Taking 360 images is way easier with the new RC viewer. But, figuring out what to do with the image so you can see it is a serious PITA. I’ll give you HOW TO using Photoshop, which is pretty painless, and several other easy ways to make the image usable as a 360-image. The process works in most of the Adobe tools that allow you to access File Info.
First here is my first snapshot with the new viewer.
It kinda subtle (not), but you might notice this isn’t displaying as a 360-image. The problem is the metadata Flickr needs to know this is a 360 image. It is missing. The Lab is adding that part of the viewer code now. So, the latest version of the Linden 360-Viewer as I write this is version 220.127.116.116743. It stiches the image together for us. But, does not yet add the needed metadata.
With the proper metadata Flickr handles the image this way.
Oh…. Wait… what’s the difference? You have to click on the images and go to Flickr to see how Flickr displays them. Ugh. So, now I am missing the code my blog needs to show the image as a 360 image. Sheesh, I’ll get there. But, you can see some hidden difference in the images makes a difference.
There… this images displays as a 360-image. That was a pain to figure out. Click and drag. Then click the icon in the lower right of the image.
How to Do It…
Wow, there is a lot of stuff out there that does not work. It took some experimenting on my part. I see some 360-images on other sites that very nicely display with just the basic Flickr embed, the one you get from Flickr. But, not on my site. I think one of my plugins is messing it up. But, as you see rather than take time to fix it I just went around it. There is knowledge to be gained from my experience.
Creating the Right Metadata
The Lab is building the right metadata into the viewer. It just isn’t there yet. So, the information here will lose relevance for 360-images made with SL viewers at some point. But, if you make custom 360-images from your RL camera or higher quality images from within SL, beyond what the viewer will generate, you’ll need this information.
Equirectangular 360-images are a specific kind of image. It is possible to make other 360 and VR images. But, to work with the greatest number of devices and services the image needs a 2:1 aspect ratio, twice as wide as it is high. Meaning the image is 4096x2048px, which is the LARGE output buy the viewer. Other 2:1 ratio sizes work too, 2048×1024 which is the viewer’s medium output.
Some services limit the max 360-image size to 6000×3000. Not Flickr.
What size do you need?
It depends on the quality you want and on which device you want that quality. I’ll show the numbers using my computer screen as an example. My screen is a 1980×1024 display, 1k – the vertical dimension. If I want to see an image at its best, the image on screen needs to be 1980×1024.
With a 360-image I need 3 to 4 horizontal and 3± vertical full-screens of image. That’s about 6,000 to 8,000 pixels wide and 3,000± high.
For an image to work as a 360-image, it needs that 2:1 ratio. So, the Lab has decided to make 4096x2048px size the max generated by the viewer. Which is pretty good, not great. I would think, to promote SL as it looks on a computer screen they would have gone with 8192×4096. Bad marketing, reasonable engineering.
If you go to Flickr and look in the Equirectangular group, you’ll find numerous 360-images. Using my Gear VR to look at the images I find it is only the 4k+ images that look clear. The S8 maxes at a screen resolution of 2960×1440. (1.4k?) It has a higher resolution than my computer monitor. But, my computer monitor at 18” (45cm) from my eyes and the S8 screen 2” (5cm) from my eyes the computer monitor looks way better.
To get anywhere near the visual quality in VR headsets that we see on our monitors we need VR screens with way higher resolution than any available now.
But… Samsung sells TV’s and they have built up and down sizing image tech for that hardware that is awesome. They had to plan for Std. TV, HD, and UHD to all look good on their screens. I suspect that tech is in the S8. So, higher rez images look pretty good on the Gear VR. The 4096x2048px images look good too. But, there is some fuzziness. That 4096 size is the image size I’ve uploaded to Flickr. That isn’t what Flickr will show you, but I’ll get to that later.
The 4096 images start to be a bit fuzzy in Gear VR. The smaller images even more so. I plan to use 4096 as the minimum for anything I upload to Flickr or other services.
Taking the Shot
You can get the latest Project 360 Viewer here. It will install as a separate viewer. So, your Linden Viewer and third-party viewers are safe.
Take a snap shot as you normally would. In the snap shot panel, enable 360° Snapshot. When you click save the viewer goes to work capturing and piecing together the image. When you save to disk you get an image like my first image above. Flickr doesn’t see it as a 360-image.
More pages… links below.