Alain Hamblenne, an independent graphic designer and teacher of visual communication and panoramic photography at the École Supérieure d’Infographie (Haute École Albert Jacquard) of Namur (Belgium), has just created a stunning 360° virtual tour in 3D and in high definition of the Liège-Guillemins train station (red/blue filter glasses needed).
This station, imagined by architect Santiago Calatrava (who also conceived the impressive Opera of Valencia (Spain) and the Lyon Saint-Exupéry train station) is perfectly suitable for this kind of exercise: the architectural lines and the station furniture make the 3D view really gripping.
Alain Hamblenne used two Nikon D90 carrying Nikkor 18-200mm lenses and mounted on a Maxwell MP-101 motorized head driven by a Photo-Jinn controller. Hamblenne used Kolor Autopano Giga 2.5 software to stitch the images together (2 panoramas of 125 photos) and Kolor Panotour Pro 1.5 software to transform the panoramic images into an interactive 360° virtual tour.
Alain gives hereafter some details on how he created this nice image:
Alain, how did you get the idea of creating 3D virtual tours?
The origin of my first projects is actually quite simple. Fascinated by panoramic photography and anaglyph images since 1997, it was natural that I sought to combine the two techniques in a cubic panorama. This would not only enable to move at 360 x 180° but also to feel the relief of the scene.
Without really realizing it at the time, it seems that I was the first to incorporate this anaglyph relief effect in a cubic panoramic sequence right from the spring of 2002.
It was after a series of research and various tests carried out in cylindrical panoramas (example 1, example 2) that I published the panorama of the church of Saint-Jacques de Liège, which became a classic of its kind.
For more information about my work on the relief, you can view this page (in French).
Why did you choose the train station of Liège-Guillemins ?
Over the last 10 years technology has changed dramatically. Digital cameras and software are much more efficient. The speed of access to information published on the Web is unmatched with regard to the early 2000s. So I wanted to make a new panoramic image in relief, but on a much larger image. The question therefore arose of choosing a location of interest to showcase this new challenge.
I did not have to think very long… the new TGV station in Liège-Guillemins, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, was the perfect place because of the architectural interest of this building. I had to get the necessary permissions from Eurogare and SNCB, then I could achieve the necessary shots.
Why did you choose Kolor Autopano Giga software to stitch the images together ?
I used to work on Stitcher software since its version 3.1. As you might know, the latest version is called Stitcher Unlimited 2009 and as its name shows, it has not evolved for about 2 years!
I talked with Arnaud Frich about more powerful software during his visit to our school. Then I decided to switch to Kolor Autopano Giga, discovering a new philosophy of work.
After a few tests to get my bearings and try the different tools, I was definitely conviced by Kolor Autopano Giga with regard to the amazing speed of execution in image analysis, the automatic or manual placing of links between images, the opportunity to work on multiple views at the same time and to easily edit a multitude of alternatives, the stitching quality and harmonization of colors and lights and the other unique features of this software.
Why did you choose Kolor Panotour Pro software to create the virtual tour?
I am very far from mastering this part of the job of transforming the panoramas into virtual tours. I often admire the virtual tours that manage to give value to panoramic contents. In this instance, apart from a vortex effect worthy of the most amazing roller coasters;-) Kolor Panotour Pro especially helped me to publish the panorama of Liège-Guillemin in high quality thanks to its integrated multi-resolution function.
Is this virtual tour your first one in 3D? What are your other projects?
Apart from the first sequences in relief mentioned above, I have only created few others and always as personal research.
That said, I had a good surprise when I won the “First International Digital Anaglyph Contest – Dabiri Award” held in Iran in 2005, with a flat cylindrical version of the Saint-Jacques church.
> Top 10 of the contest (click on the blue dots)
> The flat image
Another test conducted in 2004 at the Blanc Gravier University Sports Centre at Sart Tilman (in QTVR).
For my participation in the WWP (World Wide Panorama) in September 2004, I made a panorama from the underside of the bridge Fragnée (Liege).
A family pano… when visiting my daughter at my parents in 2005.
In 2009, a nearly spherical pano made at the Historic Marine store in Brussels (QTVR).
That same year, the House of Science (Liège) ordered me a relief image in a “View-Master” type (2 separate views) for the exhibition “Diversity of Primates”. Here is the anaglyph version.
I would add that apart from these few productions in relief, I also create traditional panoramic views of course, for a range of culture or business customers, with a soft spot for the comic strip world;-) (examples: The workshop of Christian Binet, the father of the Bidochon, the exhibition The World of Franquin (in QTVR) and a tribute to my friend Tibet gone too soon a year ago).
Finally, I work on a little stranger job for a while now. The digitization of the collection of anatomical jars of University of Liège (Department of Anatomy) as VR Objects sequences which are then used as educational tools in anatomy courses in medicine.
Thank you Alain for these detailled answers ; we wish you good success in both photography teaching and your other projects!
You can contact Alain Hamblenne via the website of his photo studio Outline.