Panoramic CG Images

When I put up this website about two weeks ago I was thinking about taking a picture with a wide aspect ratio to have it as a cover picture. Now… since I am doing VFX work I decided to take a panoramic HDR Image of my hometown Duesseldorf in autumn and try to enhance it with some lines of a groundplane and have you – the audience – think about
what is actually possible when you have an HDRI Lighting Setup. Also… I thought it looked kinda fancy.

Stitching up an HDRI actually isn’t that big of a deal. But have you ever tried to render out a 180 or 360 degrees render from your 3D application? I never did… and it took me quite a while to figure out how I could achieve that look. First of all… there are some Camera-shaders out there. But they are for older versions of Maya and you have to compile them by yourself and people on the forums are complaining that they cannot get it working. Besides… I am on a Mac and I guess there are not so many people to ask about that out there.

But after playing around with some lens distortion (ok… it was late) I remembered some tutorials by Frank Rueter that are available on www.thefoundry.co.uk about spherical transformations. So what I ended up doing was basically taking three “90° field of view” cameras and rotate them around by 90°. In Nuke I used a spherical transform node and converted the sides of the panoramic cube to a 180° picture. Simples! If some of you guys know any better solutions or found different ways to render panoramic CG Images, please feel free to leave a comment.

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