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The Making of a QuickTime VR Panorama

For the amateur photographer interested in creating QuickTime VR panoramas, here is a summary of steps that I've found work for me. I have no doubt that better tools and equipment would produce better results, but it is possible to construct panoramas of acceptable quality quite inexpensively.

Minimum Requirements


Everything begins with the sequence of photographs. Here is a list of things to watch for— probably none of these are critical, but the better you can make your pictures, the more time you will save yourself later on:


The key here is to try and minimize the number of processing steps, because the further along the chain you get the more quality you lose and the less consistent the frames become. If you use a digital camera, this step is no problem. With a film camera, there are four different ways that I know of to convert photographs into digital images:


Once the photographs are digitized comes the hard part: stitching the individual pictures into a consistent linear panorama. First, combine the photographs into a single Photoshop document, each single photograph into its own layer:
Panorama Original Photographs
Then, line up the pictures so that the features match as well as possible, though they will often not, especially when objects are near.
Panorama Aligned Photographs
If the brightness and contrast of individual photographs are not balanced, you need to even them out. I haven't found an easy way to do this:

In addition to this, to account for processing differences in individual photographs you need to adjust the brightness, contrast, and color balance of the frame in its entirety so that each frame matches its neighbor.

You can see that the result of all this is better, though not perfect:

Panorama Contrast Corrected
Finally, use the Perspective and Distort effects around the left and right edges of each frame to line up the features (note how the horizon has become much more even):
Panorama Perspective Corrected
Finally, flatten the image into a single layer, rotate 90° counterclockwise and save as an uncompressed PICT. The image width and height need to be a multiple of some numbers that I always forget, but you can go on to the next step, let the tool suggest the right image size for you, and then come back and crop it.


You need Apple's ‘Make QTVR Panorama’ tool to create the panoramic movie. Remarkably, it is the simplest step of all, and there is not much to do here but select the compression method— I use medium Photo-JPEG.

If you intend to serve the panorama on the Web, you need ‘flatten’ it into a single fork. You can do this easily by opening the panorama movie in the QuickTime Player and then Exporting it as a ‘hinted’ movie.

Note: A “da$” (or ‘decadollar’) by the Système International (SI) system of units, is 10 dollars.

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