The technology used to create virtual reality tours (and the equipment needed to experience them) has improved dramatically over recent months and continues to be developed at a rapid pace. The resulting rise in virtual tourists presents the property, tourism and education sectors with enormous potential to attract and engage new audiences.
But what is the cost of producing a tour and will it pay for itself?
The answer depends on you are producing. From low budget photographs to broadcast quality tour productions, there's a solution for every scenario.
The simplest form of virtual view is a 360° photograph. These can be produced simply and cost effectively using a variety of equipment from a smartphone to specialist photograhy equipment. These panoramic photographs can be joined in a slideshow or in the case of Matterport technology, have selectable hotspots embedded within the photos that take you from one viewpoint to another. The advantage of photographs is that they are excellent quality resolution and cost effective. The disadvantage is that the end result is a sterile tour with no atmosphere. Photographic-based tours can be created from as little as £75, depending on the number of viewpoints captured.
Next up is video. Virtual video tours fall into two groups - consumer and professional. A selection of 360° consumer video cameras such as the Samsung Gear and Ricoh Theater are widely available and you can either purchase the kit yourself or hire one of the many videographers who will produce a tour for you. The advantage is that these cameras autostitch the video footage from each camera which reduces production time. The disadvantage is that the footage is stretched through a full 360° which makes the end result low resolution and blurred. These tours are ideal if you want to give a small number of people an idea of the layout. You can budget between £50 and £250 for a short video depending on the resources you need.
Professional 360° videos use 4K equipment with multiple lenses and the footage is stitched into a sphere in post production. The intricate work of creating seamless imagery has an average ratio of 5 hours post-production time to 1 hour filming, which pushes up the overall cost but the end result is broadcast quality. Sky's VR division has produced several TV programs like this. Organisations can budget £300 + VAT and expenses for a 30- second simple walkthrough, rising to an average of £1000-a-minute + VAT and expenses for a video with audio, effects and other post production work. Music, presenters, voiceovers, props, specialist equipment, translation and visual effects will also add to the budget.
Larger enterprises in the tourism, leisure and entertainment sector can opt for a series of interactive tours to showcase various areas, joined by a map/menu. Production can be scaled to create the most spectacular of tours.
When you are producing your tour, it's wise to make it as modular as possible so you can edit out and replace footage easily. This is especially useful if you are looking for a longer shelf life and want to make regular edits.
Will the investment pay off?
Virtual tours are interactive, more fun and engaging which means they'll keep the attention of your audience for longer. If you've thought carefully about bringing together your objectives with your audience expectations and created a quality asset that will last, then you have every chance of recovering your investment and creating great returns.
Contact us for further information or advice on the right tour for you.
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