Showing posts with label Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogging. Show all posts

How To Create A 360 Degree Panoramic Tour For Second Life Destinations

This is the third tutorial in the series on creating 360 degree panoramas for Second Life. The other two tutorials are perhaps unimaginatively titled:
The first of in the series showed how to use two different free apps, Hugin and ICE to stitch Second Life images into a panoramic view. 

Part 2 covered how to add the necassary metadata to the panoramic image, how to preview the image before uploading it, how to upload it to Facebook, and then how to embed it on a blog.

In this tutorial we'll show how to create a 360 degree panoramic tour for Second Life destinations. The idea is to seamlessly move from one panoramic view to another, and to include clickable areas that reveal information or images.

What Is A 360 Degree Panoramic Tour?

A 360 degree panoramic tour can be a unique way to represent a Second Life destination, or a group of destinations to anyone who may be unfamiliar with your inworld content, therefore encouraging them to visit - or just enjoy the tour. These tours can usually be embedded or linked to in a blog or shared on social media.

Take a look at the above example to see how tours work in practise. Click on the < > arrows to move from one scene to another and click on icons visible in the scenes to see what they do. The cog icon to the top right toggles audio files on and off. To get  a much better view  visit the tour on Google Tours and go full screen.

There is software available which can be used to create panoramic tours, but they tend to be expensive and they present the problem of how to upload and display the completed tour on a website. For many Second Life blog or website owners this approach is clearly overkill, particularly as using an online service is much simpler and less costly.

Rather than using software there are online platforms that can be used to create panoramic tours, each one coming with their own set of pros and cons - and price ranges. A happy compromise is to use the free Google's Tour Creator, which is what we'll do here.

We assume you already have a Google account and are signed into it, and have a number of 360 panoramic views to create the tour with.

The subect of the tour we're going to create here is The Pulse, a Second Life music venue and a favourite haunt of mine.

Creating a 360 Degree Panoramic Tour with Google's Tour Creator

1/ This is the landing page of Google's Tour Creator. Click on the Get Started button.

2/ On the new page that opens hit the New tour button.

3/ In the title space add the name of the tour. There is also a description box. Click on Select an image to navigate to a cover pic (highlighted above in green). Images can also be dragged to this part of the screen.

4/ When you're ready hit Create, highlighted in red.

5/ This page will open. Ignore the Street View section and hit Upload instead.

6/ This page will open. Either drag the first 360 degree panoramic image to the space, or hit Select a 360 degree Image then navigate to its location on your hard drive and upload it. You'll then be able to see the image as a 360 degree view.

 7/ Towards the bottom left of the uploaded image is an option to select the starting view. Click on the icon then drag and rotate to the starting view you want.

8/ When you're ready hit Save.

Adding Ambient Sound To The First Panorama

1/ To the right of the panoramic view is a panel. There is an area for the name of the first panorama and a description. Beneath that there is an audio icon, (highlighted in red). Click this to add a sound file. Since The Pulse is a Second Life club, music would be a good option.

2/ Once the audio file has uploaded this window will appear. Click Add. The audio is now added to the first section of the tour.

Adding An Image To The First Panorama

1/ Under the audio icon there is an Add point of interest option. Click on this. An icon will appear over the panorama. Drag it to where you want it to appear in the scene.

2/ Add a title for the image and a description in the panel to the right of the panorama scene. Now hit the image icon, highlighted in red.

3/ Navigate to the image to upload it or drag it to the Drop an image here space.

4/ Once the image has uploaded hit Add.

5/ The image will now appear over the panoramic view. The blue squares around the image can be used to resize it. Once you're happy with the size of the image. click away from it to close it.

 6/ An image icon will be visible over the panoramic view, and when this is clicked the uploaded image will open. The icon can be repositioned when dragged.

Adding Information To An Area Of The Panorama

1/ In the panel to the right click on Add point of interest again.

2/ Click on the panorama image where you want the information icon to appear. This of course should be a spot relevant to the information.

3/ In the side panel add a title for the information, then add the text. Click away from the side panel when you're done.

4/ The side panel will now look something like the above, with the image and text information areas collapsed.

5/ The information icon can be dragged into position if needed.

