Shoreline Pixels has created a fascinating virtual tour for our high school. The quality of the images has highlighted our school marketing and website. Peter is extremely knowledgeable and willing to help with the process when creating a virtual tour. Our school is impressed with the quality of work that Shoreline Pixels have provided.
See our School here: http://www.shorelinepixels.com/virtualtours/HSOC/index.html
–Rosalyn Diaz-Ortiz – High School in the Community, New Haven, CT
The recent advances in 360 cameras has unleashed a wave of 360 images all across the internet. Facebook supports these images natively. They’re so easy to do, and can be quickly used to post 360 images online in just minutes. The 360 cameras have come a long way. They’re simple enough, and quick enough that almost anybody can hold one up and walk away with a really cool 360 image. I have several and often use the Ricoh Theta S for quick prospecting of promising locations. Sometimes I’ll build a a virtual tour for a client, so that they can get a feel for what a Virtual Tour of their business will look like.
Should you use them for your business? Well, the short answer is no. If you’ve spent hours on designing and developing your workspace environment, you want to showcase it in the best possible way. Unfortunately, the little 360 cameras just don’t compare to the real thing. An image done with a professional camera has much higher resolution, and has the added advantage of having a pro behind the lens. The lens difference is hugely significant, and yet is still only half the equation. Processing a 360 image, and then moderating multiple 360 image into a full-blown “Virtual Tour” is hard. It’s a skill that isn’t learned either quickly, or easily.
By way of example, take a look at the samples found in the image below. (You can click on the square icon at the upper right to bring the image to a full screen) Both images are taken from approximately the same spot at Madison Optical in Madison’s showroom. They were taken a few weeks apart, so they’re not identical, but will serve for this purpose. You can flip back and forth between the two images, by clicking on the two thumbnail images at the bottom of the page. Even though I took great care to get as good an image on the 360 camera as possible, it wasn’t possible to bring it up to full quality. You’ll quickly see the difference in the quality of the two images. And so will the potential shop visitors visiting your website, or looking at your images on Google.
Outdoor Panos seem to fare better. But, there’s no real comparison. Take a look at these two samples, both taken from approximately the same spot at the Water’s Edge, overlooking the grounds toward Long Island Sound.
I’ve only recently been asked this question. The client is amazed by the quality of their iphone’s (or any other cell phone) camera. They’ll save some money, and do it themselves.
Yes, you can!
You can also hammer nails with the heel of your shoe. Professional results demand professional methods. Take a close look at the lens of a standard cell phone camera, and then compare it with the lens of a professional camera. And that’s just the part that’s visible! The camera’s digital sensor is the chipset inside the camera that makes sense of the image pouring through the lens for processing into a digital image. The more information (pixels) that are available for processing, the sharper, clearer the image.
Move this process over to a full, spherical 360 image, and you’ve just moved to different level. A typical Panoramic image is made up of between 12-20 24 megapixel images, shot in all four compass directions, and also at three different exposure values (called HDR). These images are first blended together from the three different exposures, into a single compass direction, and then the four compass directions are “stitched” into a panoramic. Each step is painstakingly monitored and calibrated along the way to ensure a top quality final result. There should be no ugly lines (stitching errors) where the four directional images are merged. There should be no wild variances in light or tonal balance as the viewer scrolls around the image. It’s an art that takes a great deal of practice to learn, and the learning never stops. Once all the images are finally compiled, the separate, full panoramics must be arranged into a “virtual tour” that allows the viewer to “walk” between the images, just as if they were visiting that particular location.
Step up again a couple more levels, and we’ll find ourselves firmly in the realm of customized Virtual Tours, where almost anything you can think of can be included in the Virtual Tours. Immersive 360 video, custom sound bites or music, hyperlink jumps to display pertinent information about the scene being viewed. You’re limited only by your imagination, and what the final message or story you wish to convey to your viewer. Up another level, and we arrive at full immersive Virtual Reality. VR is a technology that is coming faster than we ever thought, and these 360 images are at the heart of that technology.
If you’d like to learn more, please contact us for a consultation. We’ll be happy to show example, and work with you to show of your business in it’s best possible light.
