Metareal Blog
Making D virtual tours Fast Cheap or Good Part One

In an ideal world, you’d have it all: high quality tours, done in an instant, with barely any cost to you.

Please don’t wake me up from this dream — Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

But as they say: fast, cheap, or good — pick two.

Depending on what software you’re using, you might not even get to pick which two.

If your tour builder only lets you make 2D panorama tours, then sure they’ll be fast and cheap, but they won’t really impress your viewers.

3D virtual tours are visually excellent, but they often can’t be made fast enough, and they’re usually not cheap.

But with Metareal Stage, you have the freedom to tweak your tour building process in many ways, so you don’t have to compromise on the standards that are most important to you.

Over the next two posts, we’ll be going through 6 factors you can change when making your 3D tours to optimize for speed, affordability, and/or quality.

Photo by Don Stone on Unsplash

Better-looking 👍

The base of every great tour is great photos. And a good camera is necessary for taking those.

It’s not just because your panoramas will naturally look nicer, because of better sensors and higher pixel resolution.

Good 360 cameras, like the Ricoh Theta Z1 or Insta One X, may also introduce less distortions into your shots.

Why is that important?

Take a look at this tour.

Did you notice how, when you were moving from one panorama to another, objects sort of shifted away from where you were expecting them to be? It’s a little jarring isn’t it?

That’s what happens when your photos are distorted. Your objects aren’t going to be in the exact same place from one panorama to another.

The result is a tour that’s going to look a little unsettling for your viewers, especially if they’re viewing it through a VR headset.

Contrast that with this tour, which was made with a better camera. You’ll notice that unpleasant shifting a lot less.

If quality is important to you, you should definitely get a high quality 360 camera to shoot your tours.

Note: If you can’t afford a high quality 360 camera though, we recommend sticking with a good DSLR instead of settling for a cheap 360 camera.

Faster 👍

Besides making for odd-looking transitions, distortions are also going to make it much harder to snap your panoramas together. You’ll likely be spending more time in the Room Editor trying to get things to fit.

A 360 camera is also much faster to set up. Just stick it on a tripod and shoot.

With a DSLR camera, you’ll need to get a panoramic head and set it up like this every time:

You’ll then need to stitch your photos manually using something like PTGui:

If you have a budget camera, you may also need to spend more time editing your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop to make them look good enough for your tour.

Cheaper 👎

Buying a new camera, especially a good one, will definitely cost you more upfront.

But in the long run, given the time you’ll be saving, you’ll be able to work on more projects and earn your investment back after a few projects.

Or you could earn it back even faster, because with your higher quality tours, you’ll be able to charge your clients more than your current rate.

Photo by Jack Krasky on Unsplash

Better-looking 👍

You might have taken underexposed panoramas, or have shots with your tripod and even cameraman visible. Editing those out will definitely make for a better looking tour.

Faster 👎

Of course, editing will take time.

Here’s the sort of thing you should expect to do for each panorama:

The more panoramas you have, and the higher your standards, the longer you can expect to take with this whole process.

Cheaper 👍

If you’re doing your own editing, and you already have Lightroom/Photoshop and PTGui, this shouldn’t cost you anything extra. You might even earn more money this way, if you charge by the hour (or earn less, if you charge per project).

Photo by Yasmine Boheas on Unsplash

Better-looking 👎

What’s the main appeal of 3D virtual tours versus other online media?

It’s their ability to give people the sensation of virtually moving inside a space.

If there’s just one panorama per room in your tour, viewers won’t be able to enjoy or control that movement.

You’ll lock them into an experience where they won’t be able to explore all the little corners that make a house a home. It’ll still be 360, but you might as well as just show them a photo slideshow.

Faster 👍

You’re taking just one shot per room, so you’ll definitely be able to shoot and edit panoramas much faster this way.

If you want to give your viewers a true 3D virtual tour though, we recommend shooting at least two panoramas per each sizable room. Then you can still speed things up without detracting from the quality as much.

Cheaper 👍

Fewer panoramas will take up less storage space, so you can afford to stay at a lower subscription tier even if your account has dozens of projects.

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