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QuickTime is a cross-platform "operating system for media." It supports many formats of graphics, digital movies and sounds, as well as "new media" such as QTVR.
QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) is a photography-based VR, an "immersive" technology that is becoming more and more accessible to schools with the introduction of easy-to-use software. There are three types of QTVR media, Panorama movies, Object movies, and Scenes. Several software packages currently exist for the creation of QTVR on both Windows and Macintosh computers. Currently, more options exist for Macintosh computers. QTVR movies, however, play equally well on Power Macs and Windows 95/98/NT computers.
QTVR Panorama (Pano) movies are created by taking several overlapping still pictures from a tripod with a panning head. Special software is used to "stitch" the pictures together, fusing them into one seamless 360 degree picture. The "stitched" picture is then converted into a QuickTime VR Panorama. You interact with the panorama by placing the cursor within the pano, holding the mouse button down, and moving the cursor in the direction you wish to "look." You can also zoom in and out of the pano movie to examine different parts of the scene.
A Stitched Panorama
A QTVR Pano Movie (RossHall.mov 100K)
QTVR Object movies are created by placing an object on a turntable and taking a number of still pictures of the object as it is turned around on a turntable. The pictures are then used to make a linear movie and finally, a QTVR Object movie. When you put the mouse cursor over the movie, it is in the shape of an open hand. When you hold down the mouse button, the hand closes and you can turn the object in the direction you move the mouse, as if you had it in your hand and were examining it. You can zoom in on the object to look at it more closely, as well.
A QTVR Object Movie (QuilBask.mov 159K)
A QTVR Scene is a QTVR movie comprised of several QTVR Pano and/or Object movies, all tied together with hidden regions called "hot spots." QTVR Scenes can be very powerful, enabling you to navigate from panorama to panorama and virtually pick up objects inside the space. A QTVR Scene acts one stand alone movie, even though it contains several QTVR movies--it is "self-contained."
A QTVR Scene (EMallScene.mov 453K)
It is also possible to add hot spots to single QTVR panos and object movies. The hot spots can be associated with URLs when added to a web page. QTVR scenes can be simulated (that is, they are not self-contained) on a web page by using URL hot spots to launch pages with other QTVR movies.
Technical requirements for producing QTVR Media
Digital Images: Pictures for QTVR production may come from digital cameras, scanned pictures, video cameras, or Kodak PhotoCD (camera film processed on CD-ROM discs).
Computer: A Power Macintosh with at least 40 MB of RAM (recommended), or a fast Windows computer running Windows 95/98/NT.Software: Several choices exist currently. Most QTVR creation software is fairly easy to use.
QuickTime VR Authoring Studio: Apple's QTVR software. Has the most features for QTVR media. It is harder to use than the other tools listed below, but currently the only one that lets you build QTVR scenes. Since May 1999, VR Toolbox's VR SceneWorx has also enabled the creation of VR scenes as well. QTVR scenes enables one QTVR movie to contain several panoramas and objects linked together via "hot spots." (for more info, go to http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtvr/ ).
Roundaboutlogic Nodester and Widgetizer: Easy-to-use software for creating QTVR Panoramas and Objects. These two software programs were packaged together as Roundaboutlogic Duet. They support hot spot creation for WWW linking. Last year this was my choice for classroom use due to its ease-of-use and power. However, some of Roundaboutlogic's employees left the company for VR Toolbox. After a year of litigation, the courts decided in favor of VR Toolbox, taking the Roundaboutlogic software off the market. In a good-faith effort, VR Toolbox is offering tech support and special upgrade deals through August 15, 1999 for owners of the Roundaboutlogic software.
VR Toolbox's VR PanoWorx, VR ObjectWorx, and VR SceneWorx: Users of Roundaboutlogic Nodester and Widgetizer will recognize strong similarities to PanoWorx and ObjectWorx. They incorporate much of the same code. VR SceneWorx allows the creation of QTVR scenes. The software is available on both Macintosh and Windows, and currently the only QTVR software that enables the creation of hot spots and scenes on the Windows platform. VR Toolbox will soon offer an integrated package of these three products, VR Worx. Free demos and more info is available at the VR Toolbox web page.
Spin Panorama: Easy-to-use software for creating QTVR Panoramas. It does not support hotspot creation, but it is also a good choice for classroom use. The software comes in versions for both Windows and Macintosh. (for more info, go to http://www.pictureworks.com/)
Spin PhotoObject: Easy-to-use software for creating QTVR Objects. It does not support hotspot creation or more complex objects with vertical pan, but it's ease of use makes it appropriate for classroom use. Available for Macintosh and Windows.
PhotoVista: Another QTVR pano program. Also easy to use. Also outputs an alternative to QTVR pano files, called RealSpace VR. The Windows version will not export the panos as QTVR movies. See the LivePicture web page (www.livepicture.com) for more info.
Windows Software:VR Toobox: This company recently took over the rights to the Roundaboutlogic QTVR software and has been busy over the last year upgrading its software. VR Toolbox's ObjectWorx, PanoWorx, and SceneWorks brings QTVR media creation up to par with the software currently available only on Macintosh computers. For more information, see the VR Toolbox web site.
Spin Panorama: An easy-to-use program on the Windows side that will create QTVR Panoramas. It will not create hotspots.
