How To Make a Virtual Movie for the Web

There is a simple type of virtual movie that you can create without having to go into an in-depth study of computer graphics and animation or the more technical aspects of videography. This is the 360 degree movie that presents a sweeping or panoramic visual presentation of a location. Here are some guidelines on how to make this simple type of virtual movie for the Web.

  1. Take photographs. You're going to need a digital camera with enough resolution to take crisp pictures and a powerful lens that gives you enough options on depth of field and wide angle views. It is recommended that you use at least a "pro-sumer" (professional-consumer) level digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera for this task. You're also probably going to need a tripod to make your shots stable and consistent in angle. Position yourself in the center of your location and start taking pictures. After the first shot, refocus/reposition 10 degrees horizontally either left or right while maintaining the same height. Continue doing this for each shot. At the 36th shot you should have made a full circle.
  2. Edit the photos. Photographing a location can be tricky as ambient lighting is always going be to a factor no matter how carefully you set up your shots. To maintain consistency, you'll probably need a photo editing software. Such applications are also helpful in reviewing your shots. To make these separate images into a movie, you're actually going to stitch them together into one seamless circular view. It's quite possible that the edge of one photo doesn't consistently match with the one following it. There could be overlaps so you might need to crop one photo or the other. In reviewing your pictures on the photo editor, you could also discover if you missed a spot. In such cases you might need to get back to the location and do another session.
  3. Stitch the images using virtual movie software. There are a number of virtual movie software applications and each of them have different editing features and procedures. But all of them make use of the principle of 'stitching' to create a 360 degree view. Stitching is the process of joining together the edges of a sequence of images to create one seamless image. The camera view is then panned through the whole image. When you stitch together the kind of photos you've just taken, the visual effect is that of a continuous 360 degree turn. It is important then to be familiar with the operation and especially the editing functions of the virtual movie software you're going to use. It is also important to label your photos sequentially.
  4. Export or save in appropriate format. Most virtual movie software can export project files into common video formats such as .avi or .mov. However you also need to consider the kind of multimedia player that's going to be used on the website to which you're going to upload your virtual movie. You also need to take file size into account as not all Internet connections are standardized. Find a balance where your virtual movie will maintain a moderate amount of visual quality but won't take too long to load on a browser.

Once you've successfully accomplished this project and familiarized yourself with the relevant software you can start trying out more complicated types of virtual movies. One type is the object virtual reality movie where the focus is on a single object that's continuously rotating giving the viewer all angle perspectives of the object. The concept is similar to the 360 degree movie but instead of adjusting the camera per shot, you'll be turning the object in various positions.


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