Tips to Create OmniDirectional Aerial Panoramas with a Drone

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It is actually a way for the people to interact with the panorama using their smartphone or mouse as if they are hovering in the air. This is so because they can rotate the image in all the directions in just the same way as they are browsing any typical website on the internet. Here is an image that you can try the interactive panorama thing on. You think it is astounding? Let’s get going then!

Capture a Stunning Landscape

Firstly, you need to capture lots of images of your landscape. Once you reach the desired location, capture 20 to 30 photographs with approximately 30% to 40% overlapping from one image to another. This will ensure that you do not have to break sweat while stitching the images together in post-production since the computer will have plenty of pixel data to correlate from image to image.

You can capture the photographs manually. Ensure that you have the grid overlay lines turned on so that the overlap can be tracked from image to image.

Here is a quick tip: Capture photographs in the same window of time so that the lighting is consistent from one photograph to another. Moreover, capture the images when there is no or very little wind blowing.

If this all sounds too complicated a procedure, get your hands on this application called as Litchi. It is an impressive app since it captures all the images required for a panorama automatically. It costs around $23. There are some other apps that you can check out to accomplish this task:

Capture Images Using Litchi

Open the app, take your drone into the air and switch the camera settings from auto to manual before capturing the photographs. The image can be taken by tapping the button just below the shutter button on the right hand side.

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Ensure that you comply with this step so that your exposure, ISO and shutter are consistent from one image to another. Once that has been configured, click on the Litchi logo in the top left corner and choose PANO.

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Then click the PANO settings button on the center-left of the screen. If you desire, you can adjust the way panorama is to be captured but I prefer to use the default configuration which is 3 rows and 8 photographs per row and I have achieved decent results.

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Now, click on Start at the bottom to start capturing all images.

Once the app has been started, the Litchi app takes over the drone’s camera; automatically yawing and pitching the gimbal in all directions to capture the entire landscape in 26 photographs.

It will take roughly 2 to 3 minutes for the images to be captured for the panorama.

Panorama Stitching Software (free and paid)

Here are some of the software that can be utilized for stitching all the images together.

Demander (free)

If you are marred by budgetary constraints, search for 360 degrees pano software or look for the web app titled Demander that lets you upload your images and allows you to view the panorama in an adjacent window.

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It does not incorporate some of the advanced features that I use but you can give it a go.

PTGui

PTGui is a great app since it makes it exceptionally easy to make complex panoramas really easy. But it is slightly expensive at $87. But considering other apps, it is still affordable. You can check the Free PTGui trial if you are interested.

Price, fast speed, intuitive interface and plenty of panorama stitching options are some of the reasons I went with PTGui. Having said that, you can also check out the following paid software for stitching photographs for your panorama:

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Stitching images with PTGui

Here are the three main steps for creating panoramas with PTGui:

  • Step 1: Open up PTGui and load in all the 26 images by simple drag and drop. You will then be enquired about the camera used to capture the images. Based on the camera used, the app will either load the information on the basis of EXIF data automatically or you can manually enter the data yourself. You may as well use the wide, normal or telephoto preset.

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  • Step 2: Next click on the Align Images option. PTGui analyzes all the images and looks for sections that match. The matching sections are automatically stitched together. Once done, click the Preview Tab to see a low-resolution version of your output panorama. As soon as the preview window comes to the fore, use your mouse to scour the panorama. While browsing the image, if you scroll all the way up, you will most probably see a big black hole in the sky that can be resolved in Adobe Photoshop using the Content Aware and/or clone stamp tools. Export out a .TIFF file using the export option so that all the panorama data is retained.

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  • Step 3: Once you are satisfied with the panorama, move over to Create Panorama and click set Optimum Size and Quality 95% to obtain a high resolution image panorama. Adjust the width and height settings and quality for a smaller sized file. For sharing to interactive social media platforms, select JPEG format. Finally, select the folder on your computer to which you want the output file to be saved and click Create Panorama. Once processing is done, upload it to Facebook and it will optimize it itself to be interactive in nature. Ensure, that you use the little edit icon in Facebook before you publish it so that you select the exact angle for the people to see first when the scroll to the post.

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Create a Webpage of Your Panorama

Another cool output option that PTGui grants you is the option to publish the panorama to a website so that people can view it other than Facebook. Just go to the top of the menu bar in PTGui and select Tools > Publish to Website. Drop the high resolution JPEG, select the quality and location where you want to save it.

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All your images will then be exported out by PTGui and an HTML file be generated. Simply upload the entire folder to the web server and the panorama is ready!

Final Verdict

We hope that you would have gained plenty of insight into creating an omnidirectional aerial panorama with your drone. If you have any queries, do not forget to share with us in the comments section below.

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