Friday, November 23, 2007


Click to enlarge the screenshot
If you have been using QuickTime for panorama presentation and you're thinking about switching to Flash, you're probabaly also thinking "OMG. I have to re-output all those panos?".
You've also probably looked at and tried to figure out hotspots. My head is still hurting.
Fear not. Under the flag of his software shop Garden Gnome Software, Thomas Rauscher has written a great application called Pano2VR that will quickly convert a number of panoramic file formats to .swf files or QTVR if you like.
Pano2VR allows control over cube face size, quality, preview, initial orientation, metadata and autorotation. It also claims to (and it gives me a little shudder to write this) convert your QTVR hotspot files and/or create new hotspots in Flash. In a brief test, I find that creating Flash hotspots appears to be quick and easy. I'll post a test in the next day or two.
Pano2VR appears poised to replace Cubic Converter and Cubic Connector, which I've been using.

Panoramas at

UNC grad Whitney Shefte at has shot five panoramas with audio of BASE jumpers on the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, W. Va. This is part six of the Post's "Why We Compete" series.
Earlier I noted I would like to see the camera a little closer to the action in some these images. I asked Whitney about the situation during the shoot, and she's filled in the details. Look in the comments on this post for her explanation.

This is an older posting, but it's good work. Alexandra Garcia at has shot five panoramas in McAllen, Texas and Monterrey, Mexico of the Prepa Tec Borregos, the best high school football team in Mexico. The Borregos pratice in Monterrey, then travel to take on McAllen High School in their 14,000 seat stadium, what the kids from Monterrey call "un gran palacio," a great palace. There's also an audio slideshow.
This is part five of the Post's "Why We Compete" series.

New Nodal Ninja VR head coming soon

The Nodal Ninja 5 (at left in photo) looks like an excellent update, although it's about twice the cost of the NN3.

The rotator is redesigned and is reputed to be much more accurate, and there's a camera mounting plate which will also add to accuracy in shooting geometry and speed in setup.

Check out the discussion with some beta testers on

Anyone want to buy a gently-used NN3?

Flying Short Course handouts

Attendees listen to a speaker.
Last month I was fortunate enough to be invited to the McLean, Va stop of the NPPA Flying Short Course to talk about VR photography and photojournalism. I promised the attendees that I'd post a handout of some things I've written about using PTGui to build panoramas, and the photojournalistic ethics of making panoramas. There's also some other cool links.
Check it out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Recent work on

Van Landhingham Glen at UNC-Charlotte

A vision of fall in the Carolinas. Despite the extreme drought, a pulse of rain in late October allowed the forests and trees to put on a decent fall color show.

Avenue Condominiums

Yeah, it's a virtual tour. But it's really cool real estate in the heart of uptown Charlotte, which is an amazing place. In a three-block stretch of Stonewall Street (across from the Observer) there are NINE construction cranes. It's amazing anyone with a window office is getting any work done.

River Docs at The Light Factory

Photographer Byron Baldwin is photographed during setup of River Docs at The Light Factory in Charlotte. Byron's an icon of the Charlotte photographic scene, having been an educator for many years and a damned fine photographer as well.

Carshow Object Movie

This isn't really a panorama, but an object movie. Consider this another way to present information. In this case, I shot 30 images as the truck rotated on its turntable (aka a really big lazy susan), and created the object movie in VRWorx.

Panos in the Spin Room -

Open panorama on
Here's a news panorama from Zach Wise, who is shooting with a Canon 5D and a Sigma 8mm, as far as I know. That's the rig he was using at the Multimedia Summit in Portland this summer.
With the Sigma 8mm (a full-frame circular fisheye) he's getting a full 180-degree image. I'm guessing this shot was either handheld or on a monopod because it's such a tight space, and he's shooting it in 3 frames since he's got 180 degrees of HFoV in each frame. But the stitching is difficult, as you can see in the ceiling, and I think the moving people may have caused problems as well.
Here's what he had to say about this pano:
"Well, the shoot was extremely difficult, since I was recording audio in multidirections at the same time I was shooting the pano. The proximity to people in the pano became a problem, as you can see from the blur. That corner is near a stitch point and it was hot for traffic, so in the two frames that stitched at that point people were moving to catch a sound bite etc in both frames causing some weirdness. We're looking at the One shot mirror system as a possible solution, as well as a four channel recorder with mics positioned on the bottom. I want to be able to use a system for serious reporting. "
Zach is at the Las Vegas Sun now. He's the multimedia producer for their soon-to-be revamped website. Check out his personal site
Thanks to Ray Jones at for the heads up on Zach's work.

Panoramas at

The Times' New Home

There's some good work being done out there, panoramic is starting to catch on. Ray Jones and the crew at NYT Digital just did a series of views of the Times' new building in NYC. There's a package of multmedia, including four panoramas in the Arts section of

Talk about a high-profile project right out of the box! This is their first published shot at panorama as far as I know. Ray was quizzing me a week or so ago about panoramas, and they obviously have been working hard. An excellent first effort for them.

I had originally posted that they were using Flash Panoramas for their presentation. However, I'm told by multimedia producer Gabriel Dance that it's actually an in-house solution he developed.

Sad to say, but QuickTime VR seems to be on the wane due to lack of support from Apple. It was fun while it lasted.

Stay Tuned

In the meantime

contact me:

gobrien AT charlotteobserver DOT com