While I was looking for new ways to shoot in 360 and new creators platforms, I discovered this brand. And it was worth it.
What is that ? Who they are ? What does this brand offer?
iStaging is, primarily, a virtual tour hosting, but not a common one. In addition to creating normal virtual tours, it is possible to include triggers to abilitate interactions in the tour to make the tuor itself unique, giving it useful functions.
Here alongside, you can see an example of the customization. It was a test, but each photo of the tour can be customized at will. Tours can be made up of a single photo (as here on the side) or more photos. The maximum depends on the plan that you subscribe to.
There are different types of triggers that we can insert anywhere in the spherical photos
They are triggers used to move between panoramic photos and allow you to create the real virtual tour. By default there are 5 icons, including 4 arrows (which indicate different directions) and an icon with concentric circles. The size of the icons can not be changed and no rotation can be done.
Triggers that serve to redirect the visitor somewhere through a link.
the TAGs have a very broad personalization. The default icon is a tag, basically because it is designed to direct the visitor to an online store. But in addition to the icon, there is the Title, the description, a thumbnail (a square image is recommended and with a maximum size of 1MB), a price, the link and the button that must be pressed to open the link . The button can have the words "Buy now", "Learn more" or "View in AR". The link, of course, can be any.
Negative note: you can not customize the writing on the button, as in VeeR Experience.
Trigger that opens a note with a personalized message. Used to write some memo to remember, or, for example, a suggestion or a riddle for a VR treasure hunt (the limit is your own fantasy). The MEMO can contain a maximum of 300 characters.
Trigger that starts a video, for example from YouTube. When the trigger is activated, appears a window, whose size can be decided upon setting the video trigger. The dimensions can be chosen either as a percentage of the original, or deciding the pixels manually.
Unfortunately, at least for now, is missing a trigger that makes open a simple photo, or even a window (such as videos), but viewing a 360 ° photo.
But the feature that really made me appreciate iStaging, is the ability to customize the trigger icon. Of every trigger! So that it is a TAG, a VIDEO, a MEMO or a HOTSPOT, you can choose an image from the PC and load it instead of the default one.
And the possibility to insert so much information in the virtual tour through these triggers, gives the possibility to adapt the tour to any situation. A real estate sale, advertising of more gadgets or other products, a physical store that wants to make known the prices of his shop through a virtual tour, or who wants to start an online sale, or simply wants to show where his store is located on Maps .
The complete personalization of the triggers is a huge advantage for those who want to be free to express their imagination in a virtual tour.
The uniqueness of iStaging is that the brand provides everything needed to create the virtual tour. By doing to a subscription, you will receive a package containing a wide-angle lens for smartphones, a rotator and the virtual reality viewer.
Let's put the viewer aside and pay attention to the first two. With these objects, the smartphone and the iStaging app called VR Maker, you can create panoramic photos that can then be used within the virtual tour.
Put the lens on the camera, position the phone so that the camera is aligned with the center of the rotator and shoot using VR Maker.
With this method, in about 30 seconds, you have a 360 photo in 8K. Real 8K ! 8192x4096
And you do not need to do manual stitching or other operations because the app will think of everything by itself.
How are the photos?
They are good. Sincerely better than my expectations. Obviously occasionally some stitching errors happen, especially in small environments, but still the photos are very good. And there is also the possibility of HRD, which obviously takes more time to take pictures, but it guarantees more quality.
(These photos are taken using iStaging's VR Maker, a Galaxy S8 with the lens and the rotator. All automatic)
(The quality is reduced to 4K because it is not possible, at the moment, to save the photos with the original size, which is 8K)
Through the VR Maker mobile app it is possible to create only classic virtual tours. That is, it is not possible to insert triggers such as TAG, MEMO or VIDEO. Only HOTSPOTs can be inserted to switch between photos. And then, once the tour is over, you can share it on socials or on Google Street View.
But be careful, it will be possible to share it on GSV only if, before uploading, the photo contained the geotag.
I explain you.
iStaging allows you to create virtual tours even with existing photos, maybe taken with other cams, with a Reflex or an all-in-one, like the Gear360. You re not forced to use the rotator with the smartphone to take the pictures. But every photo uploaded must contain the geotag.
If, for example, you make changes with Photoshop, maybe to remove the tripod, to make color correction (even if the color correction can also be done through the VR Maker app), other changes, remember to add the geotag all inside the photos because otherwise it will not be possible to share them on GSV.
Obviously on other socials yes, because they do not need it.
Below I leave you the VR Maker tutorial to let you see the creation of a tour through the app.
The language is only Italian, without subtitles because for the tutorials I do not think they are necessary.
The creation of the tour can also be done through the PC, using the iStaging VR Editor in the browser. Here you can use all the trigger, with all possible customizations. There is also the possibility to add a description to the tour, put a background music (among the 10 proposed from iStaging), insert a custom logo and choose the color of the tour HUD.
Also you can save an image by choosing a frame of any spherical photo.
And finally, for those who have the Ultimate subscription, the browser editor gives the possibility to insert the floor plan for more convenience during the placement of the photos.
Below I leave the tutorial of VR Editor to show you the creation of a tour through the browser.
The language, as for the previous tutorial, is only Italian, without subtitles because for the tutorials I do not think they are necessary.
As I wrote a while ago, it is not necessary to use the smartphone to create panoramic photos because VR Maker app can be connected to the Theta V or Theta S cameras or the Panono camera.
Unfortunately, not having any of these cams, I can not tell you anything more about this feature.
And, in addition to these, you can import existing photos from the smartphone or PC memory.
So, how do you think about it ?
Personally I think that the service offered by iStaging is great. Especially for those who does tour creations as a primary job. The prices of iStaging are certainly not low, but the prices of virtual tours are not even. Besides the fact that being able to create an interactive virtual tour increases the price of the tour itself. And then by doing a virtual tour, in one day you can make the annual subscription to iStaging.
So the prices are, let's say, very balanced for the service it offers.
Here you have the price list (periodically there are discounts and promotions)
I really like the fact that iStaging gives everyone the chance to create their own virtual tour. No need to have the professional equipment, you do not need to have a thousand thousands euros camera because by making a simple subscription you can receive the rotator and for those who do not search the top of the top, for those who just want to show the own activity, maybe inviting the visitor to reach the physical activity, is really excellent. If you already have the professional equipment, you can shoot with that and then import everything.
And it's all very simple and a bonus, not to be underestimated, is that you can only use the smartphone to do all the work.
Which makes this platform very interesting.
Obviously nothing is perfect.
For photos taken with the smartphone and the lens, sometimes there are stitching errors, you can not edit the nadir and then remove the tripod through the software because it must be covered with the logo and the logo is inserted at the bottom that at the top, this is something that particularly bothered me. The fact of having to insert the geotag in the photos before uploading them and then sharing them on GSV, is quite annoying.
But these things are all improvable. And so in the future, I hope not very far, iStaging could update everything.
A very interesting feature is the ability to create the floor plan of the place where we are doing the virtual tour directly with the smartphone using Augmented Reality through the VR Maker app. Features that unfortunately, at the moment, is only available for iPhone.
Personally, iStaging is the brand, the most comfortable virtual tour hosting I've ever used because it gives a lot of features, it's very easy to work on it, it's one of the easiest platforms, and it's very accessible.
For those who want to see some more details, here is the video review (sub-ita + sub-eng)
I leave you some screenshots made during the creation of a virtual tour with both the VR Maker and the VR Editor.
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