Spin PhotoObject: Right now, the only program on the Windows side that will create QTVR Objects. It only creates single row, or single band, Objects (no vertical pan). (for more info on the Pictureworks' Spin products, go to http://www.pictureworks.com/)
Live Picture: This company offers an alternative to QTVR for photography based "immersive" technology. The company makes software that will create it's own version of VR panoramas (called RealVR) and objects, as well as highly zoomable, fast-loading web page photographs (Flashpix images). This technology seems to be limited to being web content, and it requires special web server software to deliver the content on the WWW. PhotoVista, the Windows pano tool made by this company will not output QTVR panoramas, but the Mac version of the same product does. (for more info, go to http://www.livepicture.com/)
Kaidan makes tripod pan heads especially designed for shooting QTVR panoramas, as well as object rigs for shooting QTVR objects. I have been recommending the Kaidan Kiwi+ for shooting QTVR panos. (For more info, see http://www.kaidan.com/)
Peace River Studios also makes tripod pan heads for shooting QTVR panos and object rigs. (For more info see http://www.peaceriverstudios.com/)
QuickTime 3.0 -- now, 4.0 Apple's "operating system for media." Versions for both Macintosh and Windows are available for free from Apple at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/. Note: QTVR is now in its second version. Earlier versions of QuickTime may not play QTVR version 2.x.
A Macintosh computer or Windows 95/98/NT computer. Works well on all Power Macs. Good performance on faster non-Power Mac computers such as Mac Quadra, Centris, Performa, LC 580. Acceptable performance on some Windows 3.1 computers.
MoviePlayer, that comes bundled with QuickTime 3.0 for playback of QTVR media. It is called QuickTime Player in the QuickTime 4.0 package.
Web browser with QuickTime 3.0 or 4.0 plug-in installed. Recent versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape will play QTVR media in Web pages. If the QuickTime installer does not do it for you, you may have to manually install the browser plug-in that comes with the QuickTime 3.0 or 4.0.
HyperStudio 3.2, one of the most popular educational software titles. HyperStudio 3.1 supported QTVR 1.0 movies; HyperStudio 3.2 extends the support to QTVR 2.0 movies. For more info, go to http://www.hyperstudio.com/ This web site has free updaters for HyperStudio 3.0 or newer.
Note: Other multimedia development tools, notably Macromedia Director, will also enable you to include QTVR media, but these tools are generally too high-end for K-12 education. Hyperstudio is used by grade school students all over the country.
The QuickTime Tools site: http://developer.apple.com/quicktime/ This is where you can download FREE software that extends the capabilities of QuickTime and QTVR, including QTVR Thumbnail, QTVR Flattener, QTVR Converter, Plug-in Helper, QTVR Edit Object and QTVR Make Panorama 2.
VRTools site: http://www.vrtools.com/ John Summer's site of excellent tools for correcting, enhancing and tweeking QTVR movies, conVRter and deliVRator.
Squamish Media Group: http://www.smgvr.com. These folks create software tools for enhancing your QTVR media. SoundsaVR enables you to add directional sound to a panorama. MapsaVR lets you add navigational maps to your panoramas with rotating arrows indicating which direction you are looking.
Helmut Dersch's Panotools: http://www.fh-furtwangen.de/~dersch Herr Dersch's FREE plug-in tools enable you to correct the optics of a given photograph in numerous ways. It has been especially handy for QTVR creators who need to correct for barrel distortion or fisheye lens distortion. The software also makes it possible to do panoramic stitiching. Plug-ins work with Photoshop, GraphicConverter, and Gimp (a Linux app).
Web Sites and a Book
The Apple QuickTime site: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/ The jumping off place for a great deal of authoritative information about QuickTime and QTVR. The main link to the QuickTime 3.0 downloads.
The Apple QTVR site: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtvr/ Apple's QTVR page. Has links to pages with QTVR media all over the world, plus links to QTVR tutorials. Where you can purchase Apple's QTVR Authoring Studio.
The Apple QTVR Mail List: http://www.lists.apple.com/quicktime-VR.html. This is where you register for Apple's QTVR public list. This is an ongoing discussion about QTVR by hundreds of QTVR artists all over the world. Apple's QTVR developers also participate.
The QuickTime Web Documentation: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/authoring/embed.html Documentation for the EMBED tag for displaying and utilizing QTVR on the Web. Includes info on how to use hotspots to launch WWW pages.
More QuickTime tutorials: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/authoring/tutorials.html A link page to numerous tutorials and documents about how to do cool things with Quicktime and QTVR.
Ken Turkowski's Web Page: http://www.worldserver.com/turk. Ken is one of the original QTVR programmers. His web site has some wonderful QTVR examples and links. It also offers some QTVR calculators that help you determine the QTVR lens parameters for a given camera and decide how many pictures to shoot with a given lens.
Outside the Lines: http://www.OutsideTheLines.com/ More valuable information on QTVR media creation and doing QTVR on a budget. Includes instructions on how to make your own QTVR tripod pan head from inexpensive materials.
The QuickTime VR Book, by Susan A. Kitchens. The only book on QTVR currently on the market. Published in 1998 by Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA. The book may be ordered directly from Peachpit Press or from Amazon.com.