Categories
Google Street View Photography

Improve Your Image

Google has taken Street View images of almost the entire world. As part of this process, they have captured most businesses. While most of these Street View images show a great view of the street, they probably don’t show a great view of your business. For example, your business address could be associated with a Street View image that looks like the one that used to be posted for Cowichan Cycles:

Cowichan Cycles Before Street View Image

 

Google understands that you may prefer to use an image that better represents your business. That is why they started the Google Trusted Photographer program. As part of this program, Greg Nuspel at Story in Focus can create a Street View image that showcases your business and he can post that image on Google Maps. Story In Focus did this for Cowichan Cycles and this is how their Street View looks now:

Improved Street View Image

The new image has all the interactivity you expect with Street View and it features the business prominently.

With the help of a Google Trusted Photographer, you can also have an enhanced listing created for your business. Story In Focus helped Cowichan Cycles enhance their Google Maps listing by adding a virtual tour of the inside of their business. Now potential customers can tour the outside of the store and they can See Inside too. What better way to showcase the quality products and services they provide?

Cowichan Cycles Google Maps Listing

Try it out for yourself. Go to Google Maps and search for your business. What do you see? Do you think it’s time to improve your image? Complete tours start at $400.00. Give Story In Focus a call at 250.510.7971. Greg will happily come by to discuss your needs and provide an estimate.

Categories
Google Street View Photography Video Production Virtual Tour

What is HDR

When shooting virtual tours, we take three to nine images, each at a different exposure. Then we combine these images into one image. Yes, we use the M setting on our camera. And no, it doesn’t stand for missed another one. The reason we take multiple exposures is so that we can achieve what is called High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR gives us expanded capabilities which enable us to capture the entire brightness range of the scene and adjust the final image to look just right.

HDR Exposures

In this image, the five exposures are each one stop apart. On the far left, you can see detail in the sky. On the far right, you can see detail in the shadows. When combined these images can have various outputs, depending on the editor.

High Dynamic Range HDR output

We prefer the photographic look of the center image. Although the image on the left is useable, it doesn’t look realistic because the shadows are boosted too much. The image on the right is an art project, which is fine if that is the intent.

Where a single exposure gives a reasonable image most of the time, an HDR makes a good exposure possible in places where there is a high dynamic range. Imagine having to get the same exposure when shooting photos all the way around in a circle. Facing one direction, the photos would be directly into the sun. Facing the other, the sun would be lighting the scene. This is why HDR is important. It prevents the images from being a complete disaster. When we combine the HDR images into a panorama by careful adjustment, the entire scene becomes viewable. Special software also helps blend the exposure from one direction to the next. No one likes skies that are so blown out it looks like a blizzard is coming, or shadows that obscure large portions of an image.

Categories
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 greg@storyinfocus.com. I’d love to talk to you.

 

Categories
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 greg@storyinfocus.com. Together we’ll explore the possibilities.

Categories
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 (www.agisoft.com) 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.