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Spherical Panoramic Photography

Latest DVD from the Gnomon Workshop reviewed By Stephen Schleicher

Im a big fan of RealVizs Stitcher application that aids you in creating panoramic photos for the web, 3D environment, or just as a nice show piece for your wall.  While the Stitcher application is powerful and has many options for creating stunning work, the end result will be less than stellar if you dont know how to take a decent image to begin with.  In Spherical Panoramic Photography with Greg Downing, the Gnomon Workshop DVD walks you through everything you need to know.

Whether you are making an environment for your 3D world, creating a QuickTime VR of a house for sale, or simply wishing to create a museum quality piece of art for your office, you are going to need to stitch many single images together to create the end product.  Unfortunately, with the proliferation of cheap digital cameras and lack of clear information on how to capture your raw data, the end result for many users is disappointing. 

RealVizs Stitcher is a great program for solving many of these problems, but for a beginner the interface while user friendly is not always clear on what some of the features are used for.  The Gnomon Workshop DVD ?Spherical Panoramic Photography clears up many of these mysteries and by the end of the two disc DVD set will have you using Stitcher like a pro.

The DVD is taught by Greg Downing, who for years has specialized in image based 3D technologies.  With his work being displayed in national museums and art galleries, you know he understands photography.  His technical background comes from his development work at RealViz on Stitcher and ImageModeler, and it is clear by the end of the DVD set he knows this product inside and out.

This two disc DVD breaks down as follows:

Disc One
Introduction/Eagle Rock
Equipment Overview
Removing Parallax from Pan and Tilt
How Many Photos
Shooting a Panorama
Processing your Images before Stitching
Importing your Images
Moving Images
Stitching and Working Around Problems
Closing the Panorama
Tilted Rows and Caps

The first DVD walks you through everything you need to know to achieve a great looking panoramic shot.  The tips offered by Downing are direct and to the point and allow you to see the process from beginning to end.  I especially like the section on processing images before stitching as it should clear up many of the problems users have when stitching images together.

Disc Two
Stencil Tool
Repairing Light Fall Off for Skies
Defining the Horizon
Rendering Options
Rendering for QuickTime
Additional Rendering Formats
Custom Photoshop Layers
Changing Projections
Removing Lens Flare
Linear Movies from Panoramas
Panoramas from 3D Scenes

The second DVD takes you beyond the basics and shows you how to do utilize many of the advanced features in RealViz Stitcher.  As I have previously mentioned in my Stitcher reviews and tutorials, being able to use a stencil to repair problem areas or create hotspots for QuickTime VRs is a huge plus with this application and Downing shows you how to do this like a master.  More importantly, this second DVD gives you direction on what else you can do with your images besides creating neat art.  QuickTime VRs are discussed and the idea of building virtual sets is suggested as well as how to create panoramas from your 3D scene.

In addition to the lectures, the DVD also contains lecture notes for you to refer back to while you are working.  These notes are really more of an expanded outline of the chapters on the DVDs, and do give you some insight as to what you can expect from the lecture.  It would have been nice if these lecture notes broke down the process for the viewer, so they could refer to the provided notes in the future instead of their own writing or watching the DVDs again.  Then again, that is why there are many resources on the web (like this site) that provide tutorials and additional information on this application.

By the end of the five hour DVD set, I feel confident that a beginner will know all of the ins and outs of panoramic photography.  This information then sets you up for the related DVD training series Imaged Based Modeling: Essentials, which Ill review at a future date.

Overall, I am impressed with the training DVDs the Gnomon Workshop has put out.  As always they present clear detailed information without getting boring causing you to wish you had spent your money elsewhere.  This title is also well priced at $69.00 and I give it a Good Buy Recommendation for anyone looking to generate great panoramic images for their 3D, web, or video work.

For more information on the titles available from the Gnomon Workshop, visit their website at www.thegnomonworkshop.com.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

Related Keywords:realviz, stitcher, panoramic, gnomon workshop, dvd, greg downing

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