Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

How to shoot and create aerial 360 panoramas – Part 1

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With all the recent interest in 360º VR technology, cameras like the Ricoh Theta S and the new GoPro Fusion, we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface on the latest craze. After Facebook introduced the ability to view 360 panorama images directly in the page feeds, they not only allow you to upload directly from your cameras or iPhones, but also to create spherical panos that you can capture professionally with your drone and some computer magic and bringing old print panos to new life in the process. So let’s take a look at what’s involved:

San Francisco Sunrise pano

Shooting your aerial pano

There are several ways to capture imagery to create your panorama image with a camera drone. You can manually position and trigger the camera to take the shots you need, record 4K video while panning the craft and pull the desired frames out later or you can utilize an app such as DronePan if you’re flying a DJI Phantom Mavic Pro or Inspire.

If you’re shooting manually or selecting frames from a video clip, then make sure you have about 50-70% overlap in the images as you frame them up during your panning. This will ensure you’ll have enough data for the pano stitching software to do its job.

Using DronePan with a DJI Phantom quadcopter

Manual overlap of aerial panorama frames

I will typically do a full rotate with the camera facing straight out at 90º, then do another full rotation down about 60º, then another about 30º and finally one straight down at 0º (nadir). If it’s a clear blue sky day above you, then you may not need to also capture an image straight up at 180º (zenith) but hard to do with a drone so at least capture one with your iPhone and you can edit it in later.

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