Quicktime VR Panorama of Deep Cove, B.C.






t one time I thought Quicktime VR was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. When I first ran into it (back in 1996 or so) it was pretty much a geek thing. Digital cameras were very expensive, and you needed special hardware (tripod heads) and software to capture a sequence of still shots and turn them into a 360-degree QTVR panorama like this one (372KB) - you'll need Apple's Quicktime installed to view it.

Deep Cove, B.C. - September 14, 2002
(Pan: click & drag; Zoom in: shift; or out (control). Or use the controller)

Nowadays (2003) digital cameras are commonplace, and the process is no longer based on magic. I built this one from 16 digital still shots take with a Canon PowerShot S30. This camera (like most of Canon's line) has a mode that they refer to as "Stitch Assist" mode: you take a sequence of overlapping still shots, and the camera helps you line them up by displaying the right-hand edge of the previous "frame" in the viewfinder. The camera uses the same exposure settings for the entire sequence so that the "stitching" process (connecting adjacent frames together) doesn't have to deal with the banding caused when adjacent frames are shot with different F-stops. Canon's cameras ship with an easy-to-use stitching application named PhotoStitch that seems to do a pretty good job of blending the overlapping areas together.

Apple also has some free QTVR tools available from its QTVR Web site. I tweaked the "Canon PhotoStitch"ed image in Photoshop so that I could fiddle with it further in Apple's free "QTVR Make Panorama 2" (I wanted to choose a wider aspect ratio and specify a different initial viewpoint). I compressed it with the Photo-JPEG codec at "low" (25) quality to keep the filesize down. There's also some pro QTVR software which lets you designate clickable "hot spots" within a panorama. Raymond Kam has a more complete description of the process here. He's also done some nifty QTVR panoramas of Vancouver, B.C.

Compare this with my first, much cruder (and more manual) effort: a 1996 QTVR panorama of Deep Cove, to see how the process has changed in 7 years.

If you're having problems displaying this in your browser, try downloading DeepCove-20020914.mov and playing it on a Quicktime player for your platform. If you think it should work, but it doesn't, Email me with details (browser, platform, Quicktime version) and I'll try to figure out what the problem is.