Composing Great Stories with Virtual Tours

I’m not much of a writer, but put a camera in my hand and I can tell a story. I’ve been creating virtual tours for about three years using RTV software. Over those three years I have learned alot about the art of creating a good 360 virtual tour.

In general, good photos result from careful attention to the basics of composition, together with appropriate lighting and an interesting subject. When I shoot a still image I always have a subject to focus on. I don’t just shoot a kitchen; I use rules to help me compose the image to make it pleasing to the eye. For example, I use the rule of thirds which is theory that the eye goes naturally to a point about two-thirds up the photo. Also, by visually dividing the image into thirds (either vertically or horizontally) you achieve balance.

I also use framing in a photograph. Framing is using something in the foreground that leads you into the picture or gives you a sense of where the viewer is. Such as a dining table partial in the photo leading to the main focus of the kitchen, but not distracting from this focus.

Another rule I use is to place the main subject off-center and balancing the “weight” with other objects which will be more pleasing than placing the subject in the center. Use composition to help you tell the story. A picture that is well composed, should be telling a story about the subject being shot. As, they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”!

So, how does this apply to the creation of virtual tours?

What many other tour builders do, and what I used to do, was stand in the middle of the room and photograph the real estate virtual tours from there. It may be an easy way to do it, but it is not the best. I now take a moment in each room to compose my panoramic, before snapping the first shot. I divide my panoramic into three scenes and I look for the most interesting thing or things in the room (artwork, fireplace, windows, appliances, a bouquet of flowers, furniture). I fill each part of the panoramic with at least one element. If a room is empty, this can be hard to do, so I might only do a particle panoramic and focus on filling the scene with a window, a stairway, an interesting architectural feature or a door lead out of the room. If possible, I’ll open up windows and capture something interesting outside. This will help me locate the best place to setup my tripod for my 360 virtual home tour.

I then decide how I’m going to enter this room from the previous scene using navigational hot-spots and where i will place the hot-spot to exit from this room. This gives me a starting point and saves me time when I layout my tours in the tour building software.

When I layout my tour, I think about how someone visiting the home would walk through it and try to layout my hot-spots, so they travel through the tour the same way. Once you start to do this on a regular basis, it only takes a quick scan and a moment more to shoot a tour. If you take the time to compose a tour, you’ll improve the way your tour tells the story. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a well done virtual tour can tell a great story.

See examples of my Phoenix Arizona virtual tours.

Rudy Gutierrez
OnView 360
Maricopa County Virtual Tours
Cal to order a tour: 602-885-5974