduce the amount of liquid filled per pack and also reduce the price slightly. Initially if a company sells 250ml for INR 49/- and subsequently reduces the price to INR 28/- for 135ml fill, then the % decrease in price is just 42.8% whereas size reduces by 46% and consumers are more attracted by the reduced price, so the sales increase.

I inquisitively happened to open the cap and realized that though the bottle looked big, it was only about 2/3rd filled. (See the picture below carefully). The net volume was indicated as 135ml whereas it could accommodate even a 185ml pack that is sold as a refill pack for INR 34/- (The company also sells a 250ml bottle for which the same 185ml refill pack can be used). 

In order to compliment this strategy, the company sells the liquid wash in an opaque white bottle, so that the level of liquid is not visible even when held against a bright source of light.

This marketing strategy is used by almost all FMCG companies and is a very successful and proven strategy, so in future whenever you see a reduction in price, don't forget to check the reduction in size! :)