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:


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."