Tucson 2010, Part 2

Welcome back to my coverage of the Pano Conference.

I mentioned in part 1 that 360cities.net is about to make their huge library accessible on the iPhone browser. It's currently in beta stage, and just not quite there yet.

Charles Armstrong: Remote Realities

The real potential of the iPhone is in native Apps.

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This is where Tour Wrist from Spark Labs comes in. It may not have as many panoramas as 360cities in the database (yet), but it presents them in super-slick way. It basically turns your iPhone in a window into the panorama. Using compass and accelerometer it tracks along with your motion and shows whatever you would see at the pictured location. It's also GPS-aware, with community ratings, linked tours, and all that jazz.

The killer feature is that you can even shoot, tag and upload your own panorama tours with this App. For that you just need a clip-on fisheye lens, and the App walks you through all the steps. They call this feature an "AmaTour", and while that obviously won't compare to professionally stitched panos, it's pretty cool for the casual shooter. And the best: Tour Wrist is free.

So, how do they make money then?

There are three pretty innovative revenue models.
  • Users can book hotels and flights associated with the pano locations, right within the app. That is handled through affiliate programs, and the revenue is shared 50/50 with the photographer.
  • People can order a custom VR Tour for their business, which is then commissioned to photographers in the area. So the app is your agent, in that case.
  • As professional VR photographer you can order a custom branded version of the program, which will make you shine in front of your clients.

Currently they are working on the iPad version, which is probably going to steal the show.

Mark Segal: Aerial Panoramas

Granted, that has nothing to do with HDR (again), but it's still pretty awesome:

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Mark Segal from SkyPan Internationl hangs a pano camera under the belly of an RC helicopter, and shoots gorgeous balcony views from not-yet-built skyscrapers. Or other places of interest like golf courses or event locations. If you're asking me, these people are just looking for any excuse to go wild with their heavy-duty electric copters. ;)

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Their pano copter features:
  • feet lift up with hydraulics
  • remotely controlled gimbal head
  • can carry 26 lbs
  • up to 400 feet

And it shoots images like these:

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Check out Skypan's Gallery or Mark Segal's website for more aerial eyecandy.

Mark knew some interesting stories about "Always keeping the copter in line-of-sight" and "Trying not to crash into waves on ocean fly-bys". With the new small HD cameras he also gets an live signal to a ground-based control monitor. That's your low-budget opening shot right there. Although I must admit that the footage on the website could greatly benefit from some good old-fashioned After Effects motion stabilizing.

If you're looking into getting your own RC helicam off the ground, Mark recommends checking out www.DraganFly.com!

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