360′ virtual tours

How do real-estate websites show 360′ virtual tours of their spaces? I
spent part of the afternoon looking at software for possible business
use. Here’s how they do it, I think.

*Take photos.* First take super-wide-angle shots, rotating your camera
around a fixed point. A number of stores sell fisheye lenses and
camera mounts for this purpose. The mount for spherical pictures (all
directions, including up and down) is more complicated than the mount
for a 360′ panoramic shot. If you don’t mind distortion, then you can
use a regular camera and just take pictures facing different
directions, relying on stitching software to compensate a bit for the distortion.

*Stitch the pictures.* Camera designed specifically for 360′ or
spherical shots may be able to capture the entire scene in one image.
However, if you’re using a rotating mount or you’re taking pictures in
different directions, then you’ll need to combine the images into a
seamless panorama by using stitching software.

*Produce the brochure.* 360′ viewers range from simple ones that
smoothly scroll a panoramic picture, to more interactive viewers that
include floor plans and clickable hotspots in the image. Choose the
software that fits your intended purpose and budget.

Some companies that sell 360′ software:

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