FAQs Virtual Tours
- What is a virtual Tour?
- Do I need special equipment to create a virtual Tour?
- Creating a virtual tour with panoramas from beginning to end
- Can I use a 360°x360° panorama in my virtual tours to allow me to look up, down, left and right?
- Will my virtual tours work on any device, operative system and browser?
- Can I zoom in and out of virtual tours?
- Which parameters in the virtual tours can be modified?
- Which graphical formats are supported as input? What file types will 3dvista Virtual Tour Suite accept?
- What kind of file format will I create as output?
- Can I have more than one slideshow in my presentation?
- What is a tripod cap?
- What is the lens-flare effect?
- What is immersive audio?
- Can I add background music or audio to be played during the whole virtual tour?
- What is the mobile version option for?
- Can the virtual tours created with 3DVista software be controlled without touching the screen, just by spinning my mobile devices?
- Is there a limit of media (photos, audio tracks, info boxes) that I can integrate in a virtual tour?
- How do I get my tour to start in a certain spot?
- Can I use a tour's URL to define or modify the panorama or media with which the tour will start (deep linking)?
- How do I see my tours using Oculus Rift or HTC Vive?
1.- What is a virtual Tour?
A virtual tour lets you see a place on screen in a way that is most similar to actually experiencing it in real life. Virtual Tours can generally contain many different types of media and tools, such as photos, panoramas, videos and audio. While others might already consider a single photo slideshow or video a virtual tour, we consider a virtual tour to be based on a panorama with interactivity options. In our FAQs and tutorials we will therefore speak of a virtual tour whenever it incorporates panoramas and interactivity, while the term presentations refers to mere slideshows or videos.
Technically, a virtual tour is the transformation of a flat panorama image into a spherical format. The virtual tour allows the viewer to walk virtually through your scenery using his computer, TV or mobile phone. Within this virtual tour you can show panoramas, videos, photos, floor plans or maps and you can play different sounds depending on where your viewer looks (immersive audio). A special virtual tour format lets you see a section of the captured zone on your screen (like you would actually see it if you were looking in one direction) and you can tell the viewer to turn left, right, up or down, like you would do with your head.
This is the basic of what a virtual tour is. Of course you can do much more with these tours. You can actually walk virtually through a building by adding various panoramas that are interlinked, you can include additional info texts, interactive hotspots, special effects such as lens flare and even widgets. You can also choose to have your tour be auto-piloted, which means your user won’t have to interact but will rather be guided through the scenery as if it were a video (which he can always interrupt and start piloting himself).
How can you create a virtual tour and show it on your website? For a virtual tour you need a flat panorama, and for a flat panorama you need several photos that are merged to achieve a wide-angle image. Therefore, you start by taking various photos of the scenery you want to show. Then, you import these photos into 3DVista Stitcher and let the program stitch them together automatically. Lastly, you import the created panorama into 3DVista Virtual Tour Suite and - with just one click - transform the panorama into an immersive and spherical format. After that, your virtual tour is technically ready for being uploaded onto your website. You can of course edit or add extras to your virtual tour before uploading it. You can enhance the image, set paths to show a set of points of interest in a certain order and edit auto-play, rotation and other settings or add extras, such as hotspots or audio to make your tour more attractive. Preview your virtual tour instantly or upload it to where you want it.
2.- Do I need special equipment to create a virtual Tour?
The only basics that you need to create a virtual tour are:
a camera (or even only a mobile phone), a computer and 3DVista Virtual Tour Suite software Even though before creating the actual virtual tour, you will need to create a panorama, you will not need to buy 3DVista Stitcher separately because it is already included in Virtual Tour Suite software. Besides these three basic ingredients, there are some further hardware gears that can help you in taking panoramic photos and will improve your results:
A tripod – which gives you stabilization so that you’re not moving too much while shooting the different angles (more accurate stitching results)
Certain special lenses can help you minimize the number of shots necessary for a panorama. While really any camera will do and is compatible with 3DVista software, there are special lenses that can improve the quality of your panoramas and virtual tours remarkably.
A wide angle lens, for example, has a bigger field of view than standard 35mm lenses, which means you will need less shots to create a panorama and therefore less pictures to process in the Stitcher. This will make the stitching process considerably faster and more precise.
A fisheye lens has an extraordinarily wide field of view. An image taken with a fisheye lens can be equivalent to four images taken with a standard lens, meaning that you will need even less shots to create a panorama. There are three different types of images depending on the type of the fisheye lens: Rectangular fisheye lenses, semi-circular and circular fisheye lenses which all vary in the level of vignetting they have. We recommend rectangular or alternatively semi-circular fisheye lenses for shooting panoramas.