The Shoreline town of Madison held the annual Christmas Tree lighting this weekend. This marks the real start of the Christmas Season for the town. The many small shops provide a slice of small town Americana. You won’t find any “big box” stores along Madison’s Main Street. The shops are are small businesses, often run by the owner/proprietor. The entire Main Street area has been freshly re-designed with new sidewalks and lighting. Boutiques, Cafes, Restaurants, a Movie Theatre, and a bookstore regularly recognized as one of the best in America all await. Here’s an image of this year’s Christmas tree, flanked by the US and Madison Town Flags. Look carefully overhead and you’ll find a Crescent Moon along with Venus in the early night sky.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a telephone call, usually from a phone number you do not recognize, but you answered anyway? Immediately, you’re met with either an obnoxious recording, or worse, a real person. The message is the same: “Hello, you need to verify your listing on Google..”
That’s right. It’s not Google. Google is about as likely to call, as Ed McMahon is to ring your doorbell and announce you’ve won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. That is to say, neither are going to call (Ed’s been dead since 2009, so that’s problem). Google simply does not make these calls.
A popular scam is known as “Phishing”. This is the practice of somebody trying to get information from you that they can exploit. Phone number, credit card, account numbers, etc. Sometimes these calls are relatively harmless, but often they are not. If in doubt, just hang up.
Shoreline Pixels is an approved Google City Partner. We have the ability “verify” ownership of a businesses Google My business page, using an exclusive phone app designed just for this purpose. “Verification” means simply that you take a moment to prove that you are indeed who you say you are. Your verified listing on Google carries that much more weight with the Search engine. Google periodically removes business listing that haven’t been verified, so it’s important that a business owner take the time to make sure their business listing is verified. It’s just that these nuisance calls are not the way to accomplish this.
If you’re still need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can leave us note on our Contact Page and we’ll be happy to help. No obligation required. We want to see you succeed.
The Scranton Seahorse Inn, located in Madison,CT. A beautiful old Bed and Breakfast Inn located along Madison Main St, in the Historic district. Here’s a collection of 360 images detailing some of the guest rooms, main sitting room, and a their backyard garden just as sunset approaches.
Did you miss last week’s “Sturgeon Moon?” A beautiful sight rising over Madison’s Surf Club Thursday night.
Most of us in the Northeast call this a Sturgeon Moon, or August Moon. I’ve also heard it referred to as a Grain Moon or Green Corn Moon. It may be that the Native Americans around here knew this time of year to be the best for catching sturgeon in the waters of Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes. In any case, it makes for a splendid scene.
We enjoyed it so much we went back for another look the following night! A challenging shot without a tripod, but here are a few images in case you missed it:
Many of you probably noticed Facebook exploded last week with countless posts of 360 images (spherical panoramics) on user’s timelines. This was all the direct result of Facebook’s CEO’s announcement on his own page that Facebook had begun supporting these immersive images. As a panoramic photographer, my first thought was “well, it’s about time.” .
Many of you already use Facebook as yet another media outlet to reach your customer base. Some of you even pay for FB’s “boosting” of posts, in the hope of reaching even more people. Some of the more clever, and quicker, users quickly recognized that there was an opportunity here to use interactive 360 images to help those ads stand out in a crowd. I’m sure Google noticed it too, and probably isn’t happy about what this might mean for their Adwords revenue stream.
You see, while it’s true that Google virtually owns Search, Facebook is quickly catching up on advertising. Many creative small businesses have already begun putting together posts of carefully targeted posts that contain content aimed at their user base. For instance, an outdoor camping supply house posted their room full of kayaks, for visitor to visit and “spin around” seeing the entire display. A wedding dress and accessory shop did a similar spin of displays of wedding dresses and accessories. Targeted advertising, directly from Facebook, and probably at a fraction of the cost of a Google AdWords campaign.
Just something to think about. If you’d like to have some single “spheres” of displays to post, or even use one of the ones you already have, please contact me. I’ll be happy to help you with either. You can find some sample on the Shoreline Pixels’ Facebook page also.
Have a wonderful Father’s Day Weekend!