My short recipe for making pictures for a fullsphere panorama with the DJI Phantom quadcopter

Hi everybody,

as usually, sorry for my English, as it is not my native language.

Here I am just going to share my workflow for making a full sphere panoramic picture (a 360º photo) using my quadcopter, a DJI Phanton, with a gopro hero 3.

I don’t have a gimbal. Until now I am using the water case that came with the gopro fixed in the standard support that came with the Phantom.

Another good advise is that a fullshpere panoramic picture can get complex itself, mainly for the ones that never did one, so, if this is your case, you better try to make one made with a more stable support than a quadcopter. You can read this other article I have published before. Notice that without rotating using the axis that passes through the NPP (no parallax point) one can have a lot of parallax errors. Here an equipment that can minimize this problem. Even without it, if you can put the gopro in the vertical and fix it closer to the center of the Phantom it will help.

  1. As a first step I put the gopro looking at 45º down
  2. Set it up to make timelapse with one picture at each 2 seconds and made it start them – this will make many useless pictures, but ok
  3. Flight till the desired point and counted until 3, trying to count 3 seconds
  4. Rotated 45º and counted again until 3, repeating it until finish an horizontal line of pictures
    • With the camera in the horizontal position and depending on the scene I do another horizontal line of pictures with the camera looking to the horizon (0º)
    • If the Phantom flies high enough and there is no object at the same high of it, this will probably not be necessary
    • When I have to do this I put the Phantom down, move the camera and put it up again. This usually generates a lot of parallax problems.
  5. After all (could have been before) I took a picture of the sky from the ground, to stitch with the aerial ones

Here are two examples made using this workflow

Notes:

  • This kind of shooting can result in a lot of parallax problems that usually can only be removed in a post processing editor like GIMP or other advanced image editor that has tools like clone, healing, different selection tools, rotate selection, move selection, feather selection and maybe a little more features. Here some tips on removing parallax errors in post editing with GIMP.
  • As the gopro doesn’t have manual exposition, color difference can also appear between images. Usually the stitching software will be able to deal with it, but if doesn’t you can also correct it in an advanced image editor. Feather selections is a key feature for that. I have made a video tutorial here, but unfortunately it is also in Portuguese.

 

8 thoughts on “My short recipe for making pictures for a fullsphere panorama with the DJI Phantom quadcopter

  1. Hello! I need help finding a solution for viewing the 360 photos on my website! How can i doo this?

    Best Regards
    Marcus

    • Hi Marcus, this is a very wide question and would need a very big answer to be aswered completely. I can give you some directions, ok? I use a software to publish panoramas. Some possible softwares are listed here in the blog, at the references page (Reference links). I’ve been using krpano, to which you give an equirectangular stitched panorama. It then gives you a folder that you can upload to your site. At your pages you can put a thumbnail pointing to the index of that folder. Other softwares could be used the same way, like Panotour Pro, Pano2VR, Salado Player, #VR5 and so. You can also publish in sites like 360cities and equivalent ones, to where you upload your pano then you put a link on your site to the published page on the other site.

      Cheers, Cartola.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I also started making some aerials lately. I had the time lapse set to one image per 5 sec, but this will produce images with different exposure and white balance! Had to correct them afterwards! Anyway smartblend worked wonders on this and corrected the final equirectangular image! I read in a site ( don’t remember where) that setting the time lapse to 1 image every 2sec will keep exposure and white balance the same as the first image! Was that the case with you?

    • Hi George,
      I don’t really know that, but maybe it is truth. I must say that the choice for 2sec has been aleatory. I just thought about a reasonable minimal time to be stopped and the time to turn the quadcopter. Besides this, now that you’ve mentioned that I can also tell you that I thought I would have more problems with it than I had, that’s why I said that maybe it is truth. What I can say is that I didn’t do any special white balance treatment in any of the aerial pics I’ve stitched and many times I don’t use the photometric optimization in Hugin, which would be a way to treat that.

      If you confirm that maybe you can let a message here for us to share it. If I have the time to test it I will post it here.

      Tks for your comment!

  3. Cartola, this is one of the most creative applications of the Phantom I have come across … and I have come across a LOT. The advice on post production is also very helpful. Please consider joining us at the DJI Phantom Forum where users can share advice and techniques of using the Phantom http://djiphantomforum.net/

    • Hi DJIPF!

      Thank you for your comment and invitation! I’ll take a look at the forum you mentioned, but also feel free to share the informations shown here with people there and everywhere you want.

      Bests!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I’d love to start taking aerial panos like you!!! What software are you using to stitch? To clone/heal/feather, etc.?

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your comment. The softwares I use are mentioned in the article linked at “this other article I have published before” in the text. Also in each panorama post in the blog there is a technical datasheet mentioning how the pano was made, equipment used and software. There are more posts in Portuguese, my native language, but even in those I guess it will be easy to identify those things.
      There is also a video tutorial showing part of the job, aftee stitching, have seen?

      Bests, Cartola.

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