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They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. And now that multimedia has taken over the Web, flat 2D images sometimes just aren’t enough anymore. But going from a series of photos to an interactive 3D image can take a bit of work. After stitching the photos together, additional processing is required to turn them into interactive, virtual reality files viewable in a Web browser. Some stitching programs have the capacity to output QuickTime VR (QTVR) files. Flash developers, meanwhile, have made huge strides in coding Flash to display interactive virtual reality images, and a handful of dedicated programs now create Flash-based VR files.
Pano2VR is the one app that swings both ways. Just drop in your freshly stitched masterpiece, and it will output QTVR, Flash VR files, or both simultaneously. Pano2VR also can produce the necessary HTML, ready to cut and paste into your Web page design. Or simply upload the HTML and related .mov or .swf files to a Web server for a basic VR experience.
Pano2VR’s main user interface contains a panel for dropping in your panorama, plus four other panels to customize viewing parameters, metadata (such as title, author, and copyright info), and hotspots. Adjustments to default settings are accessed via buttons in each panel. Viewing parameters, which set the initial field of view for a panorama—plus pan and tilt—are set by dragging a low-res preview in a window until you like the results.
Every VR photographer develops a personal toolbox of specialized panorama apps. Pano2VR's versatility and power make it a natural addition for many.
Pano2VR simplifies the process of outputting interactive 3D images for the Web.
Once a panorama has been transformed into the six-sided cube needed to create a 3D Web image, even the best photographers often need to bring a cube face back into Photoshop for cosmetic touch-up—to remove the last bits of the camera’s tripod, for example. Pano2VR’s Patch Input easily exports a cube face for retouching, then reimports the patched file into your project. For perfect alignment, be sure to note the pan, tilt, and field of view settings before exporting, and duplicate them for import.
Flash VR supports transparent button overlays, or skins, that place pan and zoom control buttons over a pano. Pano2VR offers a variety of menu-driven skin styles.
QTVR and Flash panoramas support hotspots, or areas within a pano that can be linked to any URL, including other pano images. They’re a staple of VR tours, in which multiple linked panoramas allow the viewer to explore a physical location. Pano2VR’s impressive hotspot tools access powerful coding features, including creating schematic maps showing the relative locations of linked images. These features require some study and practice to utilize fully, but the process is made easier by thorough online documentation and excellent screencast tutorials.