Evolution of Pictures - or what does a 360 degree spheres has to do with sewing?I love photography.
As someone who uses a lot of digital technology and travels in virtual worlds, I work a lot on the monitor. A background image on my monitor therefore always has a special importance for me.
When I take a picture myself, I always ask myself the question
"Is this picture worth looking at 24 hours a day on my monitor?
This leads to the fact that you don't take hundreds of unnecessary pictures. Because not every picture is worth keeping. Or how many pictures have you accumulated on your phone that you only see when you scroll over them?
For example, I spent quite a while creating mobile phone pictures and also ran an Instagram channel with them, which didn't necessarily inspire many people, but very interesting ones.
For me, the appeal of photography is always to create a great result as a picture without expensive material or equipment. If possible, without any filters or other aids.
Photography - since its invention - has been a two-dimensional image (with an x-axis and a y-axis) of a three-dimensional world (x-axis, y-axis and z-axis).
It is not uncommon to see crooked trees or bending lampposts in a fisheye effect, which leads to quite amusing results.
These results sometimes lead to interesting challenges that photographers either have to solve or take advantage of.
The next development was panoramic images
In the early days of panorama photography, photographers began to stitch together many individual images to form one large overall picture. This process is called "stitching". This is a manual, laborious and very time-consuming process.
Software companies such as Adobe try to support or optimise the process with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Camera Raw, as the following example from Adobe shows very well:
The individual images at the top are single images. These are combined into one image below. The advantage of 2D photography:
The sun is usually in the same place and you can avoid disturbing reflections. This makes a picture much more harmonious. And the "stitching" is - with a little practice in handling - hardly or not at all noticeable.
Software in general reduces the effort tremendrous.
The Evoultion: When 2D is not sufficient
Photography is also developing further. With the discussion about the metaverse and the possibility of creating 360-degree images, the desire for virtual reality-capable image material has also grown.
To put it simply, a 360-degree image corresponds to many images arranged in a circle in all dimensions - so that when you rotate the image, you get the impression of the entire world around you.
So it is no longer just the image in front of you that is interesting, but also next to it, above it, and above all behind it.
We have tried to show this on our website with an interactive 360-degree sphere:
You can let the sphere represent an entire room, for example. Scroll into it, zoom out or scroll left and right.
360 degree images appear like a sphere in the centre of which you find yourself. If you were to place such a sphere in front of you, it would look like a "balloon" representing the respective image in spherical form.
In our digital office (https://framevr.io/my-verse), we also give the opportunity to see how such spheres can be used:
Stitching in 360 degree spheres -
It is not sewing - may or may not be or maybe it is...
As mentioned earlier with 2D photography, light also plays a major role in 3D photography.
New cameras such as the GoPro Hero Max or the even more powerful Ricoh Theta z1, which I like to use, have two lenses on opposite sides. Both lenses create one image from 2 seperate pictures with 180 degrees to each side.
The integrated software takes two shots and "stitches" them together. The result is a circular "seam" that can be compared to the "sewing" of fabric.
The challenge here is, that in contrast to 2D photography, there is ALWAYS a lens looking into the sun. This means a lot of work for the software because a "real physical" problem has to be solved.
If you have ever taken a picture into the sun, you will notice on the phone camera that it tries to darken the picture enormously. Otherwise everything would be completely faded.
The same thing happens when you take a picture in a darker area - the camera would try to lighten darker areas as well.
In 360 degree photography, the challenge is that one lens is usually shooting into the sun and the other lens is "shooting" into the darker area. It's a disastrous effort if you want to get it even halfway right manually, so that it becomes a "homogeneous" image and there are no sharp-edged shadows/bright areas. (Quite apart from the fact that with 360 degree pictures you always have to look for a place where you are not in the picture - but that's another story - and above all a big challenge :-) )
Modern cameras now solve this very well. However, you also have to use various tricks to reduce the "stitching seam" as much as possible. As I said - it's not a flaw but a physical issue that you have to avoid as much as possible. Sometimes, for example, it cannot be avoided:
The purple line shows how the "stitching seam" of the two lenses runs:
Along the line, the image becomes slightly blurred due to the very "fine background" of the leaves of the trees.
Physics cannot be ignored even in virtual space.
--> So it is not a flaw or Issue. It is physics.
How can visible stitching be avoided or circumvented?
If you don't want to spend more money on new equipment, you have to experiment a lot with the direction of the lenses.
However, this often has an effect on the lighting, sunlight, (lens) reflections and other disadvantages that you don't really want.
Turning a 360-degree camera with the lateral edges facing the sun, however, helps a lot here.
In our shop we have many pictures where you can't see any stitching edges at all, because we are already very experienced in photography with 360 degree cameras in the price segment between 600€ (Go Pro Max) and 1200€ (Ricoh Theta z1). Have a look on the previews.
"Seamless Stitching" can only be solved efficiently with "more lenses".
Tt can be significantly reduced with each additional lens on the camera.
This means that more "overlapping" single images are produced, which almost eliminates this effect.
However, more lenses also mean a significantly higher price, which can quickly cost several thousand euros or dollars. Here you can look at the "Insta Pro2" series starting at €4,700 or the "Insta360 Titan" at around €16,900. But these are already fully professional devices, that are intended for high professional 360-degree films. So you can see that something like this, quickly goes into other "spheres" in terms of price.
Our aim has always been to create good and affordable images. And especially in combination with the virtual worlds of the ever-growing "metaverse", VR glasses of all kinds need something that connects us with "reality", despite all their "artificiality".
360 degree spheres with images of reality achieve this and make the "artificial" world seem and experience much more credible.
I hope I was able to give you a first good insight into the world of 3D spheres.
Because beautiful & affordable 3D spheres especially for virtual reality Worlds are my passion.