Google Street View Photography Virtual Tour Visual Storytelling

Virtual tours – A new way to answer questions

Virtual Tours - A new way to answer questions

Where should I go on vacation? Which store has what I need? Travellers and shoppers have questions. Brides have even more. They’re looking for a range of suppliers and venues.

It used to be that these questions had to be asked in person or over the phone. Not anymore. Nowadays people find most of the answers they need online by using search engines. But it’s up to you how you answer. You can give them an address and a still photo. Or, you can let them explore all you have to offer with a virtual tour. People like to know what they’re buying. A virtual tour shows them.

Travellers get to wander through their room, checking out details and exploring the view from the balcony. What better way to show them all of the comforts your suites provide. Give them confidence that your accommodations fit their needs.

Does your establishment have a romantic atmosphere? Can couples rest in the hot tub while watching the sunset over the ocean? Does your establishment offer a place to kick back and enjoy a craft beer while watching the game? Does the banquet hall open up to stunning gardens where the wedding guests can cool off after dancing in the ballroom? All these questions can be answered and shared amongst friends through virtual tours. Don’t you want your customers to brag about how much they enjoyed your accommodations? Give them a first class virtual tour and that is exactly what they will do.

You know your clients and what they look for. Is it exquisite art, jewelry, quality furnishings or the wedding dress to die for? Show them that you have what they need. Answer their questions. Bring them inside with a virtual tour and soon they will be on your doorstep. All over the world people use phones, tablets and computers to search for what they want. Social media is a hotbed of reviews and recommendations. Give your customers something they want to share.

Google Street View Virtual Tour Visual Storytelling

Three types of virtual reality tours

Story In Focus offers three types of virtual reality tours. Each type provides a different level of interactivity and content control.

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Basic Tour

With a Basic Tour, potential customers get to look inside your business using virtual reality images posted on the Google Maps server. To create the tour, I shoot a series of photospheres/panoramic images at your location. Then I upload the images to Google and assemble them into a coherent tour. With this type of tour, viewers walk through your business the same way they would if they were actually there.

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Application Program Interface Tour

With this type of tour, I add an interface layer that interacts with the Google Maps tour.  An Application Program Interface Tour can also include navigation links, information windows, external links, photo galleries and even video pop-ups. If you would like to include narration or licensed music to help set a mood, I can do that too. You can start with a Basic Tour and upgrade to an Application Program Interface Tour at any time.

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Custom HTML Tour

The third type of tour is customized and hosted online just for you. If you want the highest level of interaction, this type is the best choice. It includes custom HTML code to achieve amazing effects. For example, with a Custom HTML Tour, I can embed videos that will automatically play as the customer moves through the virtual reality tour. I can create virtual 3d models of products that can be viewed from all angles. The features included depend on what your business needs. This type of tour lets you showcase your services and products in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

Story In Focus wants to fit the package to your needs. Let’s work together to discover which type of tour suits your requirements. Give me a call at 250-510-7971 or send me an email at I’d love to talk to you.


Google Street View Virtual Tour

Give potential customers an inside look

Cowichan Aquatic Centre virtual tour
Cowichan Aquatic Centre – click on image to visit

Imagine you could take every person with an interest in your business on a personal tour of what you have to offer. They could look closer at things that interest them and move through your space at their own speed. It would be difficult to do this in the real world because it would take a lot of time.

But what if you could do this virtually? You could open your doors to potential clients online. You could let them see all you have to offer from wherever they are with just a few clicks of their mouse. Google Street View for business makes that possible. You can have a virtual tour of the inside of your business hosted on Google Maps. When potential customers look for your address or contact information, they will have an opportunity to see what you offer. And that’s not all. You can also add a simple piece of code to your website that will make the virtual tour visible there.

Do you sell wine? Why not showcase your top products to wine lovers who will be travelling through your area or are interested in purchasing online. Do you operate a spa? Why not attract people looking for a perfect gift for their mom or their best friend. If you take them on a virtual tour, they will be more ready to make a purchase.

Brides want to see how special their wedding day will be. Take them inside your venue and they will picture themselves there. And the guy who wants to take his girlfriend to a special location to pop the big question will have more confidence if he can see the place where it will happen in advance.