Adding More Scenes

Under the panoramic image is the option to add another scene (or another 360 degree panoramic image) to the tour. Click on Add scene then repeat all of the above steps. Keep on adding more scenes, audio files, images and information until your tour is complete. For the tour of The Pulse six scenes were added.

Publishing the Tour

1/ Towards the top right of the panoramic image is a Publish button. When your tour is complete click on the button.

2/ This small window will appear giving the choice of making the tour public or private. When you're ready hit Publish.

3/ When the tour has been published to Google Tour Creator this window will show, with the url of the tour and an option to view it for the first time. Click Done to close this window.  Your tour is now complete and ready to be viewed and shared.

4/ The next time you visit Google Tour Creator and hit the Get Started button you'll see the above. Hit Draft to edit the tour. There should be a row of white vertical dots to the right of your tour thumbnail. Click on them to open the options to either delete or view the tour.

5/ When viewing the tour there will be two icons to the upper right.

6/ Click the cog icon which will toggle audio files off and on. The other icon is the fullscreen option.

Embedding The Tour On Your Blog

One of the best places to attract an audience for your new tour is on a blog or website. Embedding the tour is very simple.

1/ Below the published tour are the above icons. Click the Share option.

2/ This window will open. Click the Embed option.

3/ This window will now open showing what the tour will look like on the website or blog. Drag your mouse over the iframe markup, right click and select Copy.

4/ In Blogger sign into the dashboard and create a new post. Under the HTML tab name the new post and paste the iframe markup.

5/ Under the Compose tab the tour should be visible, although it may take a short while to appear.

If you use a blogging platform other than Blogger you'll need to find an option to paste HTML markup to the page, which most good paltforms will have.

Enjoy sharing your newly created 360 degree panoramic tour with all your friends and blogging followers, and come back for more tutorials and other goodies very soon.

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Creating 360 Degree Panoramas For Second Life Part 2

In the first part of this series of tutorials on creating 360 degree panoramas for Second Life, we looked at how to create the panoramic images using Hugin and ICE.

Later In part three we'll show how to create a 360 degree panoramic tour for Second Life destinations.

But first in this tutorial we'll look at how to add meta data to the panoramic images, how to view the images on your desktop, how to upload the panorama to Facebook, and then how to embed it on your blog or website.

Adding Meta Data To A Panoramic Image

There are a number of ways to add the necassary metadata to an image so online locations such as Facebook know to display tham as 360 degree views. In this tutorial however we're going to use Exif Fixer. Follow the link to download and install it onto your PC.

1/ When you first open Exif Fixer this is what you'll see. Open the folder where the panorama you created is located and drag the it to the display area of Exif Fixer.

2/ Exif Fixer should now look something like the above.

3/ If you click on the Exisiting Metadata button a window should pop up looking similar to the above.

4/ The text highlighted in blue to the right is the extra information we want to add to the image's metadata.

To the lower left is an option to either keep or delete the original image after the metadata has been added, highlighted in blue. Here the box is ticked for the original image to be deleted.

Time to click the Add Metadata button, highlighted in red.

5/ The window showing the original metadata should now look something like this, showing the extra information has been added to the panorama image. Exif Fixer can now be closed.

Previewing The 360 Degree Panorama On Your Desktop 

Previewing the panorama on your desktop isn't esssential but its helpful to see how good the image looks and to check for any blemishes before uploading it online. For this we'll need another small app, and the easiest to install is the LizardQ Viewer.

 1/ When LizardQ Viewer first opens it will look something like this, with the explorer window open to make it easy to navigate to the location of the panorama.

2/ This is the panorama loaded into the viewer. The edges or corner of the viewer can be dragged to resize the image area, or you can right click and from the menu select fullscreen.

To move around the image simply hold down the left mouse button and drag as you would with any 360 degree panorama, although one small quirk with LizardQ is you need to drag in the opposite direction to rotate the view as you would with an online image.

Once we're sure the image is good enough to upload online LizardQ can be closed by hitting Esc on the keyboard.

Uploading The 360 Degree Panorama To Facebook

One of the handiest locations to upload to and share 360 degree panoramas is Facebook, so this is what we'll do next. The process is very easy.

