Virtual Property Tours
I enjoy tech toys. My vacation rental properties have provided me the opportunity to invest in a few of these toys to which I try to put to a practical purpose. However, I'm also frugal and so I'm not the sort of person to invest in expensive solutions. And it isn't necessary as you will learn.
If you want to skip ahead (go ahead, be impatient), scroll to the bottom of this post to see an example 360 degree virtual tour I put together for my Water's Edge vacation home in Folly Beach, SC.
What You'll Need: To put together a 360 walk through you'll need a 360 degree camera, a tripod, microSD card, as well as publishing software that can handle 360 images. We will look at each of these components one-by-one.
360 Degree Camera: First things first, you need a 360 degree camera, sometimes referred to as a spherical camera. These cameras often take the form of a stick that has two camera lenses that are wide-angle 180 degree lenses, hence the 360 view. These cameras can take still images as well as video and captures 5.1-channel surround sound. You'll need a microSD card to store your images and video.
Take for example, my LG 360 Cam ($120). It doesn't matter whether you have an LG phone or not, it is supported on Android 5.0 (L OS) or later, and iOS 8 or later. And it is important to note that there are other 360 cameras on the market, like the Samsung Gear 360 ($85 - 2017 edition).
Want an even cheaper option still? Most smartphones have the ability to take panoramic images. I won't suggest that the end result is going to be as good, but you might start by experimenting with the settings of your phone.
Tripod: Most cameras have a mount on the bottom so you can attach it to a tripod. How I use the tripod is for me to mount the camera and then for me to hide some place so that I'm not in the image. The camera is connected to your phone via Bluetooth so you can snap the picture from a few yards away (such as behind a corner).
MicroSD Card: You'll need a microSD card to store images and video. You want a card that is rated to be able to handle faster data transfer speeds, needed for recording high definition video.
Here again, you don't have to break the bank. Samsung 32Gb MicroSD EVO can transfer 95Mb per second (U1) and costs just $7.99.
Publishing: The good news is that you can publish your 360 degree images and videos directly to programs like YouTube, Facebook, Google Street View without a lot of fuss. This is particularly handy for a few images. But if you want to make a video or create a walk through experience you'll want to step it up another level.
For 360 video, I use a program called Movavi 360 Video Editor. This is an easy-to-use video editor and I use a number of their editing programs. With the program you can import your 360 images and video, clip any unwanted segments from your timeline, add titles, transition effects and audio. Once you have created your masterpiece, you have a variety of options for publishing.
To create a walk through I use RoundMe. If you visit their website you will open up a world to tremendous possibilities. Be forewarned that the site is full of "eye candy" and you might find that you lose yourself in looking at 360 images of sites from all around the world.
What I like about it is the ability to insert information points within the 360 images to provide additional explanation that includes photos, text and links.
Enjoy this walk through of my Water's Edge townhome. And if you have interest in a service that puts together vacation rental guides, 360 tours, drone photography, I created MyRentalButler to serve vacation owners and property managers like ourselves.
Escape on a getaway to historic Charleston! Stay at our comfortable, well-appointed, and beautifully decorated town home on Folly and enjoy the best of both worlds - the relaxed beach atmosphere of Folly and the charm and culture of Charleston.