Making a Panorama in VR Worx

Stitching Software

"Stitching" is the process in which several overlapping pictures are seamlessly blended together into one picture. Stitching software must identify matching details in the pictures' overlaps, warp and superimpose them so they fit perfectly before blending them into the single picture. Several software packages do this process, but only a couple are specifically designed to produce QTVR panoramas, Apple's own Quicktime Virtual Reality Authoring Studio (QTVRAS, see http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtvr) and VR Worx (see http://www.vrtoolbox.com). We will be using VR Worx in this project. If you wish to follow along in the following steps, you can download a free Demo version of VR Worx from the VR Toolbox web site. You can downlowd the image files used in this project here: PanoSource.sit

Creating Your QTVR Panorama

  1. Before launching the VR Worx 2.0 software, create a new folder on your computer desktop and copy the pictures that you took for your panorama from the floppy disk(s) into the folder.

  1. Launch VR Worx 2.0. You will see a startup screen that asks you to select the document type. We will be creating a Panorama, so make sure that Panorama is selected and click "OK."

  1. The Setup step of VR Worx will appear. Here you will need to tell VR Worx details about your pano shoot so it can accurately handle the pictures.Set the Max. Frames value to the number of shots in your pano shoot, 18. Under Lens Params: enter 40 in the "Length" field. (This value is the equivalent focal length of a lens with a comparable angle of coverage on a 35 mm film camera. The actual focal length of the Sony Mavica lens is much smaller because it is focusing the much smaller area of its CCD chip.) Set the Image Size to 480 X 640, the pixel dimension of your pictures in portrait orientation.
    Notice that the program computes an Overlap between the pictures of 43.6% based on your inputs. The software needs quite a bit of overlap between pictures to do a good stitch. This value should be between 30-50%. Increasing the number of shots or using a wider angle lens will increase the overlap.
    Click on the Acquire tab to go to the next step of the VR Worx program.

  1. At the Acquire step you will see a circular layout indicating the positions of your pictures in your pano shoot. First you will need to import your pictures into the VR Worx program by clicking on the "Multiple" button in the Commands section.

  1. In the dialogue box that appears, navigate to the folder that contains the pictures for your panorama. Make sure the first picture in your pano is highlighted in the file list, and that the Show Preview box is checked. Examine the thumbnail of your first shot to determine how it should be rotated to be right side up. Your pictures need to be rotated counter-clockwise, so you need to select -90° in the rotation box in the lower left-hand corner of the dialogue box. Click on the "Add 18" button to move the files to the Add frames to panorama... section of the dialogue box and then click on "Done."

  1. You will see your pictures being acquired by the program. Thumbnails of the pictures will appear in the circular layout when acquisition is complete. If you see errors, such as incorrect rotation, you can click on the "Multiple" button again, make corrections, and reaquire the shots. Click on the Stitch tab to go to the next step.

  1. At the Stitch step, click on the "Stitch" button. The software will attempt to match details in the overlapping pictures and lay them out for the blend step. If you click on the Transparency box in the Options section, you will be able to see through the overlaps to see how well the match has been made. You may wish to scroll through the whole panorama to examine the the stitch to see if you need to make any adustments.

8. If you want to refine the positioning made by the software, click on the frame you wish to move and click on the Offset buttons in the Adjustments section. You may not be able to get and exact position across the entire height of the picture. When you are satisfied with the postioning of all the pictures, click on the Blend tab to go to the next step.

  1. Click on the "Blend" button to blend your stitched pictures into one seamless picture. If your shots had a great deal of exposure differences between them, moving the Blend slider over to the Max setting before blending will help a little. We won't be adding hot spots to this panorama right now, so click on the Compress tab to go to the next step.

  1. At the Compress step, the actual QTVR panorama is created using the video compression codec that you select. Without going into the technical details, the default selection on this step are a good choice, so click on the "Compress" button to make your QTVR panorama, then click on the Playback tab to view the results.

  1. At the Playback step you will be able to set different features of your panorama before exporting the QTVR movie.

     

  1. When you have set the features of your panorama, you should first save the VR Worx document by selecting "Save" from the "File" menu, giving the document an appropriate name, navigating to the folder where you wish it to be saved and clicking on "OK" in the dialogue box. Notice that is is a VR Worx document and not a QTVR movie. The QTVR movie which we will export in the next step is the media you will use on a web page or a HyperStudio stack. The VR Worx document contains all the work you have done in Worx heretofore, and contains within it the individual pictures before stitching, the stitched, seamless flat picture created in the Blend step, as well as the QTVR panorama and all the settings applied to it. It is a fairly large file—32.8 MB—as compared with the QTVR movie we will export out of the Worx program, which is 900 KB. Click on the Export Movie... button in the bottom left corner of the Playback step to export your QTVR movie.

  1. Worx will suggest a name for your QTVR movie based on the name of the Worx document. You may change the name, but be sure to retain the .mov file name extension, which identifies it as QuickTime media. If your movie is to be displayed on the web, you should check Optimize for web playback, which is a quick start feature for the web. Navigate to the folder you wish to save to and click on "Export."

Here is the finished QTVR panorama as it appears on a web page.

Next: Making a QTVR Object Movie


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