A panohead -that will (1) keep the camera in the center of the tripod to avoid changes in perspective between your individual shots and (2) automatically help you maintain the exact right angles between shots so that you don’t have to worry about sufficient overlap anymore. This is a must when using fisheye lenses.
The additional hardware refers to the optimization of the photographic process, which is why the same suggestions appear in the FAQ equipment section for panoramas. The only extra step you have to take for creating a virtual tour is the conversion of the flat panorama into a spherical format. For this you only need 3DVista Virtual Tour Suite once you have a readily stitched panorama. The above therefore explains the equipment suggested for the whole process of creating a virtual tour, which includes the photographic process for the creation of a panorama.
3.- Creating a virtual tour with panoramas from beginning to end
Generally, you can always just try things out with the program - There is nothing that you can do wrong so feel free to play around with effects and tools. With our preview tool you can see right away the changes that you made and whether you like them or not.
Step 1: Take photos of the place you want to show in your virtual tour. Unlike other software suppliers, 3DVista also allows you to create virtual tours with just partial panoramas, which means you will not have to take photos of the whole 360° scenery but you can also have a tour that covers a smaller angle. There are a couple of things that you should remember when taking the photos
You can use any camera and any lens for taking the photos. Nonetheless, there is some equipment that facilitates the process. Click here for more info or watch our video tutorial on "What equipment do I need to make a panorama".
Especially when using fisheye or wide angle lenses you have to use a tripod with a panohead mounted on top.
The individual photos should overlap by approximately 20%, which means that those photos that are next to each other in the panorama need to overlap by 20%. This overlap area is necessary, because it is where the program finds common control points between the two photos, which are used to stitch them. This is where the panohead comes into play because it will only let you rotate the camera up to the optimum point, making sure that you always maintain the right distance between the photos.
With a point and shoot camera or cell phone: Place your camera in portrait or vertical mode (in order to have a wider vertical field of view), keep your arms close to your body and start spinning clockwise around your own axis while you take several pictures. Again, it is important that the individual photos will have an area of overlap of approximately 20%.
With a DSLR camera and tripod: If you’re using a tripod, things will get a lot easier, quicker and more accurate. Set up the tripod with attached camera in the best viewing spot (usually the middle of the room). Use the bubble indicators on your tripod to ensure that your camera is level from front to back and side to side. Set the camera in portrait position and start taking several photos by rotating the head of the tripod. Remember to maintain a 20% overlap between shots.
With a DSLR camera, a tripod and a panohead: Set up the tripod in the best viewing spot (usually the middle of the room). Mound the panohead on top of the tripod and attach the camera to the panohead making sure that the end of the lens is vertically right above the rotation axis. It is absolutely crucial that the lens of the camera and not the body be right on top of the rotation axis to avoid changes in perspective when rotating the panohead. Rotate the panohead right until you feel it click into place and take a photo. For a full panorama take one final photo of the ceiling and optionally a photo of the floor (without the tripod).
Once you have the pictures taken, the process of creating the panoramas and the virtual tour starts. To learn how this is done, please take a look to our Quick Guide, where we describe this process in detail. LINK TO QUICK GUIDE
4.- Can I use a 360°x360° panorama in my virtual tours to allow me to look up, down, left and right?
Yes. You can do this in several ways:
Create a spherical panorama from within 3DVista Virtual Tour Suite using any kind of camera and lens and publish it. Nonetheless, we highly recommend the use of wide angle lenses or fisheye lenses for this task.
Create a cubic panorama by assembling 6 faces of a 'cube' created in CAD programs or with special photo techniques
Import a readily-stitched 360°x360° panorama that has already been created in another stitching program into 3DVista Virtual Tour Suite
5.- Will my virtual tours work on any device, operative system and browser?
Yes. Thanks to our technology, which automatically adapts to the device, system and browser used by your clients, you don’t have to worry about displaying problems at all. Your Virtual Tours will be visible on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad and on every Browser Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer etc.
6.- Can I zoom in and out of virtual tours?
Yes, you can. When creating a virtual tour, you can even define minimum and maximum values of zoom allowed for the viewers of your tours. Auto-pilot navigation also includes zoom options.
7.- Which parameters in the virtual tours can be modified?
8.- Which graphical formats are supported as input? What file types will 3dvista Virtual Tour Suite accept?
Panoramas, photos and images in:
- JPG/JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg)
- PNG (.png) (supports transparency for skins and interface elements)
- BMP (.bmp)
- TIFF (.tiff)
- GIF (.gif)
Additionally, you can also import two unique types of panoramas:
- Live Panoramas (.zip)
- Adaptive HDR (.hdr)
- mp3 (.MP3)
- ogg (.OGG)
- mpg (.MP4)
- ogg (.OGV)
- mkv (.MKV)
- wmv (.WMV)
9.- What kind of file format will I create as output?
