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Cubic VR - How to do it tips ...
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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 the hot-spots.

The Skin

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 (including Flash).

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.

 

 

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