Photographs and illustrations help bring a story to life in the way text can’t. We use them in every project. Panoramic photos and 3d models give the viewer a better sense for what it’s like to be in a place, but they don’t always translate well to a flat presentation. Recent advancements in mobile technology have brought the immersive experience of panoramas to a wide audience (think Google Street View).
Since our work often involves sharing models of 3d spaces, we wanted to test some options for creating and viewing panoramic images. It’s an easy way to navigate a 3d space for people that have never tried using 3d modeling software. Plus we recently acquired a virtual reality (VR) headset (Thanks Leon!) and we thought it could be fun to look around inside one of our own models. I created these diagrams of our VR headset to show how it works:
I made the panorama using SketchUp and a plugin called CubicPanoOut which automatically creates 6 scenes that can be stitched together to form a 360 degree panoramic view, also known as a photosphere. There is a variety of software that can handle this task. I used one called Hugin, with some guidance from a tutorial by Bernd Kronmueller.
We then tested the newly created panorama with an android phone application called VR gallery. This app allows you to import any photosphere file you have and view it using a VR headset like the one we own. You put your phone inside the headset and view the screen through some lenses. The phone then tracks your head movement and the view of the model moves accordingly. Here’s a look at the panorama we used for testing (see below). If you want to see it through a virtual reality headset, come find us at an upcoming SketchUp Meetup in Portland: