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  • Meet PixRiot, Our New Digital Asset Management Solution For Business

    Photo by panumas nikhomkhai

    Today, after nearly two years of development, we're happy to offer our new service, PixRiot. It's designed to help our users who need a reliable online platform for the efficient management and fast delivery of their digital assets worldwide. It's built using the latest technology and relies on the best network of servers around the world to provide unmatched reliability and access speeds.

    To show how simple it is to use PixRiot, let's review a workflow one would use to host and deliver their published WebRotate 360 assets (both interactive 360 product views and animated GIF videos are supported).

    1) Download and install the latest WebRotate 360 publishing software (v3.6.4 beta; please request commercial version of v3.6.4 beta here if you have purchased it before) and publish your 360 product images as usual in SpotEditor. Make sure the "Compatible with pixriot.com" check-box is checked on the Publish form and remember to re-publish any existing SpotEditor projects that you plan to upload to PixRiot.

    2) Login at pixriot.com using account details you have received from us via email. Until our automatic sign-up is available, you can request your free PixRiot account here.

    3) Create a new folder using the New Folder button in PixRiot's assets toolbar as needed. The folders are designed to help you organize and manage your assets in a variety of ways. For example, you may create a folder per a website or a client project you manage or per a product category.

    Each PixRiot folder can store any number of assets or sub-folders.

    4) To upload a single 360 product view, navigate inside the new PixRiot folder in your browser and then drag a single folder you see under published/360_assets/ of your SpotEditor project (i.e Your-Project-Name) to the PixRiot folder you just created.

    To upload multiple 360 product views at once, publish several SpotEditor projects to the same folder on your computer, navigate inside 360_assets of that folder and then drag all project folders you see there to your PixRiot folder at once. Alternatively you can rename 360_assets to something else as needed and drag just the renamed folder.

    Uploaded assets are made public by default. To change access to private, i.e not accessible outside of your PixRiot account, click on the green "public" indicator. Note that the public assets you may have shared with someone before changing access to private may be cached on the Internet and will remain accessible until cache expiration.

    For a quick preview of the uploaded 360 product view, click on the "expand" button which is the first icon at the end of the asset panel.

    5) Use the "globe" icon located at the end of the asset panel to share the upload. Config URL can be used with various CMS plugins that you can download here or our APIs. All WebRotate 360 plugins and APIs have a field or a property called either config, Config File URL or 360 View Path and this is where you can paste the URL.

    If not using our plugins or APIs, select iFrame tab to copy a generic iFrame embed code which should work anywhere you can insert a shared YouTube video or a similar embed code.

    To request your free PixRiot account, contact us via Support request form here or call us directly on +1 (800) 996-8617. You can use your free account for up to 500 MB of uploaded data (roughly 35 webrotate 360 product views) and 2 GB of monthly traffic.

    PixRiot Business plans starting at $22/month are available upon request.

  • Infinity Cove Studio for 360 Degree Car Photography

    It's not very often that we get a chance to see our users getting involved in massive 360 product photography projects like the one we discussed today with Jose Carlos Ramalho of ZAER Imagens Aereas located in Joinville, Southern Brazil. To see examples of his studio work, including 360 views of cars that were shot in the cove, head out to ZAER's impressive portfolio page.

    Here's a brief summary of what Jose had to share:

    What would you like to tell us about your business?

    We started ZAER Imagens Aereas in 2014 with the goal to provide our clients with high quality still and interactive real estate photography (received Google Trust Agency Certification a couple of years ago). We have been expanding our services into aerial imaging, interactive 360 car views and small 360 product photography.

    What were the high-level requirements for the 360 car photography project?

    In August of last year we were contacted by one of our clients to advise on building a car photography studio with very specific requirements. The idea was to photograph exterior and interior of vehicles in 360 degrees. The client wanted to be able to photograph vehicles of various sizes from compact cars to pickup trucks. They had some space of about 8x8 meters and 4 meters high that we could use to spin and shoot a car.

    How long did it take to build the infinite cove studio?

    All in all it took about nine months from the moment we were contacted by the client to the final hand-over. We did a lots of research and testing before starting on the construction. By the way, the studio was built on client's premises so we also did all the knowledge transfer for their operations team to be able to shoot cars in 360 on their own. It was quite an experience! I have been in photography business for the 30 years and shot a few 360 product views but there was still quite a lot to learn on this project.

    Was the turntable custom-designed for this project?

    Yes, it was designed for this specific studio and was built by a contractor. To give you an idea, the turntable is 4500mm in diameter and can safely withstand up to 4 tons of load. It's designed to stop at 10-degree increments and trigger the camera after 3 seconds of each stop.

    Anything you can tell us about your photo equipment for this project?

    It's relatively low-key.. here's the list of the main components:

    • Sony a6000 for both interior and external photography
    • Sony 16-50mm for exterior and Samyang 7.5mm fisheye for interior
    • Customized horizontal arm to allow centering the camera between the front seats
    • Automated rotor for spinning the arm at 90-degree increments inside a car
    • Studio lighting has forty LED tube bulbs 2400mm / 6000K that are installed about one meter above the diffuser tent made of nylon fabric .
    How fast can you shoot a 360 view of a car and how many images per spin do you use?

    For exterior its 36 images total and we can shoot a car in under 8 minutes.

    Anything else you can tell us about the camera and workflow for the interior views?

    So as I said it's the same camera we use for the interior shorts which is Sony a6000. The lens is Samyang 7.5mm with Nodal Ninja adapter plus the rotor that is controlled from an app. The system shoots four images in RAW at 90 degrees intervals with the bracketing set at -2, 0, +2. The images are then downloaded using Adobe LightRoom where they are reviewed and exported in TIFF. We use PTGui Pro to transform the images into an equirectangular spherical image which we then transfer to Photoshop for small fixes and touch-up. The last step is publishing an interactive 360 interior view using Panotour Pro.

    Many thanks to WebRotate 360 for also being part of this project!

  • Using WebRotate 360 Product Views Offline on iPad

    One question we often hear is how to use WebRotate 360 product views offline on iPad devices. Apple iPads are historically difficult when it comes to storing and viewing content that was created externally. Not to mention presenting dynamic content such as our 360 product spins that usually require a full-fledged web browser.

    Luckily, there're excellent solutions for iOS that solve this issue and we will show here how to use one such app.

    Kiosk Pro is an app by Kiosk Group located in Frederick, Maryland, USA and it's one of a few options they offer to help sharing digital content and interactive experiences using kiosk style devices.

    To use use Kiosk Pro offline you will need their Basic version which at the time of writing is listed at $24.99. With this in mind lets follow this step by step guide to run a simple presentation offline with a single 360 product view that will take the entire screen of an iPad:

    1. Install Kiosk Pro Basic on your iPad.

    2. Publish a 360 product view or a multi-row 3D product view in WebRotate SpotEditor using the Mobile full-page template that you can select on the Publish form via the Template drop-down.

    3. Connect the iPad to your Mac and start iTunes. Expand File Sharing -> Apps -> Kiosk Pro Basic under connected device.

    4. Navigate to the published folder of your SpotEditor project in Finder and drag all files and folders from the published folder to iTunes under Kiosk Pro Basic Documents. Note the name of the template .html file which is the only html file in the published folder that you have just uploaded to your iPad (i.e KioskTest.html as per the following screenshot).

    5. Start Kiosk Pro and enter the name of the html file under Content -> Homepage as this will be the entry point of the presentation for this exercise. Or you can select Content -> Local File Directory and pick the html file there directly.

    6. Now you are ready to start the published 360 product view as an offline presentation by simply selecting "Run Kiosk Presentation" in the top left corner of the Kiosk Pro app and here's how it looks like using their default settings.

    There're various settings in the kiosk app to help fine-tuning your offline (and online!) presentations. For example, you can use Custom Links to implement some navigation between multiple views or other product pages.

    And if you have some basic html knowledge, you may combine multiple WebRotate 360 Product Views into a landing gallery or a catalog of your inventory that your "kiosk" users can explore offline.

  • Heavy Duty 360 Product Photography Setup and Workflow by Utah Trikes

    Utah Trikes (www.UtahTrikes.com) is the nation's leading retailer of recumbent trikes, and it's no wonder. With the ability to offer unparalleled customization, people from all over the USA get their trikes built and shipped from this shop in Payson, Utah to their homes.

    "Because we ship so many customized trikes out to our customers it is important that they are setup exactly how they want prior to shipping," - says Ashley Guy, president of Utah Trikes.

    "Years ago, we implemented the procedure of taking a photo shoot of each trike once completed to send to our customers. This allows them to see and approve exactly the trike they're getting before shipping. We also put the gallery of the more customized trikes on our website which doubles as marketing and helps others see what options are available."

    As the list of customization options has grown it has become important to send more and more pictures showing all the details. The folks at Utah Trikes decided that sending their customers a 360 product view of their trikes was the way to go. The easy part was choosing WebRotate 360, but they knew it was going to to take a pretty big commitment if they were going to do this for every trike they build.

    "Automation is key here," - said Guy, "in order to make this viable we need to get the process down to about 30 minutes from beginning the photo shoot to being live on the web."

    Utah Trikes couldn't find a ready made solution that worked for them so they decided to build their own. Of course, it helps when you have your own fabrication facility. The UTCustom Skunkworks built a platform stage from aluminum tubing, with a turntable measuring 8ft in diameter.

    The turntable is supported by 32 4 inch caster wheels and driven by a crazy combination of sprockets that could only come from a bike shop. The final gear reduction is 360:1 and powered by a motor. Flip the switch and the turntable revolves at a consistent 1 revolution per 195 seconds.

    The whole turntable with stage measures 12ft wide by 18ft deep. There's even an additional drop-down canvas backdrop which extends the width for shooting longer trikes like the 10.5ft-long UTCustom Tandem. The entire top surface is covered in white melamine including a curved backdrop that gently curves to the ceiling. The melamine surface is nearly perfect as it reflects a lot of light without producing shiny highlights on camera.

    Lighting of course is one of the most important considerations. Because they need repeatable results every time, getting the lighting perfected was critical. To light it all, they use six 250W 30,000 Lumen LED fixtures, one 90W 12,000 Lumen LED fixture, and three smaller LED panels all with custom adjustable mounts they made themselves. This is in addition to the fluorescent house lights. All lights are 5000K. Needless to say, there is a lot of light. About half of the lights are aimed at the background and table surface and the rest are pointed at the trike on the turntable.

    The camera used is a Nikon D850 with a 58mm prime lens. Focus is set manually to the center of the turntable and locked so it does not hunt during shoots. Aperture is set to F11 and shutter speed to 1/50. This puts ISO right about 125. This combination of camera and glass provides an incredibly sharp and detailed image. Images are captured in RAW format at 46MP.

    The table is turned on and as it rotates the camera is set to take pictures every 3 seconds using the intervalometer on the D850. The camera stops taking pictures after 65 pictures are taken and the trike has made a complete 360 spin.

    The RAW files are sent directly to a network drive and imported into Lightroom CC. Here you can see what the RAW files look like, which if you're not used to working with RAW images may not look good to you. The nice thing about this format though is the huge amount of color and light information which a jpeg will just throw away. 

    Here's the actual RAW file if anyone wants to play around with it: download

    With just a little bit of tweaking in Lightroom they end up with this as the finished result. Since the lighting is consistent the adjustments are nearly the same for every project. Once the settings are tweaked perfectly on one of the photos they are copied to all the photos from the batch. Finally, the crop is set and copied to the batch.

    Cropped and color corrected photos are exported as jpegs with 2000 pixel width and easily turned into a 360 product spin with WebRotate's SpotEditor. The finished project is then uploaded to the web server directly through the publish project tool.

    "So far the process averages about 35 minutes," - says Guy, "which is pretty close to our goal. I'm sure that with a bit more refinement we'll hit it. And, for now, we have amazing 360 product views of our trikes and our customers are loving them. In addition, we have super hi-res pictures of our trikes from 65 different angles to use as needed."

    Check out the final page from the sample pictures given here:

    http://www.utahtrikes.com/RECENTTRIKE-5201950_CatrikeDumontFullSuspensionFoldi.html

    So, what's next for Utah Trikes?

    "Well, I'm really intrigued by the multi-row capabilities of WebRotate 360 and we are already working out ways to implement it in our process," - says Guy, "Maybe follow up with us in a couple months and you'll be able to ride a virtual trike on our website."

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