Does anyone have any recommendation for virtual tour software?
The ultimate aim is to create virtual tours of areas within a school for a website i.e. easy to post items than can sit within HTML or a CMS.
Free would be fab, but there's a small budget to buy if something great is out there.
I have seen this done before as little 3D animation video clips. You could use something like 3D Studio Max for this, but even at student licencing prices this will not be cheap. I haven't touched 3D since my uni days, however I remember there were free similar packages out there that would allow you to do a bit of 3D modelling.
You could also do something similar using Unity, and allow the tours to be navigable by the visitor (almost like a game) but personally I would avoid this way of doing it. It is more complicated and generally speaking the user needs to install plugins to be able to use the tour.
I would look at doing them as little 3D clips and exporting them out as FLV or MP4's. However as I always say when it comes to things like this, you may be able to get the software for free to create the clips, but is your time free? In my experience there was never nothing quick about creating pretty accurate/realistic looking 3D! If you have a small budget, you could consider approaching a local uni who do 3D/Game design courses, and see if you can get a final year student who would be happy to undertake the task for you for basically some work experience/portfolio work and a small token payment.
We're trying to do something a little different than 3D modelling per se. We'd like to take multiple shots within a classroom or school area, and then stitch those together to create a 360 view of the room/area. Perhaps panoramas is a better description, but with a view to virtual tours if you see what I mean. This has jogged my memory, and I know that Microsoft's Photosynth does this. I'll go check! :)
I'm in the middle of creating our virtual tour too..
are you looking to create something like this:
Bells Farm Primary School and Children's Centre
Once the whole tour is complete I will have hotspots, so you can have a 'virtual wallk' around the whole school..
Yay an animated download it on to my tablet burglars map :)
A camara, a 360 Panoramic lens and some flash or shockwave script, or read this?
How To Get Started on 360° Panoramic Photography - 360Cities Help Center
You mean like these: (c) Ossett Academy 2012 - Virtual Tour ?
Panoramic photo + Panosalado (PanoSalado)
Flash dependant with no suitable JS alternatives that I could find when last I looked. They've been on our site for about 5 years, see very little traffic, and will in all likelihood be scrapped when we redesign later this year.
If heading down the 3D Animation route, Google Sketchup can do it for a total of zero pounds.
Personal opinion? Pay a pro-photographer to come in and do photoshoots of all areas you want to promote (obv after a thorough clean up)... and stick with a good old photo gallery. It'll look infinitely better than amateur shot panoramas, or Sketch'dup 3D.
Yep, like the examples above. This is a really good example where the tour is all contained within one item Eggar's School - Virtual Tour
This seems to have been created using Flash Panorama Player, but this doesn't appear to be the easiest thing to use (although I'm investigating). It also looks like the photos for the above were created with a panoramic camera, so perhaps done professionally.
I used the following equipment:
Cannon 550D DSLR
8mm Samyang Fisheye Lens
Nodal Ninja MK111 Panoramic Head
Kolor - Auto Pano Pro
Kolor - Auto PanoTour