Creating QTVR Objects with Detail Hot Spots Using VR Worx

In working on virtual museum projects, I have used QTVR scenes to combine rotating objects with still detail images to represent museum artifacts. Close-up still images of important features on an artifact fill the QTVR window when a person clicks on a hot spot placed on the rotating full view. Adding these detail hot spots on a QTVR object increases the amount of work you have to do to create the QTVR movie, but it can greatly enhance the experience of a virtual museum object. Also, I have found that combining just still images in a QTVR scene can greatly enhance what would normally be a simple still image. Objects that are essentially flat, which don’t lend themselves to rotation, can be shot to reveal special details via hot spots, and each component still image in the scene may be zoomed as well. This is a significant advance over a simple still picture.

How To

Here I will demonstrate creating a rotating object with detail hot spots in a step-by-step manner. The technology is so flexible, it is hard to describe one specific example that covers all of the potential uses, but it will be a good introduction to the process. There are three stages in creating a QTVR scene that combines an Object movie with still image detail hot spots:

  1. Shoot the object on the turntable, with additional closeup shots of the details you wish to feature.
  2. Create the QTVR Object movie of the rotating object.
  3. Create the QTVR Scene, which adds the hot spotted details to the Object movie.

Shooting the Object with Details

In the virtual museum projects I've work on, we have been shooting objects on homemade turntables, with a contrasting background (a solid colored cloth backdrop). Sometimes we use photo flood lights, but we have gotten decent results under existing room lights as well. It is important that the camera stays in the same position for every shot of the rotating object. I prefer not to shoot with flash, which means I use a slow shutter speed. This means it is important to have the camera on a solid tripod and steady hand on the shutter (the digital cameras we use do not have cable release shutters).

After taking the rotating shots, we shoot the details we want to add to the QTVR scene. Extreme close up shots (macro shots) take careful camera work, too. Cameras have a limit to how close they focus. On cameras with zoom lenses, closer shots may be achieved with the camera zoomed out to its widest angle setting and moving closer to the object. Setting the camera on macro mode may also be required.

Another consideration to make when shooting objects is whether to shoot in landscape or portrait orientation. Objects that are much taller than they are wide will display better if you shoot them in portrait orientation, rotating the camera 90°. Keep in mind that the final QTVR scene has to display every component in the same movie window, so if your object is in portrait orientation, you’ll need to shoot the details in portrait orientation as well. You will also need to rotate the pictures 90° on the computer when creating the QTVR movie.

Making the Object Movie

After getting the pictures on the computer, it will help to review them to help you identify which ones are going to be used for the object movie and which ones will be used for the detail shots. The browse function in graphics programs like Paint Shop Pro (Windows), GraphicConverter (Macintosh) or Adobe Elements (both platform) is ideal for reviewing all the pictures in a folder all at once. Make a note of the beginning shot for the rotating object movie. It is also good to rename the detail pictures to help you keep track of them when building the scene. If detail shots are in portrait orientation, they should also be rotated so they are right side up.

Create your QTVR object movie in VR Worx, as shown in another part of this tutorial.

Making the QTVR Scene with Still Image Details

Here I will describe how to add the hot spotted details to the QTVR object movie. As mentioned above, it is a good idea to have your detail images named appropriately, so you can keep track of them when building your project. Also, if you have shot your object and details in portrait orientation, you will need to rotate the detail images so they are right side up using a graphics program before you bring them into VR Worx. If you had Worx resize your pictures to get a smaller file sized QTVR object movie, you should resize your still detail images to the same dimensions in your graphics program.



There is an infinite variety of ways you can assemble a QTVR scene. For instance, in diagram 1, taken from the Nodes page of VR Worx, we show a birch bark basket object movie with one hot spot on the lid that takes you to a still image of the lid when clicked on, as indicated by the arrow going from the basket to the lid. A hot spot on the lid takes you to a picture of the inside of the box, and a hot spot from the inside that takes you back to the object movie of the basket. The hot spots take you to a picture or object but there are no returning hot spots to take you directly back, as indicated by the single-headed arrows.

Diagram 2 shows a different situation with a moccasin object movie. There are hot spots that take you to details on the toe, heel and side of the moccasin, and hot spots on each detail to take you back to the moccasin object movie. The presence of the return hot spots is indicated by the double-headed arrow. You can design a QTVR scene as complex as you wish, having hot spots taking you on one-way or round trip views of any number of images, object movies or panoramas. The only limitation is you cannot have more than 254 hot spots on a given QTVR movie or image. Here is how you create a QTVR scene (this example uses the Windows version of VR Worx 2.0. The steps are nearly identical working with the Macintosh version):

1. Start VR Worx or select “New” from the “File” menu if it is already running. Select “Create a Scene” and click on OK.

2. The Setup page appears. Give your scene an appropriate name in the Name field. It is good to put something like Scn or Scene in the file name to help you distinguish the hot spotted movies from their plain counterparts. Click on the Nodes tab to go to the next step.
Note: If your source movies and images are in portrait orientation, change Master Size and Playback Size to reflect that (240 X 320).

3. On the Nodes page is a ruled work area where you will add icons representing the different media (QTVR Object and Panorama movies and still images) that make up your scene. Here you will also lay out the navigation scheme for your hot spots. Click on the Add button to add your object movie to the project.

4. Navigate to the folder with your object movie, select it and click on Open. An "O" icon (for object movie) representing the object will appear on the ruled window of the Nodes page.

