You first need 360 panoramic software to stitch your images.
We typically take 26 photos per aerial panorama or ground based panorama. The photos are taken in 3 rows of 8 images and two final vertical / ground images each at 90 degrees to the previous image.
This allows for a good overlay of the images, so the stitching points on the overlapping area can be found and pinpointed.
There are three free panorama software packages that we have looked at. The best is Hugin, which works with both Mac and Windows operating systems.
The other two are Easypano (Panoweaver) and Microsoft ICE (Image composite editor) both only work with the windows operating system.
All of the free software is limited in their features and with the exception of Hugin did not do an acceptable job in stitching our images.
Spherical is the geometric projection to choose to produce a stitched virtual tour.
Both are excellent offering a standard version and a Professional version. You can also try a free version before you buy which has their name branding over the finished panorama.
Kolor is a French company that is now owned by GoPro.
We bought and use the PTGui Pro version for all of our 360 aerial panoramas and ground based 360 panoramas.
To confuse the buyer Kolor’s basic version is AutoPano Pro and their professional version is called Autopano Giga.
The prices of the software are comparable with one priced in euros and the other in pounds.
Autopano Pro €99 PTGui Standard £84
Autopano Giga €199 PTGui Pro £158
The professional versions from both companies have important extra features like photo blending and ghost removal. So we recommend you buy either one of the Professional versions.
Then when you have got your 360 pano stitched you then need to finish it. A ground based panorama will have part of the floor missing where the tripod was and the aerial 360 panorama will have a part of the sky missing where the drone was.
This missing area on the ground is called the Nadir and the missing area in the sky is called the Zenith.
To cover over either the Nadir or Zenith hole there are two alternatives.
- Use a color patch which sometimes contains the photographers details;
- Repair the hole using an extra image or repair with Photoshop.
Virtual Tour Software
The most spectacular presentation of a panorama is the virtual tour or 360° photography. It is the most amazing format to show panoramas in an interactive way.
When you are viewing a virtual tour, it is possible to interact with the panorama moving round on all directions using your mouse or finger, from the floor to the ceiling.
It is possible to zoom in or out on the image, and click on hot spots to move through to another room or click to read information or run a video.
Kolor have their own version of this virtual tour software called Panotour or Panotour Pro priced at €74.25 and €399 for the Pro version.
This product produces spectacular 360 virtual results but there are other products available online.
These other alternatives act like an interface and browser on which you download your panorama.
Here are a few examples:
Spinattic Free $150 per year
Round.me Free $99 per year and image upgrade for $5
360Cities Free €49 -€179
All three have a free account and paid account option which offers additional features. We have accounts with all three and they work well for our clients.
In summary there is a level of investment if you want to do quality 360 virtual panoramas and don’t underestimate the time to learn the skills to stitch and download your panorama.