But it’s not only travel and gifts that should be showcased. If you have an automotive shop, why not show potential customers just how well equipped your shop is? Are you an appliance superstore? Maybe you have some behind-the-scenes information you want to share. It may not always be safe to take people inside your shop, but you can definitely show off your capabilities with a virtual tour. Recently Google changed their rules to allow us to include people’s faces in the tours. We’ll need model releases of course. But you could show some sweat in the gym, hands kneading dough or a cold beer filling a glass—all within your virtual tour.

Does this sound interesting? Want to know how this could work for your business? Give me a call at 250-519-7971 or send me an email Together we’ll explore the possibilities.

Video Marketing

Special Flight Operations Certificates –not just a paper exercise

by Greg Nuspel

Special Flight Operation Certificates --not just a paper exerciseApplying for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) is a lot of work, especially the first one. We wrote four manuals when applying for ours. Perhaps because it is a lot of work, some people are tempted to believe it isn’t necessary. For example, they might think that because their unit weights less than 2 kilograms, they don’t have to worry about getting a SFOC, but it is more complicated than that.

Transport Canada requires all commercial operators to obtain a SFOC unless they can meet the requirements for an exemption. It is important to read all of the requirements because the final note on the list of the exemptions clearly states that no one can fly a UAV within 9 kilometers of any built-up area without a SFOC.

Sure, applying for a SFOC is a lot of work. I won’t deny that. But I would like to point out that the work required to apply for a SFOC is work operators should be doing anyways. Why? Because the SFOC application process helps operators ensure the safety of their operations.

The SFOC application process is really a safety audit of a UAV operation. The Staff Instruction 623.001 provided by Transport Canada can be looked at as a questionnaire about a company’s UAV operation. By assessing themselves on each point in this document and addressing any weaknesses, operators not only ensure that they comply with the SFOC requirements, they also ensure that their operations are safe. This is just part of the due diligence any commercial operation should be doing regardless of the SFOC process. The SFOC application can be thought of as a safety plan. Once the safety plan has been prepared, Transport Canada audits it and issues a SFOC if the UAV operator complies with the requirements.

Some operators look for an easier way, but is it worth the risks? Let’s say an operator obtains a copy of another operator’s SFOC application. Rather than conducting a rigorous safety audit, the operator cheats the system. After changing a few names and other details, the operator submits the application to Transport Canada. A SFOC may be issued, but it will not be worth the paper it is written on.

Since the operator didn’t create the procedures in the SFOC application, they are probably not following them. If there is an incident and an investigation ensues, this will most likely be discovered. The operator would be found in violation of the SFOC and Transport Canada would void the certificate. Since a valid SFOC is required for coverage, the insurer would refuse to cover the incident. All of this risk and recklessness to avoid some “paperwork”, which is not what it’s about anyway. The SFOC application process is not about paper; it’s about aviation safety.

As much as many operators think the process of obtaining a SFOC is a pain, in the end it is a good thing. Safety should be the cornerstone of any commercial operation and the SFOC process is just a good method of checking if the procedures being used comply with all of the aspects of a safe operation. At Story In Focus, we are proud of the manuals we have created for our operation because by following them we ensure a safe operation.

Aerial Services

3D mapping from above

Although 3D mapping has been done for years using various methods, UAVs now offer a new economical alternative to conventional methods. This first image is a mosaic created from a fly-over with a UAV operated by Story In Focus.

Aerial 3D Mapping


It is constructed of 28 images shot from 162 feet above the take-off point. While the autopilot triggers the camera, it also records the GPS position of the UAV. All the position information and photos are imported into the photo analysis software. Through the miracle of mathematics and image recognition, the software creates a point cloud in 3D space that represents the terrain.

Point Cloud


This point cloud contains all the information needed to create a 3D surface model of the area. The texture mapping is completed next, giving the surface a realistic appearance.

Measure Volume


There are many benefits to having a 3D surface model with texture mapping and software capable of analyzing the information. Do you see the light colored gravel pile in the foreground? That gravel pile contains 596 cubic meters of material. How do we know that? Well, we used the aerial survey gathered with our UAV and Agisoft software ( to calculate that information. This complete aerial survey and results were obtained within four hours from the take-off of the UAV. Models created by the software can also be imported into other mapping and design software for use by engineers, architects, aggregate companies, landscapers, and others.

Not only do UAVs produce wonderful aerial images and videos, they also can provide valuable information at a lower cost than conventional methods. This example is just one of the possibilities. Together let’s find ways for your company to reduce costs through the use of our services.