Most people who have browsed Street View imagery on Google Maps are familiar with the process Google uses to create the imagery. On a very basic level, a car with a dozen or so cameras mounted to the roof drives on public roads taking pictures every hundred feet or so. The imagery is stitched together and added to the map.
When we create imagery for businesses, it doesn’t require a car; just a tripod, a DSLR camera, and a few special pieces of equipment.
When the Street View cars drive around, their pathways are exactly what the roads are. In businesses, our pathways need to follow a slightly different set of rules. When deciding where to take each panoramic photograph, there are a few rules to bear in mind.
Images should be visually and linearly connected
When moving from one image to the next, you should be able to both see the spot that you’ve just come from and not have anything blocking that pathway. Our goal is to create a walkthrough of your business. We aim to follow the general walking path that most customers would follow if they were physically present at your store. If people can’t move through walls, we can’t either.
Images should be between 5-15 feet apart
In order to create that walkthrough feel, images need to be reasonably close together. When this happens, there is enough similarity between images that the user gets the feeling of being in the space. There are exceptions to this rule when we can stretch the spacing to 30-50 feet, but these are few and far between. This spacing can disorient users and so it’s used very sparingly.
Take a look at the floor plan diagram of Marge’s Lakeside Inn. Each red dot represents a panoramic image. The black lines show the connection between the images. This particular Street View tour is completely linear, i.e. there are no branches or off-shoots of the main path.
Take a moment to look at their virtual tour on Google Maps. You can walk through the entire bar and all the way out to the dock and get a feel for the walking path and image spacing.
The business owner dictates how much of their business they’d like covered. Marge’s Lakeside Inn decided they’d like their entire space covered including the deck leading out to the beach in the back.
Panoramic images are 360° by 180°
As we create a Street View tour for a business, it is important to remember that each panoramic image is essentially a sphere. Users will be able to look around in a complete 360° as well as look straight up at the ceiling and straight down at the floor.
The imagery that we take is very high resolution, in fact each panorama is about 11,000×5,500 pixels!
While the imagery we take does show everything surrounding it, the most visible part of the environment is within about 10 feet from where we place the tripod. This means things beyond 10 feet are less noticeable.
In the virtual tour of Marge’s Lakeside Inn, it wasn’t necessary to place additional panoramas in each space because everything could be clearly seen from the walking path.