1/ Assuming you're already logged into your Facebook account, start to upload the panorama as you would with any image or video by hitting the Photo/Video button.

2/ The upload process will begin, and the double circle icon in the centre of the grey square indicates that Facebook recognises the image as a 360 degree panorama.

3/ Some text will need to be added. After the upload has finished an icon will appear in the bottom right of the thumbnail, highlighted in red. When clicked this will enable us to do a little editing to the panorama.

4/ When the icon is clicked this window will open so we can select the starting view. Drag the image so you get the view you want then hit the Save button.

5/ Now hit Share.

6/ The 360 degree panorama is now live on Facebook for everyone to see.

There is a Facebook group for 360 degree panoramas created in Second Life. Just click the link to view and join.

Panoramic images can also be uploaded to Flickr, in the same way as other images are uploaded, and there is a group for 360 degree panoramas created in Second Life. Panoramic images on Flickr can also be embedded on a blog, but the method described below looks much better.

Embedding a 360 Degree Panorama On A Blog

Once you've created a number of panoramas a blog is an excellent way of promoting your work. Firstly however you'll need to find a website that allows you to upload panoramas and provides a link for each image. There are a number of such locations online but we'll focus on one since the process of embedding the panorama will be very similar for all websites. The site we're going to use is Momento360.

1/ Once you've registered with Momento360 you'll see something similar to the above, which is the top part of their user's landing page. If you see something slightly different click on the My Media tab.

To upload a panorama hit the Upload button and follow the instructions. the process is very easy.

2/ Once the 360 degree panorama has uploaded click on it and you'll see something similar to the above. The image can be dragged and rotated just like the image uploaded to Facebook.

To embed the panorama we need to get the image link, so click on the icon highlighted in red.

3/ This drop down menu will  appear. Click on Share Or Embed A Link.

4/ This window will open. Click on the oval Copy button to copy the link to your clipboard.

5/ So we can embed the panorama we need to create an iframe code to add to the blog, so we'll use this website to generate it. There are a number of sites we could use, but  Makingdifferent is very good and keeps things simple.

When you follow the above link you'll see a simple form as above.

6/ In the top space we name our iframe code. In the space below that called iFrame URL we paste the link we copied from Momento360.

In the next couple of spaces we add the width and height we want the panorama to be on the blog. Select No for Show Border, then hit the Generate button at the bottom of the form.

7/ The above window will appear. Hit the Copy To Clipboard button to copy the iframe code.

8/ We can now paste the iframe code to a blog post so the 360 degree panorama will be embedded.

From the Blogger dashboard hit the New Post button, then select the HTML tab. Now paste the iframe code. If you return to the Compose tab you should see the embedded panorama, although it may take a moment to load.

Add more content to the blog post if you want to then hit the Publish button.

Your embedded panorama should look similar to the above, and can be dragged to rotate the view, just like the panorama on Facebook and Momento360. It may be a good idea to link to the original panorama on Momento360 because the site offers excellent fullscreen views. Double click on the panorama above to zoom in and out.

Bonus Tip

Thats essentially all that part 2 of the series on 360 degree panoramas for Second Life set out to cover, but we have a little bonus tip on how to view your image inworld as media on a prim. To begin with, make sure you have the link copied from Momento360, as shown above.

 1/ The above image shows a prim face resting on another prim. Right click on the prim and select Edit to open the Edit panel.

2/ To the top left choose Select Face, then click on the prim face visible in the first image above.

In the area highlighted in red select Media from the dropdown menu. Now hit the Choose button, highlighted in blue.

3/ The above window will open. Under the General tab paste the copied link into the area highlighted in red.  Selecting Auto Zoom is optional.

Hit the Apply button. A thumbnail of the panorama should appear in the window, although it may take a while to show.

4/ Under the Customize tab you can select whether to show a navigation bar above the prim and who can use it. As the prim is going to be used only for the panorama, all the options here have been unchecked. When you're ready click OK.

The prim now shows the 360 panorama and whilst it is as interactive as the image on Facebook and Momento360, it should be expected that its much slower to respond. This is however still a quite a novel way of viewing panoramas.

This completes the second part of our tutorials on 360 degree panoramas for Second Life, and we hope they have been very useful to you. Enjoy creating and sharing your images.
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