July 16th, 2007
There are some that think that the work it takes to do 360s is not worth it and there are many that think having a 360 tour can set your real estate marketing apart from the crowd. I’ve done 360s for many years and make it a point to talk to buyers and sellers to see if they’ve seen the 360s and ask them what they think. I’ll have to say that not everyone appreciates 360s and some plain don’t like them.
On the positive side we sold one home a few years ago in a very fast market where some out of town buyers saw only the 360s and stills before signing a contract. They, saw the stills and knew I was making 360s and waited till I posted them to sign the deal. The first time they saw the physical house was at the inspection. This is the home. These 360s were done back when I was using only QuickTime. The buyers were moving from California to Issaquah and had made offers on and lost 6 different homes before this one. Their belongings were on a moving truck… they were clearly under unusual pressure.
This clearly is an unusual situation for a home sale yet we repeatedly rent our furnished rental based only on the 360s. This happens about 30% of the time. So, there is good evidence that the full screen 360s that I use are effective.
I believe that now that most of the real estate buying world has high speed internet access, large full screen 360s set the marketing apart much more than little tiny 360s. Notice the level of detail of a room that can be seen in a full screen 360. So much detail that it’s relatively difficult to control all the defects. Note you have to click on the X on the left-hand lower control bar to make this image go to full screen. This full screen 360 is done with Flash and demands that Flash version 9 be loaded on your machine to display the image. Flash 9 has new graphic features that make the display of full screen 360 spherical images practical. This chart shows that as of this date Flash 9 is installed on about 83% of machines so no download/install is required.
I’ve started to use only Flash for full screen real estate 360s. QuickTime is still some what smoother panning than the Immervision Flash Player that I use but not enough to risk have buyers needing to download and install Quicktime which is pretty big and ugly on Windows machines. Java is a pretty big download too and currently has about the same penetration as Flash 9.
The question that got me going on this post was about the 360 One VR which is a parabolic mirror that reflects a 360 image on one frame. This device is certainly quick and easy but the quality of the image it creates is low so you can’t easily make large 360 images. To me tiny little 360s were interesting 10 years ago but are yawners these days.
So how do you make full screen 360s? I have to apologize to those readers I’ve promised to finish my tutorial on how to shoot full screen 360s. I promise to finish it soon. To summarize briefly you need a fisheye lens and a panoramic head. The Nikon 10.5 is very popular (works on Canon too) or the Sigma 8mm is OK but not as high quality as the Nikon 10.5. The panoramic head allows you to take 3 to 6 shots rotated around the lenses aperture plane in a perfectly level swing so the stitching works well. The images are stitched together with stitching software (PTgui is may favorite) and then posted to the web with some HTML and player software.
The bottom line is that 360 VR is allot of work, requires added equipment and some practice to get it done right and quickly. The question is, is it worth the extra work and expense? It’s hard to tell for sure. Some buyers and sellers (usually the more geeky ones) think it’s fantastic while others don’t even get what its all about. I do it for all our listings mainly because I enjoy doing it and do it for other subjects than real estate… my non-real estate 360vr images are at www.fullscreen360.blogspot.com.