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A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO I created a 360 degree scrollable & zoomable panorama of the property I bought in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. The actual process of creating this panorama was surprisingly easy. The harder part was researching the tools I needed to do it.

So to save you some time, I’ll let you know how I did it.

Step 1 – Shoot your photos

First, take a series of photos with a 360 degree view of your subject. A tripod is the best way to do this. Just rotate the camera around. You need to make sure there is some overlap between the images so that they can be stitched together with no missing pieces.

Afterwards, download the photos from your camera to one folder on your computer.

Step 2 – Pick your 360 photo software

You’ll need a program to stitch the images together into one wide panorama shot. There are, of course, many tools out there for creating a 360 panorama (you may have even gotten some with your camera software).

Programs like Photoshop will let stitch photos together, but the process is time-consuming and imperfect. Instead I looked for a program that was both easy to use and free to download, which is why I settled on AutoStitch.

The panorama I’ll show you how to create is a cylindrical shot (what you’d see if you pasted a series of pictures inside a tube). You can also create a spherical panorama so you can scroll in any direction. I haven’t tried one of these yet.

Step 3 – Stitch the photos together

Autostitch does everything for you. I used almost all the default options for my Puerto Viejo property panorama.

Click Edit, Options to see the options. I changed the scale to 50% to create a larger higher quality result than the 10% defaulted. That is with my 3 megapixel camera. You may need a different setting depending on the result you want and how big an image your camera creates.

To stitch the images all you need to do is select File –> Open and multiselect the images you want to stitch. Everything else happens automatically!

The program does some processing to find the edges between the pictures and produces a file named “pano.jpg” in the same directory as your images (make sure to rename this file when you’re done as it will overwrite it if you try to make a second panorama in the same folder later).

Step 4 – Transform it into a scrollable video

Lastly, you’ll need a program to turn that single wide image into a scrollable and zoomable video. Here I use Pano2QVTR – you can download a free and pro version.

When it opens click start a new project. Again, there are many settings you can change here along with features such as “adding hotspots” and sound to your image. But again used the defaults for my panorama. The only thing I changed was to make a larger 800Ã-600 Quicktime image rather than the default 400Ã-300. This will increase the processing time, but it’s worth it to have a larger, more interesting panorama.

That’s it, you’re done!

The only problem I ran into was with another picture set. Autostitch seemed to stop halfway around the circle and gave me more like 180 degree instead of 360 degree. It’s likely I screwed up somewhere taking the photos and it couldn’t find the link between one photo and the next. Try to avoid this problem by taking a few variations on your photos so you have a variety to choose from if one of the views isn’t working.

Happy panorama-ing!

Check out the World Wide Panorama Map for some other mind-blowing examples of 360 degree panoramas.

* With experienced faculty, a robust curriculum, and an active and networking community of fellow photographers, the MatadorU Travel Photography program will teach you how to become a travel photographer.

* This post was originally published on November 26, 2006.

About The Author

Doug Dosdall

Doug Dosdall is a travel writer and travel website designer based in Vancouver, BC but with an addiction to warm winters in Latin America. His web design company is DohMedia and his latest projects are www.PuertoVallartaSatellite.com and www.PuertoViejoSatellite.com.

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  • http://www.virtualworld360.blogspot.com virtualworld360

    Hi, I came across your interesting post and thought you might want to check out our 360 widgets. We are using a mixture of equirectangular projections and stills with audio and voice commentary, currently we have 4 different widgets to choose from which have been designed to fit in a blog sidebar or post, have a look in our gallery and let me know what you think. Regards Fraser Cairns

  • nick hoang

    i just want to say thank you, such a useful post

  • http://www.idioimagers.org ryan libre

    thanks, very helpful. one thing is, on your panoVR its obvious the photos were different brightnesses and taken at different exposures. try setting you camera to Manual if it has that setting. its the only way to insure your photos are exposed the same. thanks again!

  • http://kapalic.wordpress.com kapalic

    Great and usefull post. I was just searching for a free software to create 360 photos, and found link here.

    Thank you very much.

  • http://www.pkwebbs.com Prakash N

    Great and such a wonderful post. I was looking for a similar kind of software for my clients website. Now i Gotta it from your post.
    Thanks once again.

  • maria

    do you know about a free software for mac users??

  • http://www.bsb8.com niko

    thank you for the post,

    i want to ask, is there possible to put some certain node/button in the middle of the picture/movie to be used as a link to another movie/file?

    thanks again

  • http://www.feelsuccessful.com Sergio

    Your post has been very helpful. I´ve wanted to do panoramics of outdoors to share with my friends and did not know how. Very clear explanation.

    Thanks

  • http://www.flypark.cl gerardo sanchez

    Very helpful, thanks a lot.
    greets from chili

  • Guy Lafond

    I wasn’t expecting such an friendly free software for 360 photos! I made a very crude test without a tripod in my living room and the result was amazing. Thanks for taking the time to do this, very much appreciated! We are soon taking a trip to New York City, this will be a great place for panoramic 360 photos! Guy

  • http://www.holidaysfromhome.co.uk Claire

    Wow! I wanted to do these; but didn’t know how. Thank you so much. The only problem I’m having is my video is blurred. Any ideas on what I’ve done wrong?

  • David

    This isn’t 360 panorama and I think your advice is misleading for a beginner. Its just normal panorama. If you wanted to do 360 pano, you’d need special equipment (specifcally a pano head) to rotate the camera on its nodal point, Just thought I’d point out 360 pano photos are not as simple as you mentioned,

  • http://www.paradisecoorg.com deeps

    hi,

    its a very nice tip that i got from your page that, now i can work on my panoramic pics…

    Thanks a lot

  • Rodolfo Oviedo

    Hello, your tutorial is amazing, I was surfing the web so hard to find a software to make a 360° picture, and finally I found this spot. Thanks a lot!!! Congrats for buying a property in Costa Rica, I’m from Costa Rica too.

  • http://tourismpicks.com Mike Behnken

    Thank you very much, this is exactly waht I was looking for. I would also like to know how to do it so it’s not a video but controlled by the mouse…. do you have a solution for this?

  • Mahdieh Sb

    hello i really need such a software to turn my 360 degree images to scrollable video but ‘ Pano2QVTR ‘ this software not works, coz it’s not possible to import images, do u have any solution to me? or if you could help me by introducing other suitable website ..
    TQ

  • http://Google Dijay Callaghan

    i have made several ‘flat’ panoramas and would like to stitch the ends together to make 360 cylindrical panoramas. How can I do this?

  • http://www.productcapture.co.uk tim heat

    I usually have difficulties with pano images. Mainly due to not having the correct tripod head. I found this top 10 360° photography tips blog. There’s a few useful things on there. http://360photographytop10.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.isoftway.com Muthu

    I was not able to understand how 360 view pictures were made in movies now i got the idea how they are being made. thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  • http://www.eyalg.com/ Eyal Gurevitch

    AutoStitch is, indeed, an amazing tool,
    not only as a free tool, but compared to the expensive ones as well…

  • Vijay Kumar

    I just searching for a free software to create 360 photos,

  • Dharmeshms Dharma

    thanks for the auto stitch software….

  • Javed Iqbal

    Thanks

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