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Magento Extension for Our 360 Product Viewers is Live on Magento Connect

by WebRotate 360 September 19, 2010 20:58

Our official extension for Magento e-commerce just got approved and is now featured on Magento Connect. This is great news as it makes it so simple to integrate our 360 product viewers with Magento powered ecommerce stores. Although the integration code has been available for a while now (read our press release) it was still quite painful to install without the ease of Magento Connect. Now getting and enabling the extension practically excludes any manual, error-prone mangling with the xml files and php code. And best of all, we made the configuration of the product viewer a breeze with a simple Settings tab that lets you configure your 360 product spins in couple of simple steps while having the flexibility to enable it on per product basis.

Checkout these screenshots with our sample 360 product viewer and the configuration options running on our test Magento store or visit our extension page on Magento Connect that has installation and usage details.

Click HERE to visit our Magento Extension page. 

 

[June 8th, 12 - these samples have been removed as part of our new website deployment. You can find our latest samples here]

 

Current version of the extension is 2.11 and it's free!

We are looking forward to further growth of Magento platform and will continue providing our clients with the same peace of mind and without the technical limitations.


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360 Product Photography Equipment - Do it Yourself Guide to Building a Turntable

by WebRotate 360 August 28, 2010 16:57

360 degree product photography is a so delicate and involved topic because products come in so many shapes and sizes. Some may be very reflective, some may have dimensions that will prevent you from simply dropping them on a turntable, and some may have features that can be only highlighted when shot from a specific angle while hanging from the top and with a certain lighting setup.

The more constraints you have in your 360 product photography setup the less options you get at your disposal for creating smooth 360 product views. It's also very important to be able to quickly assess how your product appear from different angles with a given setup before you start on the actual production of 360 product images.

So before you go ahead and spend your hard earned money on a computerized equipment (which is invaluable if you do this commercially), here's a simple guide for building a DIY turntable that will likely solve some of your 360 degree product photography needs. The good news? It will only cost you a trip to a hardware store (Ace Hardware or similar), $40 and an hour of your time to get it all assembled together!

What you need:

  • 2 x 23" disks of round plywood - $28
  • 1 x 12" Lazy Susan Bearing - $6
  • 1 sheet of white paper enough to cover the top of plywood disks

360 product photography equipment

So our 360 photography turntable will be built using two disks of round plywood and a lazy susan bearing attached between the disks to provide a smooth and steady movement. The bearing is tough enough to deal with weights of up to 400-500 lbs or even 1000 lbs depending on a brand, so the weak link is the plywood. If you go with Shepherd's bearing (featured in the picture), they come with pretty good assembly instructions. The key is to find and mark the center on the plywood disks. This is pretty simple as long as the disks are perfect circles:

First, you will need to find something that has a 90 degree corner like a piece of a white paper sheet. Place the right-angle corner of the sheet at any point on the edge of the plywood disk and mark the other two points where it crosses the edges on the plywood. Then draw a straight line between the two marks and connect the marks with a straight line. Now repeat the same procedure using another point on the plywood. The intersection between the two lines is the center of the disk.


The rest of the assembly is pretty straightforward - just follow instructions on the bearing package!

Now that the major work is done, you need to decide how many frames your 360 product views will be comprised of. We usually recommend going with 20 to 40 or so 360 degree product photos as this gives a nice balance between the total size of the images / download speed and the smoothness of your 360 product spins. To get 20 product shots, our turntable should be able to rotate in 18 degree increments. The key is to mark the top plywood disk in such way that you can easily identify the increments. Our approach is to put numbered marks on the side of the disk as shown in the picture. Since you already have found the center on the top disk, creating the 18-degree marks is pretty simple with a protractor.


The final step is to attach a piece of white paper on the top of the plywood disk where you will be placing your products and put a measuring mark on the bottom plywood base. Now put your camera on, align it with the measuring mark on the bottom and the center of the rotation, then place your product on the table and you are good to go.

If you plan to work on 360 views often and rather prefer to use a specialized 360 photography machine with robotic control, check out our new 360 photography equipment store where we offer a variety of sturdy turntables built to simplify the process and save time. Also download our free 360 product viewer to package your images in a few simple steps and publish it on your website with hot-spots, zoom, full-screen, and more! Download HERE.

