Knowing and Commissioning a Virtual Trip – A Beginner’s Guide

The virtual tour is a complete 360-degree view of a space. The user can feel as if they’re standing within an area, and then can control their motion within the area. They can look up over them, at the floor below them, and all around. Users are also able to zoom in and out, giving them the ability to focus in on areas of interest. Each digital tour is usually made up from a number of photographs which are ‘stitched’ together

Where are they used?
One of the most familiar programs of virtual tours is by estate agents. These virtual tours are usually small scale, and low-quality, as price is the biggest issue.

High resolution virtual tours that can be viewed in full screen are the best option for any organisation for whom quality is essential. A hotel group will use digital tours to show the potential clients the standard of the rooms. Other examples of potential virtual tour customers include meeting centres, museums, hospitals, car producers, football clubs, universities, architects plus property developers – all of who benefit by showing off their area to its best advantage.

Exactly what extra features can a digital tour have?
You can use the virtual tours in many different ways on your web site, depending on how you’d like to display them. Virtual tours can be linked to the floorplan, so that users can really feel orientated and choose how plus where to move within a space. This is particularly useful for architects or house developers. Eye Revolution have developed an example of this type for The Edison club and lounge.

A Google Maps interface enables users to see virtual travels that are geographically removed from each other : a large number of virtual tours can just about all be linked via a map. Britannia Vista offers an excellent example of this kind of implementation.

Many virtual tour suppliers will also be able to integrate hotspots — special links within a virtual visit. You may even want to include an sound script, a soundtrack or even several video in your virtual tours.

Speak with the virtual tour companies concerning the project, and they will be able to suggest interfaces that may be appropriate for you.

What’s the benefit of a virtual tour on your internet site?
A virtual tour which is highly relevant to the viewer can help both create a brand and sell a product. So regarding an architect’s website, where a part of their portfolio is available to be toured, the viewer is able to see the high quality of the architect’s work, choose where they’d like to focus on (rather compared to being dependent on the ‘right’ stills being provided) and then zoom in and see the small details. This gives the business a big advantage over their competitors as potential clients get a better insight into the product on offer.

How should I choose a virtual tour provider?
The good news is that there’s lots of choice out there. The bad news is that there are some very poor providers as well. The best bet is to make a shortlist of virtual tour providers and then have a very thorough look through their portfolios. Look for ‘stitching errors’ – locations where the photographs that make up the trip don’t line up properly. Look for clearness – are the lines clear plus sharp, or fuzzy, pixellated or indistinct? Can you see odd colors which don’t look ‘right’, particularly on edges of objects in the tours. Check for over-exposure – so can you see through windows, or are they all of white and hazy? Can you look around a full 360-degrees, or are the ceilings and floors blocked off?

For anyone who is looking for a high quality virtual tour, it’s important that your providers are good photographers. When they’re poor photographers, nothing can make your virtual tour look as good as it should.

So , going through their profile to make sure that you’re happy with the quality of their particular virtual tour work and that they have perhaps a good range of clients and encounter is vital to the success of your digital tour project.

Is it expensive?
This particular depends on the type of project that you’re commissioning. Talk to the providers you’ve shortlisted, describe your project in as much details as possible and ask them to quote.
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The ‘menu’ of prices (where you can view the cost per virtual tour, rather than the total cost for 10 virtual tours) is often useful, as it enables you to compare like with like.

The important thing to notice is that the old adage still applies – if you pay peanuts, you receive monkeys! Good virtual tour providers will be investing in new equipment, instruction and software on an ongoing basis. They will also be expert in retouching, and can use their skills to ensure your tours look as good as they could. This investment means that you get the perfect end result, and as you’re going to live with this on your website – possibly for a number of years – you want to make sure that the particular virtual tours are perfect. For anyone who is being offered a deal that seems to good to be true, again, appear back carefully at the portfolio and assess the quality again.

How do I get it on my website?
Your virtual tour provider will provide you with files which can be uploaded to your site, or they may be hosted on your virtual tour provider’s server. They will be able to liaise together with your web designer to ensure the smooth delivery and upload of the virtual tours.

There are many plugins through which people can watch virtual tours (for example, Expensive, QuickTime, Java, Shockwave and OpenGL). Flash’s high penetration (97% within developed markets) tends to make it the primary choice, however , providers will be able to discuss the best options with you.

So finally…
Good virtual tours that endure the test of time and enhance your site visitors’ experience will be likely to increase sales, will encourage people to return, and might over time increase the traffic to your website.

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