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!