Happy 360 Product Photography!

 

UPDATE (May 17th, 2011) - we have a new article (a guest post by TINYenormous) on how to extend this design even further and build a fully automated rig! You can read it HERE.

UPDATE (October 25th, 2012) - find more helpful tips in Part I of Mastering 360 Product Photography on PhotoGear360.com.


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PayPal to our clients: the credit card you entered cannot be used for this payment..

by WebRotate 360 June 03, 2010 14:05

 We love PayPal. It gives us great flexibility, low transaction fees, truly global coverage, and many other great goodies. Though we have been struggling with the service in the last few months. Some of our customers have experienced odd issues when submitting credit card payments for our 360 product views without signing into PayPal. Regardless of the type of credit card they used, PayPal would always come back with an error, saying "The credit card you entered cannot be used for this payment. Please enter a different credit card number". This is pretty embarrassing when you can not accept a payment from your client, especially after the frustration of going back and forth on e-mail/phone trying to resolve the issue together. The problem here is that PayPal wouldn't really specify why this can happen...

It appears that this is a pretty well known PayPal glitch. Based on the article here, there are several possible causes:

  • Credit card is linked or associated with an existing PayPal account
  • Credit card was previously used with a PayPal account or assigned to a closed PayPal account
  • PayPal has a limit on non-member credit card usage
  • Credit card or email address raised a red flag during transaction
  • Leftover PayPal browser cookie on user machine

Unfortunately we couldn't really find a reliable solution and that prompted us to sign-up with a dedicated credit card processing service (2Checkout), which is now offered on our customer invoices in addition to PayPal. Yes, it has higher transaction fees, though the piece of mind it gives to our clients will definitely worth it.


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Excited About HTML 5?

by WebRotate 360 May 12, 2010 14:14

It is fascinating to see how HTML 5 buzz is spreading all over the Internet. Accelerated by Apple's decision to not support Flash on iPad, the news is now everywhere. Just follow HTML 5 keyword on Twitter and there will be no shortage of folks expressing their love to the new buzz word.

It is understandable that Scribd's CEO is "ditching" three years of Flash development in favor of HTML 5, but to say across the board that HTML5/CSS3 + JavaScript is a good replacement for Flash or Silverlight is absurd. Playing video is one thing and HTML 5 with appropriate browser support can probably compete there, though when it comes to anything a bit more complex than rendering text and changing button colors, the mix of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is an unfortunate choice. Lets face it, HTML/CSS was created to output static textual content and images. JavaScript, a Netscape by-product, was broadly adopted later to provide for the lack of interactivity via browsers' crippled and buggy DOM interfaces. Since then it seems that the greatest invention was jQuery that gave us a simplified interface for DOM manipulations and XMLHttpRequest that provided some means for asynchronous processing. Now there is canvas and the ability to draw lines and have pixel access... Not too shabby.

Adobe's Flash/Flex/AS3 is light years ahead. Here is just a few thoughts that come to mind:

  • Strongly typed ActionScript language
  • Truly object oriented with real classes and inheritance
  • Compile time error/type checking
  • Robust security model
  • Exceptions
  • Modular (packages, libraries, components)
  • Compiles into binary packages
  • Rich event architecture
  • Native XML support
  • Clear code/presentation separation (not talking about frame scripts here)
  • World class design and development tools with profound integration
  • Slew of multipurpose libraries

Silverlight is even further ahead with mature C# language, feature rich .NET platform/FCL, multi-threading, real debugger, and best development tools.

Who is to say that these RIA technologies are closed or proprietary? They are as closed as Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, etc., all of which have their own proprietary take on how to interpret HTML/CSS specifications, DOM, and the rest of the "modern" hotchpotch of open web standards.

We at WebRotate 360 are affected by Apple's decision to stop supporting Flash on their mobile devices.
360 product photography aside, all of our 360 product views and other rich media components are done in Flash. It makes perfect sense for us and few thousand of other companies who want superior technology for client-side web development. Yes, absolute majority of browsers out there does support Flash. More so, its adoption will be expanding rapidly thanks to the new Flash plug-in that will be coming soon to the Android devices. Still, we and our clients now have to adjust to the growing issue of compatibility.

