January 28, 2022

How to Shoot a 360 Virtual Tour Using a DSLR in 8 Steps

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

Virtual tours have become necessary for businesses that want to market their physical space online. In our digital age, potential customers are highly likely to search your establishments on the internet before making their way down in person. Without any online presence, most won’t bother taking a second look in your direction. This is why industries like real estate and even F&B outlets are jumping on the virtual tour bandwagon to ensure they’re accessible to their customers whether it’s on their site or as a Google Virtual Tour. However, creating a virtual tour requires a few steps and some skills but we’re here to break it down for you. Here are 8 steps on how to shoot a 360 virtual tour.

How to shoot a 360 virtual tour 

1. Get suitable equipment

The foundation of a good virtual tour is high-quality and professional equipment, which is why we recommend using a DSLR that can capture crisp and clear images. Your full set of equipment should include the camera body, a fisheye lens for a broader and wider shot, a ball head that is placed on the tripod for stable rotation, a panoramic head that is used to find the No Parallax Point (NPP), a release remote that can capture images wirelessly with a click of a button and lastly, a tripod stand. A 360 camera is a possible alternative that has a much simpler process but at the expense of the image quality. 

2. Have a plan 

You don’t want to go into a shoot without a plan or you could risk wasting too much time and also leaving out important shots. Especially if your space has multiple rooms, you should plan out all your shots for each room. During your planning process, figure out the spot where you will be placing the camera and mark it out. This spot is typically in the centre of the room where you can easily manoeuvre the camera in a full 360 turn. However, the centre may not always be the best spot and this really depends on the lighting and if you’re able to capture the important features of your space from that angle.

3. Stage your space 

One of the top rules of How to Shoot a 360 Virtual Tour 101 is to ensure that your space looks good. Obviously, if you’re trying to sell and entice customers to your space, you have to make it visually appealing enough on photos to get them to come down and visit it in person. Therefore, it’s extremely important to clear and furnish the space well before starting the shoot. Ensure that in every frame, there are no distractions in the camera line and every nook and cranny can be seen. The furnishing should not be crammed to avoid blockage and should instead be spaced out. It’s also much better if no one is walking into your frame when you’re shooting so do block off entry if possible. 

4. Set up your camera 

Setting up your camera correctly is vital in getting aligned shots. First, set up your tripod and ball head with your DSLR camera mounted on top. Next, fix your panoramic head to the tripod to find your No Parallex Point, which is the axis the camera sits on so that the surroundings will move at the same speed when the camera is rotated. Point the camera lens downwards, facing the panoramic head and align the marker on the panoramic head to the camera’s autofocus point. Bring your camera back up, facing the space you’re about to shoot. Place an object 2 steps away from the camera and another object two steps behind the first. Begin adjusting the distance of the camera until the 2 objects start to overlap each other at every angle the camera is turned. This is the No Parallex Point and you should maintain your camera in this position throughout the shoot. 

5. Take some test shots 

To ensure that your images will turn out well, take a couple of test shots of the space. Here is where you can make any minor adjustments to the staging of the space depending on what you see in the test shots. If the lighting needs to be adjusted or furniture needs to be moved around, be sure to refer to the framing in the test shots and tweak the space accordingly. 

6. Shoot your entire space 

To make sure you’re getting a clear shot of the space, carefully move your camera around the ball head without moving the tripod to get a circumferential view of the space. After every shot, check your image before moving on to the next one. You should ensure that your photos aren’t blurry or unclear. For peace of mind, take more shots than you need because it’s always better to have more options than none at all. 

7. Edit & stitch 

You now know how to shoot a 360 virtual tour but the last piece of the puzzle that completes the project is the stitching of images. This will require software such as PTGui and Autopano Pro that can edit the photos together to create one single panoramic view. You will have to export all the images in your camera into the software and apply the right settings as well as control points. . If an image needs to be photoshopped because there are unnecessary items in the shot that you overlooked, you can do so after this process. 

8. Customise your virtual tour 

The beauty of a virtual tour is that it's completely customisable according to each brand. Virtual tours come with different functions like infoboxes, audio tours or even a navigation menu. Once you have stitched your images together, you will require additional software to create these add-ons. 

Lessen your workload by outsourcing to agencies 

Shooting a virtual tour can be quite challenging even with our ‘How to shoot a 360 virtual tour’ guide. It can be pretty time-consuming if you don’t have the expertise and not to mention the pricey equipment. If you’re interested in creating a virtual tour for your space but don’t have the confidence to do it by yourself, don’t be afraid of sourcing agencies. These virtual tour agencies not only save you time, they also have the best equipment, latest software technology and professionals to ensure the highest quality work.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

The Red Marker is a virtual tour agency that specialises in Google Virtual Tours but has since expanded to offering Matterport and rendering services. We have been digitising space since 2014 and with our team of experienced professionals, we boast a portfolio of well-known clients such as Mercedes Benz, NTUC and DBS. For enquiries on our services, drop us a message to begin your digitisation journey.