• Price: 340

  • Company: Realviz

  • Pros: Creates photorealistic 3D walkthroughs of interiors or exteriors from panorama images or even 2D photos and sketches, with export to Web or 3D environments.

  • Cons: Works best on scenes with clean, simple shapes, such as rectangular rooms or buildings. Furniture, arches and anything curved can add a lot of complications.

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

VTour is a new program that allows you to construct 3D virtual environments with photorealistic textures, starting from a single photographic panorama. It’s available for Windows 2000 and XP, and a Mac OS X version will be released in the summer.

The application has many potential uses. It could create virtual walkthroughs of building interiors and exteriors, 3D simulations, or virtual-reality material for video game design. It could be useful in film and TV for the creation of virtual sets, too.

 border=0 />The concept is a simplification of RealViz ImageModeler, which calculates complex 3D models by matching points on objects photographed from several different angles. VTour lets you map objects in a single photograph onto polygonal 3D primitives. You then pin the mapped image in perspective.
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All surfaces are mapped using flat planes – there are no curves. Polygons can have planes at multiple angles, to simulate cylinders or spheroids. The realism of the photographic textures covers up many of the potential problems. You can import 3D objects created elsewhere, and apply textures from within the scene.
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Finished scenes can be exported as either an animated movie using QuickTime, or as an interactive application using 3D viewers such as Spi-V3D viewer (based on Shockwave) or Virtools Web Player. If you create a 3D environment, you can populate it with other 3D objects created elsewhere. 
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As you’re confined to a single original image, a 360-degree or spherical panorama is the best source image. This gives an all-round view to work with. RealViz’s Stitcher and Stitcher Express panorama creation programs can be bundled with VTour. These tools blend multiple photographs taken on a rotating tripod into a single ultra-wide angle image. VTour bundled with Stitcher costs £550, while VTour, Stitcher and StoryViz costs £1,040.
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VTour can import all types of panorama file: full sphere (360-x-180 degrees), cylindrical (360 degrees), cubical (six square images) and QTVR panoramas of all types. However, in some cases you may want to create a scene out of a painting or drawing. 
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This is certainly possible, though unless the perspective is perfect, the 3D models may be distorted. VTour can use EXIF lens information in 2D photographs to compensate for distortion. 
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