Full spherical, 360 degree


cross platform

Tutorial Author:
Kathy Wheeler

How ==>


Working Demo


Netscape users: due to a bug in the way Netscape renders CSS positioning [within nested <DIV> elements] some links may appear not to be active or not work properly. Rather than re-work the page around this bug, I've included duplicate links where necessary, denoted by a navigator icon, for your convenience, and sincerely hope Netscape get around to fixing this bug in later releases.

Link for Navigator userPanorama Tools

Link for Navigator userPete's Tutorial

How was it produced:

In a slight fit of pique last Sunday afternoon (20th June, 1999) I took my old, standard issue Olympus D-200L digital camera out into my back yard, and took a series of 65 photographs (5 rows of thirteen, or actually 13 strips of 5) at LOW RES (320x200), TOTALLY FREEHAND. No tripod, no fisheye lens, no fancy gear, no expensive software, only rough eyeball alignment for overlap.

The starting point for each set was aligning the middle image - eyeballed at 0 degrees (looking forward), then a series of 5 images shot starting from almost straight up (at about 70 - 75 degrees as it turns out), then 4 more working down, allowing eyeballed overlap. The second image was roughly at about 35 degrees, the "middle" at -5 degrees, fourth at -40 and fifth at -70 (OK, I goofed on the overlap). Then turning slightly to align the next "middle" image to overlap with the previous "middle" image, and shoot the next set of 5, starting from the top again. In retrospect, I would definitely take the time and trouble to use a calibrated tripod.

I then downloaded the images onto my G3 Macintosh. The images as they came off the camera were in a vertical sequence in sets of five. They required careful re-numbering before warping with Panorama Tools using a script file written to process in rows of 13 across, rather than down (a modified script courtesy of Pete from Pete's Tutorial). As the images were taken freehand, overlap was irregular (<disgust>actually, it was all over the place</digust>) and stitching was only possible by hand.

The final image was intended for display cross-platform within a Java applet viewer (note to Apple: true "cross-platform" means more than just Windows and Macintosh boxes). I decided to do the hand stitching on my Unix (FreeBSD) notebook using the Gimp (free Unix photoshop "clone"). (Helmut - can't get the PanoTools (Linux) Gimp plug-in to load properly - must discuss that with you some time - then I could do the whole damn lot under Unix :-).

Hand stitching was tedious, but exciting as the image took shape.

The master source file was hand stitched image by image starting from the middle row with the least warping, then building up the image by adding the second and fourth rows, and lastly the bottom and top rows - the most distorted. The original source file is here.

Once complete, inserting the spherical jpg into the Java viewer was fairly straight forward. I used the instructions in Step 6 of Pete's Tutorial with some minor modifications to the HTML (check the source of the demo page) and the VRML2 description file.

OK, so I did make things hard for myself, and next time I WILL use a tripod. I'll probably also try my 16mm Nikon lens too, but this exercise was designed to prove a point - which it did!

You do not need expensive equipment or fancy software to produce full spherical panoramas and deploy them on the web. In fact if you're prepared to do a little hard work yourself, you can do the whole thing with any ordinary camera and free software!

Equipment used:

The Idea: inspired by the immoral persecution of a free software developer.

The Hardware:
Camera - Olympus D-200L digital camera with standard fixed, built in lens;
Tripod - none (Duopod (2 legs ;-) "me" - freehand);
Film - none (digital at low (320x200) resolution);
Computer manipulation plaftorm - MacOS on Macintosh G3 notebook & FreeBSD (Unix) on Dell Inspiron 7000 PII notebook

The Software: (Mac) Adobe Photoshop LE with Olympus camera import filter plug-in;
(Mac) Graphic Converter with Panorama Tools plug-in for warping and PNG output;
(Note: PNG (portable network graphic) seems to be a really good format to use for cross platform images)
(Unix) The Gimp (hand stitching of master image)
(Unix) AsWedit and pico to throw together some HTML to wrap this up in and tweak the VRML2 description file.
(Crossplatform) LivePicture's Java applet image viewer

Last and almost forgotten ;-)

The photographer: KathyW.