How involved is 360 product photography? Folks often think that capturing say 20-40 images of a product rotating around its center and integrating it all into a 360 product viewer is not that big of a deal. And they would be right!
It's true, you can just put a product on a turntable, adjust camera and lights, click start, wait for the Ortery table to go a full circle, click another button or two to generate a generic viewer, and done - ready for publishing! True, we could have been doing it this way also.. Though our goal from the very beginning was to make it a perfection, make it such that each image is consistent, light is even, product branding is clear, alignment is spot on, background is pure, reflections are smooth, etc, etc, etc. It was tough and hundreds of small iterative improvements were required before we could start feeling comfortable with our quality.
Just couple of days ago via a blog post HERE we found a company in UK that produced and published a 360 product view of exactly the same product as the one we have been working on here a couple of months ago (one of many in both cases). So we thought it would be interesting to compare the two in the context of this post.
Click on these images to see 360 views of the same scuba buoyancy compensator (BCD).
[June 8th, 12 - these samples have been removed as part of our new website deployment. You can find our latest samples here]
It's understandable that folks who produced the first 360 view had limited resources/time and probably couldn't hire a professional studio given the number of SKU's they sell on their properties. Though this is a good illustration of what the difference can be when it comes to 360 product photography. We're pretty sure we spent much more efforts on our product view even with the experience we gained in the recent years.
Here's what makes our product view standout:
- Light: we have plenty of power in our continuous lighting setups. This allows bringing nice highlights and good contrast that is essential for still photography and is not always straightforward to achieve for video or rotational photography. Often to maintain consistent lighting across multiple images of a single product (especially if it's reflective or has too much contrast going on, i.e black and white parts) we re-position the lights on every single shot.
- Positioning: putting the compensator on a turntable to let it sit there "as is" was something we did consider but this was rejected as it would be impossible to keep the shape of the product intact. Also the rotation would almost certainly be off balance. A special rig was built to allow hanging the product from above. On top of that, we spent enough time making the product look good: cleaning, attaching straps, belts, hoses, etc with double-sided tape, wires, fishing lines.
- Background: we always remove background from our images (and everything else that is not beneficial for a product view). Hand-drawn clipping path on couple of dozen images per product is not the most exciting part of our work, but we always do this.
- Post-production: in addition to background removal, there's color balancing, exposure, levels, contrast, etc, etc.
- Viewer: that's where time is less of an issue as we have our own viewer technology and software tools that makes it fun actually. Indeed, it gets pretty exciting around here every time a new 360 product view is released - so much efforts transform into a nice looking presentation that excites not just us but our clients and their website visitors as well!
PS: Our current website samples and 360 product view tour have not been updated for a while now and the quality of these samples is not 100% representative of our latest offerings.