After making 360º VR panoramas from ground level and from tall structures for the last decade I had always wanted to get an even higher viewpoint and through an American panoramic photographer friend of mine who shoots 360º VR aerial panoramas in the US I met Paul Pastecchi of Dynamic Filming. Paul is a professional drone pilot and a technical wizard who designs and builds his own octocoper drones to carry both large and small still and video cameras. In our case we needed an octocopter drone that would lift my Canon 5D Mk II and remain motionless whilst the rig underneath turned the camera 360º and triggered it to fire at preset intervals to give me enough images to strip together to make a full 360º VR aerial panorama.

360º VR aerial panorama shoot day

We decided to make a test panorama in the skies above Vilanova i la geltru, a town down the coast from Barcelona. Paul knew of an area that had planning permission to build apartments and office buildings but was for now just an open piece of land. So, with my camera and the Canon 15mm fisheye lens bolted underneath, Paul took the octocopter drone up to 60 metres then stopped and remained motionless. The camera had been set facing slightly downwards to cover the ground area so that no nadir shot would be necessary and the rig set to make 8 stops on it’s way around the 360º turn. We did 2-3 full turns at three different heights before bringing the octocopter drone back down to earth, the entire process taking no more than five minutes. I then unbolted the camera and shot one frame straight up into the sky which I later used to cover the zenith point above the camera.

The final 360º VR aerial panorama can be seen HERE

Once the panorama had been stitched I gave the 6 cube faces to Engine, the company that had made 3D renders of the buildings that were going to be put up in the area. They then dropped these renders, that had been created using 3D Studio Max, into my 360ºVR aerial panorama to give an idea of how the area would look once finished. This alternate version of my panorama can be seen HERE.

After seeing this pano, the estate agents CORP commissioned Paul and I to shoot two aerial panoramas at two different heights over an empty building plot which they would later strip into the renders of their apartments on the 5th and 12th floor to show the views that the potential buyers would get. Equipment used:

  • Canon EOS-5D Mk II
  • Canon 2.8/15mm fisheye lens
  • Radio controlled Octocopter drone