On the bright side, our new rich media solution has been designed with the goal of addressing this and many other problems that e-commerce companies are facing today.


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Adobe: 200% increase for 360 product views in 2010

by WebRotate 360 April 03, 2010 19:52

Adobe has released another excellent survey of their Scene7 customers. For those of you who are not familiar with Scene7, it's a great tool or rather a service by Adobe that helps companies incorporate and manage rich media content on their websites. Serving big clients such as Sears and Macy's their price entry is steep with an yearly charge of 30-40K for publishing and managing rich media catalogs online.

The survey was conducted from November 9, 2009 to January 15, 2010. It covers a variety of industries across major markets: North America, Asia-Pacific, Western/Eastern Europe, Middle East , Africa, and Latin America. It's a 60 page document that goes into pretty good details evaluating how different industries/markets plan to adopt latest trends in digital media in 2010 with a primary focus on Interactive Rich Media, Social Media, Mobile Features and Personalization. Total of 546 companies have provided their feedback.

Here's what we found most interesting:

  • Current adoption of 360-degree product views is still very low. Only 7% of all responders have adopted this feature. Though, unsurprisingly, its planned adoption growth in 2010 is highest across all 21 rich media features evaluated. 22% of all responders plan to adopt 360 product images in 2010. This is a 200% increase! Combined with 3-D visualization that shows second fastest growing adoption rate (9% adopted vs 23% planned) and product tours (13% adopted vs 23% planed) we think we have a busy year ahead of us. To give you a comparison point, well established functionality such as Quick Looks/Rollover views and Alternative Images show marginal adoption growth with 20% adopted vs 21% planned and 17% adopted vs 18% planned respectively.
  • Product tours (combinations of guided spin, zoom imagery, videos or animations with copy) is ranked highest in effectiveness across all rated rich media features.
  • 27% more responders said that 360 product spin is a most effective feature to drive conversion/sales comparing to similar survey last year.
  • 70% of survey participants in North America have less that 10 million in annual sales with quarter of all responders being interactive/advertising agencies.

It's great to see companies embracing interactive rich media, and while e-commerce is still in its infancy (Forrester research says only 8% of all sales will be done online in 2014), the trend is clear and this survey only reassures that we are on the right track.

You can request a full copy of the survey here.


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Best Time to Get 360'd is Now!

by WebRotate 360 March 05, 2010 15:39

E-commerce is embracing rich media with unprecedented pace. Did you hear about Zappos' new idea to use augmented reality in product videos or 2009's E-commerce Innovation winner GlassesDirect with their 3D video mirror? Though cool, these technologies are still in their infancy and may not work well for everybody or even for Zappos or GlassesDirect. 360 product views that we create at WebRotate 360 have proven to quickly bring value to our customers. Read more »

Today is the best time to follow this growing trend and get 360'd with us. Here's why...


Free Hosting of Your Rich Media


While larger companies have their own "dedicated" servers, smaller folks rely on shared hosting which may not have sufficient bandwidth to deliver additional media smoothly. Hosting companies also charge an extra fee for additional disk space and bandwidth required to support "heavier" rich media such as 360 product views.

To address this issue we are now offering free hosting and maintenance of rich media for any clients receiving less than 10,000 product views per month.

 

Free Website Integration


We've come to realize that the technical integration of 360 views is perceived as a barrier. It's actually quite straightforward but with our new hosting service it's even easier. Now it's just a matter of pasting some code onto the web page and we're helping clients with that as well.


Free Hot-spot with Any Order


Have you seen our latest 360 viewers with animated hot-spots? If not, check out our updated online 360 viewer tour samples or click the links below to see some cool pre-production samples we're developing for our clients:  

 

[June 8th, 12 - these samples have been removed as part of our new website deployment. You can find our latest samples here]


Today we offer a free hot-spot of your choice that we will place on each of your product views free of charge!


