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A Few Days of VR Panorama Experiments

iPhone + Olloclip

As soon as we realized that we had all the gear we needed for creating VR panoramas— camera, lenses, software—we ventured out to see what we could do with an iPhone and our collection of lenses.

There are a few ways to capture a 360º scene, but they all require a balance between the parameters: lens; number of images; amount of post processing; to whit:

  1. The wider the angle of the lens, the fewer the number of images required to capture the entire 360º scene.
  2. The fewer the number of images needed/taken, the fewer things change from start to finish.
  3. The greater the number of images, the higher the final resolution of the scene.
  4. The greater number of images, the more processing time is required to assemble the scene.


We used the Olloclip lenses in our VR experiments for the iPhone4 and iPhone6 Plus. Each fits right over the iPhone’s camera and will work with any camera app.

To carry our gear we chose the Earth Explorer shoulder sling from National Geographic. It is a great field bag suitable for all types of outings, but especially for when we need to carry small iPhone accessories. The zippered compartments are perfect for securing smaller lenses. The velcro closures give fast access without having to fumble with snaps.


Also, we recently acquired an unusual lens from a small start-up call Kogeto. They have constructed a lens which is able to take a 360º image all in one go. The idea is intriguing, but there are quite a few trade-offs. We will post our thoughts on it once we get some first-hand experience with the lens.


Also, to make sure we don’t run out of power, we will be bring along an Anker Li-ion backup battery pack. The Anker E3 is a compact portable charger with 10,000mAh of power, enough to recharge an iPhone four times.


Day 1: At Jamaica Pond

While we are new to shooting VR scenes we know enough about photography to know we should start with a bright scene to minimize noise.

Shooting indoors would have been more comfortable and let us control more of the variables, but since lighting was a major factor, we packed up and headed outside. As it turned out, it was absolutely the right decision.

Jamaica Pond Panorama

Jamaica Pond Panorama

Click the link below to see the image as a 360º VR pano.

The images for the above panorama were taken using an:

The panorama was:

Day 2: On the Golf Course

Yesterday’s outing was to get familiar with shooting a panorama with a fisheye lens attached to the iPhone4S. Today, we ventured out to a nearby golf course to get a full set of images (50 total) so we could play with the stitching of sky and ground images along with the horizontal ones.

George Wright Public Golf Course Panorama

George Wright Public Golf Course Panorama

Click the link below to see the image as a 360º VR pano.

The images for this panorama were taken using an:

The panorama was:

The resolution of the VR is pretty high, so click on the lower right icon on the control bar at the bottom of the pano to see it full screen! Note the improvement of the sky and ground as compared to yesterday’s pano!

Day 3: Inside at the PEM

It was too cold to continue with the VR pano experiments outside, so we went to see the Strandbeest exhibit at the PEM and decided to try shooting images for the pano in an “active” location.

Strandbeest Exhibit Panorama

Strandbeest Exhibit Panorama

Click the link below to see the image as a 360º VR pano.

aAdmiring a Strandbeest Panorama

Admiring a Strandbeest Panorama

Click the link below to see the image as a 360º VR pano.

The images for these panoramas were taken using an:

The panorama was:

We present these results more as a log of our VR journey at this point in time. We will go into more detail on the stitching software, the actual mechanics of creating these scenes, and our thoughts on the scenes once we have the workflow stabilized (no need to lead folks down all the dead ends we encountered !)

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