4. Click on the Add button again to add one of your still image details. In the Windows version of Worx, you need to select "Image Files" from the Files of type: drop box to get access to still images. Click on your still image file name to highlight it and click Convert. Repeat for each still image detail.

5. After adding all of your media, arrange the icons in a way that makes sense for the kind of navigation you will be creating for the scene. For a QTVR object movie with still image details, I have been arranging the details around the object for a “spoke and wheel” kind of navigation, where hot spots on the QTVR object movie lead to the details and back. Notice the different icons for the object movie (the "O" icon) and the still pictures. Next, auto-generate the hot spots for the navigation by clicking on the double-headed arrow tool and drawing lines from the QTVR object movie to the still picture details.

6. Drawing the navigation lines generates the hot spots, but they still need to be named, sized and placed on the media. Click on the selection tool and then double-click on the QTVR object movie "O" icon to bring up the Node Browser window, where you position and name the hot spots for navigating the QTVR scene.

7. The Node Browser window appears. Click on the Hot Spots tab to see the hot spots that were generated when you drew the navigation lines. If the display of the object movie is too big for the space provided, you can click on the Reduce View Size button.
As indicated by the names on the auto-generated hot spots, they will take you to the detail pictures when clicked on. You will need to rename the hot spots and place them on the frames of the QTVR object movie where they are needed. This QTVR object movie has 36 frames, listed as Columns 0-35 in the “View” section of this window. You will want to place each hot spot over the detail it will bring up in close-up for most or all of the frames in which those details appear. Do this for each detail hot spot in turn.
Change the name of the hot spot first. The hot spot name is the text that appears in the QTVR movie controller bar when the cursor passes over the hot spot. It should tell the user what the hot spot does when it is clicked on. To change the name of the hot spot, double-click on the hot spot.

8. The Hot Spot Properties window appears. Change the name of the hot spot in the Name: field. In this case we input "See bead detail on toe" because it is the hot spot that will take us to the toe detail. Click OK.

9. Back at the Hot Spots section of the Node Browser window, select the hot spot you just named by clicking on it. You can tell a hot spot is selected when you can see the white square sizing boxes in each corner. You will need to drag and resize the hot spot over its detail. Drag a hot spot by clicking and dragging from the middle. Resize the hot spot by clicking and dragging on its white corner. After placing and sizing the hot spot the first time, you will need to copy it so you can paste it in the subsequent frames. Press Control-C to copy the selected hot spot in Windows or use Command-C to copy on the Macintosh.

Note: In this particular example, the detail for the Toe hot spot was not visible in Column 0, so I cut the hot spot using Control-X (Command-X on the Mac). I then moved to Column 4 of the QTVR object movie by clicking on the arrow button in the view section and pasting it there using Control-V (Command-V on the Mac.) The goal for placing and positioning hot spots on a QTVR object movie is to make it available in the right place and on every frame the user may need it.

10. Click on the Next Column (arrow) button to go to the next frame. Paste (Control-V for Windows, Command-V for Mac) your hot spot, moving and resizing it as needed. You will do this for every frame it is needed for this particular hot spot. If the detail moves behind the object, you may want to click the Next Column arrow button repeatedly until the detail emerges from the other side of the object and resume pasting, moving and resizing the hot spot on all relevant frames. Most details like this get hot spots on about half the frames of the movie, because they are hidden behind the object for half the frames.

11. Repeat steps 9-10 for the other detail hot spots on your QTVR object movie.

12. Next you need to set the hot spots on each of the still detail pictures that return to the object movie. Click on the Preview tab to bring up the Preview section of the Node Browser window. Rotate the movie to a frame containing one of the hot spots and click on the hot spot. The still image of the hot spot should fill the QTVR movie window. To set the return hot spot, click on the Hot Spots tab.

13. Fortunately, there is only one frame on the still picture details to deal with. I like to size it fairly large so the user can easily find it to return to the QTVR movie. If necessary, click on the Reduce View Size button so you can see the whole frame. Size and position the returning hot spot. Double-click on the hot spot to get the Hot Spot Properties window (see step 8 above) to give the hot spot an appropriate name. I like the phrase “Return to full view” to indicate the hot spot will take the user back to the QTVR object movie.

14. Set the return hot spots for the rest of your details. You can do this by going to the Preview section and clicking on the return hot spot. Then you repeat steps 12-13 for the other details.

Another way you can get to the return hot spots on the detail images is to close the Node Browser window and double-click each detail icon on the Nodes page in turn and setting their hot spots in the Node Browser's Hot Spots section.

15. When all of your hot spots have been set to your satisfaction, click on the Compose tab to go to the Compose section. Notice that two "Recompress" options are available to you. You probably gave your object movie in your scene the compression it needed, but the still images get imported into the project in an uncompressed. To keep the file size of your scene small, check the Recompress Still Images box. We are going with the default compression here of Photo-JPEG at Normal Quality. You can make changes to the compression by clicking on the Set button. When done, click on the Compose button to make your QTVR scene.

16. Finally, click on the Playback tab to go to the Playback section and click the Export button to export your QTVR scene. You should also Save your Worx scene document in case you want to come back to refine your scene latter on.

See the resulting object movie (653K).

These step-by-step instructions have shown how to make a very specific type of QTVR scene, one which allows you to bring up specific close-up details on a QTVR object movie. QTVR scenes are very flexible and may be used in many different ways. There are features of Scene creation that were not addressed in these instructions. To become more proficient with the Worx program, consult the documentation, make more QTVR media, and let your imagination run wild.

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