Free Service Test


Do you have 20 or more products that you wanted to convert into interactive 360 degree product views for your store but were hesitate to proceed for particular reason? If so, we have great news. Send us just one of your products to test-drive our service. If you don't like it, you keep the money.


Free 360 Viewer Template Customization


This has been a paid add-on for a while now. For a limited time only we offer free 360 Viewer customization to match your website styles (colors, fonts, gradients, etc).


Free High Resolution Images


At the end, all of our 360 product views are made of a series of product images. We capture these images with very high resolution and then edit them in their original size so we can produce best results possible. We thought you might like it if we share these images with you for free.


Free Return Shipping


No more need to provide us with return FedEx or UPS slips - we'll ship your products back to you free (some limitations apply).

 

Get a Quote Now!   or   Read what our clients say


Host your 360 degree product views for FREE

by WebRotate 360 February 04, 2010 00:52

We are constantly thinking about how we can bring more value to our clients. We've been listening to you too... Time has come for us to start offering free web hosting for your 360 degree product views. If you are one of our customers who doesn't get beyond 10000 views per month combined on their repository of 360 product views, we thought this is a good deal for you!

Our competition still charges monthly fees for disk space and bandwidth regardless and relies on their servers that are not geographically distributed or sometimes robust (we've been there too!). At WebRotate 360 we have made the leap though, and this is going to be part of our standard offer through February 2011.

This is one of many announcements we've been planning in 2010. Stand by for more good news!


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Two shows in 4 days

by WebRotate 360 January 14, 2010 10:03

Our team just finished a busy 4-day business trip. We attended both CES in Las Vegas and NRF's Big Show in NYC and boy, was it exhausting!

Quick summary:

  • We acquired many great friends from different companies in consumer electronics and e-commerce/retail.
  • Pretty much everybody whom we spoke to wanted to learn more about our 360 degree product imaging services and solutions.
  • Judging by the increasing number of people attending these shows in 2010, it's clear that the economy is getting back on track.

Lessons learned:

  • Our preparation for the shows was not great to say the least. WebRotate 360's brochure was done overnight, one day before leaving for Las Vegas. Luckily uprinting.com had a one-day service with an option for local pickup and guys there were pretty responsive to our needs. Next time we should plan better.
  • NRF's show was a bit out of our league targeting primarily large brick and mortar businesses. Lots of POS hardware and Oracle/MS types selling their multi-tier e-commerce solutions. It was still pretty interesting to see what is going on in retail, how it's embracing the Internet, various social media aspects, authenticity, and the "green" theme. We really enjoyed the presentation by David Kepron (Retail Rescue: Seeking the Now) and were excited to see vendors like Placii (www.Placii.com) offering their immersive 3D solutions for virtual in-store experience, which at the end makes our efforts at WebRotate 360 increasingly more relevant to a larger audience.
  • Two shows in 4 days across two coasts is a bit of an overkill for our small and very busy team :-)

     

 


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360 Photography Samples - New Gallery

by WebRotate 360 January 02, 2010 20:45

Checkout our new gallery of production samples. It has an assortment of 360 degree product views that we produced for some of our recent customers, like these security cameras:

 

[June 8th, 12 - these samples have been removed as part of our new website deployment. You can find our latest samples here]  

 

These are just random samples - there have been hundreds of 360 product views we've produced for some of the clients on the list. 


Happy Holidays from the WebRotate 360 Team

by WebRotate 360 December 18, 2009 11:11

Happy Holidays from all of us at the WebRotate 360 Team!

In the Spotlight:

  • Are you attending Retail's BIG SHOW in NYC? We will be there. Just e-mail us if you would like to schedule an appointment.
  • We will be rolling out several exciting product imaging services in 2010. Let's stay connected! Follow us on Twitter
  • We are now offering full 3D product view modeling service for large products that can't be sent to our studio or photographed locally.

We're looking forward to hearing from you soon!

 

Sincerely,
WebRotate 360 Team


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About this Blog

WebRotate 360 are specialists in interactive e-commerce solutions, web and software development for Internet retailers, product manufacturers, and marketing agencies.

We're a team of great individuals who bring our commitment, passion and skills to help you showcase your products online.


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