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


  1. Needless to say that this is aw?som? blog, congrats.
    Still a quick question pops up about and is about preparing yourself before writing an article.
    Are there any techniques involved?
    A client of mine is asking me to write articles for
    that would be paid with $5 . Thanks for sharing any tools and tips.

  2. Thanks.. Well there are several points you should keep in mind like making your point in a concise manner. For e.g. when I explain a new idea to anyone (especially verbally), I count the fingers on my hand to remind myself that I should try and communicate the idea within 5 sentences as far as possible.

    For written communication, use bullet points and illustrative pictures. Avoid grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Organize the ideas in a proper sequence.