• Price: 167

  • Company: Redbug Technologies

  • Pros: Easy to use, fairly affordable creator of virtual tours, displaying four-way photographs at each point, with hotspot options for URL links or more detailed views.

  • Cons: Nothing very serious: it can’t handle seamless panoramas, there’s no zooming within images, and no options for standard QuickTime MOV or Windows Media Viewer export.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Mapwing is an easy-to-use suite of programs for creating and viewing interactive photographic virtual tours. You can create 3D maps of anything from the rooms and corridors of an art gallery to the streets and buildings in a town.

Tours can be viewed through the free standalone Mapwing Viewer (for Mac OS X or Windows), or embedded in Web pages for use with the Mapwing Flash Viewer.

Tours are assembled in Mapwing Creator Pro. Unlike the more common panorama tour applications, this doesn’t require the use of special camera lenses or stitching software. Instead, you take four conventional landscape photographs at right angles, for an all-round impression of the scene.

You then enter your set of images into a Creator Pro project and link them to points on a navigation map, such as a custom map, a floorplan, or a scanned map. Using the viewers, users can click on arrow hotspots inside images to take you to the next viewpoint, or click on any point on the map pane. Each image can also be given hotspots links to Web pages, or to zoom into more detailed images – such as a painting on a gallery wall.

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Initially you just walk the route of your planned tour, pausing to snap sets of pics at each point of interest – ideally pointing North, South, East, and West so it’s easy to relate them to a map later on. 
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Once you create a new project in Creator Pro you are presented with four different windows. Assets shows you all image and map source files, Map displays the actual map, Viewer shows the current camera view, and Point Manager allows you to drag the four pics for each point. 
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You simply select the map file, start defining points on it, and drag sets of images into the Point Manager window for each one. You then create links between points on the map. That creates the basic outline of your tour. You can then start to refine it with hotspot links to other images or URLs. Finally, you export the project, with a choice of resolution and compression, formatted for the standalone or Flash viewer.
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Mapwing is good value and lets you set up sophisticated walkthroughs quickly and easily, with minimal investment in camera equipment.
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