You can have your virtual tour published in 2 formats:
For uploading to the web
As an Autoexecutable that runs in your local hard drive
Depending on which one you choose you will export different file formats. For more information check the Question XXXXX here.
10.- Can I have more than one slideshow in my presentation?
Yes, you can. You can create different albums and alternate them with panoramas or other media.
11.- What is a tripod cap?
The tripod cap is an image that is placed at the bottom of the viewer to cover the tripod. It often is used to place information or advertising of the photographer or the company (logos etc.).
12.- What is the lens-flare effect?
The lens-flare effect is a special effect that you can add to your panoramas that imitates the artifacts that appear whenever you point your camera towards a powerful source of light. It is a natural phenomenon that will add a dramatic touch to your virtual tours.
13.- What is immersive audio?
Immersive audio is a technology that makes your virtual tours even more realistic by mimicking yet another human sense - (spatial) hearing. Immersive audio allows you to play different sounds depending on where the viewer is looking at. Imagine you have a beach scenery with forest behind you. Whenever the visitor looks at the sea, he or she would hear sounds of waves, while hearing birds chirping and leaves rustling when turning around and looking at the forest area. Click here to see the sample.
14.- Can I add background music or audio to be played during the whole virtual tour?
Yes, you can. Besides adding specific audio to specific media elements, you can also have a common background audio that plays during the whole virtual tour. You could, for example, add your favourite soundtrack or ambience music.
15.- What is the mobile version option for?
When publishing your virtual tour, you can choose between different formats and versions that you wish to export. By selecting the mobile version option, the panoramas will be optimized to run on mobile devices. The downloading times for this version will be shorter while maintaining an optimum quality level for mobile devices. Since you will be creating two versions (web and mobile), you will need more space on your hard drive or server for storing the virtual tour. Still, it usually makes sense to create both versions (web and mobile) in order to make sure that clients entering with mobile devices are saving time and bandwidth.
16.- Can the virtual tours created with 3DVista software be controlled without touching the screen, just by spinning my mobile devices?
Yes. We included a spectacular feature called "Control by Giroscope" that allows you to move around a panorama only by moving your phone or tablet. This is a fantastic tool if you want to see something on location because it lets you see the real world while checking a virtual reality. Show modifications of a scene, such as pre- and post changes, day and night scenes, enhancement or the history of a place with antique drafts. Click here to see a sample.
17.- Is there a limit of media (photos, audio tracks, info boxes) that I can integrate in a virtual tour?
No, we do not set a limit to media uploads and inclusion. However, remember that virtual tours containing a lot of media might not run as smoothly on some devices (especially mobiles or tablets with little RAM memory )
18.- How do I get my tour to start in a certain spot?
To set a starting point, import a panorama, double click on it, click on "Start", maneuvre the scene to the point of view that you wish to set and click on "Set as Initial View" . This will be the starting point of the panorama.
19.- Can I use a tour's URL to define or modify the panorama or media with which the tour will start (deep linking)?
You can now have one and the same virtual tour start at different points or media, depending on its exact URL. This allows you to send a link that alters the initial media from the one you determined in the tour's playlist to the one you determine there and then in the URL. This way, you can send different links (with different start points) to different people or incorporate shortcut buttons on your website - one that'll start the tour with an intro video, one that'll start right in the master bedroom and one that'll take you straight to the kitchen panorama. And the best thing is you only have to create and host one single virtual tour.
There are two ways to alter the initial media by means of its URL:
A) Take the standard URL of your tour and add a parameter called "media-index", followed by a number between 1 and N (N being the total number of media elements included in your tour). 1 would have the tour start at the first media element of your playlist, N would be the last. You can find the order of your media elements in the "Publish" tab under "Playlist".
B) Take the standard URL of your tour and add a parameter called "media-name", followed by the name of the media you want to start with (the name you gave that media inside VT PRO). Keep in mind that a URL does not support special characters, such as accents, umlauts etc. If your media name includes a non-supported character, you need to include an encode as well: E.g. Media name: "Martín", URL add-on: "Mart%C3%ADn". For this, use a website, such as https://www.urlencoder.org To specify the initial media, add "?media-index=NUMBER" or "?media-name=NAME" to the tour's URL. If there already is a "?" in your standard URL, insert "&media-index=NUMBER" or "&media-name=NAME" instead. E.g.: "/tour/index.html?media-index=3"
20.- How do I see my tours using Oculus Rift or HTC Vive?
You need to download one of the browsers compatible with WebVR. We recommend Firefox or Chromium (the latter is the experimental version of Chrome). Chrome, too, will be supporting it natively in a few weeks. You can download them here: (It is important you follow the directions that appear there.)
Once done so, just connect your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive device, run the browser, paste the URL of the tour, run it and click on the VR button that shows inside the virtual tour. Enjoy your tour in Virtual Reality.