Taking the pictures
Using a digital SLR camera with a very wide
angle rectilinear (not fisheye) lens, mounted on Kaidan
QPS-1 rig, three rows of twelve overlapping photographs
were taken. One additional photo is taken looking straight
up and straight down with the rig removed. The quality of
these original images is very significant in the further work
- for example, any change in lighting during the shoot can
be very noticable.
These photographs are then fed into RealViz Stitcher Cubic VR software which outputs six new images making the faces of a cube.
Ideally, the up and down pictures mentioned above can be used to
"cover over" where the rig is placed in the scene. Alternatively,
you can simply try to graphically "paint out" the rig
and any blind spot immediately overhead. In the images shown here
used we have used a down shot to remove the rig view and have "painted
out" the overhead blind spot. We have left the image paint-out
piece deliberately messy so that you can see it! This is also the
time to add any other editing to the real scene - tricky if the
image you want to add cuts across two faces or the cube and is distorted.
Assembling the Cubic VR movie
The six cubic faces next have to be converted to a
Cubic VR movie, and any 'hot-spots' added. This was done using a
free utility program called 'QTVR Make Cubic'. This program, together
with a tutorial on creating the hotspots, can be downloaded from
the Apple website at http://developer.apple.com/quicktime/quicktimeintro/tools/.
Did you catch all the links in the scene - one common UI feature
of such movies is to have a clearer indication of the "clickable"
areas, maybe with a "show hot-spots" button or by having
them light up slightly as you roll over them. Ours are quite subtle
- so you can click on the arrow icon below the pan button to reveal
Next, we decided to show off the movie in a skin.
The 'skinned' movie was created by combining the graphics for the
frame, the Cubic VR movie, a 'mask' skin and a 'drag' skin. The
frame can be full colour and any file type that QuickTime supports
The shape of the window is controlled by a 'window mask' which is just a black and white image (pict, bmp etc.), the black indicating the final shape of the window. Unfortunately it has to be a 1-Bit image - so some experimentation if using curves is required to alleviate too many 'jagged' edges.
A 'drag mask', similar to the window mask is created
next. This defines the areas where a user can click and drag the
movie window, black indicating that they can. The white areas indicate
non 'draggable' areas and areas for any controls incorporated into
the design that need to be 'clicked' not dragged.
The overall host Movie
The final movie hosting the vr and sporting the skin
was created using Totally
Hip's Livestage Professional 3. This software is a QuickTime
authoring environment, which allows the creation of layered, and
scripted QuickTime movies. In the case of the Cubic VR described
here, the movie consists of a total of seven layers, this includes
the 'skin', 'Cubic VR', the background and 'sprite' layers.
The sprite layers have been used for the various control
buttons and by scripting these sprites using the LiveStage programming
language called 'QScript' it is possible to generate the rollover
image changes, the spinning logo, launching a web page etc. The
QScript also allows the scripting of the Cubic VR itself allowing
the pan, tilt and zoom to be set, and to program the action which
occurs when a hotspot is clicked.
This concept demonstration only scratches the surface
of the capabilities of a layered QuickTime Movie. LiveStage also
allows the incorporation of Macromedia
Flash movies, text tracks (which can be editable), Zoomify movies
etc. combined with the ability to script all these elements and
even allow one movie to communicate and control another, makes this
a very powerful tool.