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How I added a panoramic photosphere to Google Maps using my Phantom 3 Advanced

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by dmark1867, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. dmark1867

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    This is lengthy and I am sure it is far from the best method to accomplish this. These are my notes and they are what worked for me. It may be flawed and overly cumbersome, but again this is just what works for me and I thought I would share it.

    Here is my resulting Google Maps Photosphere
    Huntington, WV Memorial Arch: Google Maps
    (Next time I will go when there is less wind and better lighting and hopefully I will get a better result)

    What I used:
    Phantom 3 drone (of course)
    Litchi App
    Microsoft Image Composite Editor
    GeoSetter
    Photoshop 5.5 64bit
    photosphere.xmp (available here http://goo.gl/Yt3xyG, right click and save as)
    Notepad++
    Google+ Account
    Google Maps
    Google URL Shortener

    Steps

    1st
    Go to maps.google.com and search for the location that you want to add a photosphere.
    To add a photosphere the place or landmark must already exist on google maps.
    There has to be a "place" associated with your photo for you to be able to access "Add Photo" option/button. If there is not one (ie remote locations) you could try to add it using the google maps website or try to create it using Googles Map Maker.

    2nd
    Capturing images to create your panoramic:
    I use the PANO option in Litchi with the following settings
    Type Spherical 3 Rows
    Photos per Row 12

    3rd
    Stitching together images for the panoramic:
    I use Microsoft Image Composite Editor to stitch together images
    (use default settings)
    Export resulting image to desktop using Quality of 100

    I have also tried using PTGui & Hugin but I personally have had the best results using Microsoft Image Composite Editor (although I do believe using one of the other programs may allow for a more streamline approach to this entire process).

    4th
    Confirm that GPS metadata is contained with the image:
    Use GeoSetter to make sure GPS information is in the image.
    Right click on the file select show image position on map.

    5th
    Getting the proper dimensions for the photosphere:
    A photosphere MUST have a width to height ratio of 2:1, if your width is 15872px the height MUST be 7936px (15872 : 2) . So you must add some black space at the top of your image.
    Use Photoshop to add the space, open the image, select image-canvas size, change to pixels, adjust so that the height is 1/2 the width, click the down arrow so that it adds the extra space above the image.

    6th
    Adding the missing sky
    (Note I tried manually pointing the phantom 3 camera up and take some images and adding them to the image but that did not work for me, next time I will try using either my phone, point & shoot camera, or DSLR to get images of the sky looking up and see if those will stitch in).

    Open image with Photoshop 5.5 64bit
    Use the selector tool (the rectangular marquee tool), on the left, second from the bottom and select the any small black clipping at the top of the image as well as the white part at the top, and then hit delete on my keyboard, Select the following: Contents, Use Content Aware, Blending accept default.
    If after doing this any of the sky still needs fixed select that area of the sky and repeat the same process. Keep repeating this process until the sky looks good.

    7th
    Saving the image for Google Maps
    Save the image using highest jpeg quality.
    Next step is to upload to my Google+ account, but the size can be tricky
    Go to Google+
    Upload size of photosphere to Google+ seems to be inconsistent.
    I have found that sizes under 35mb seem to work well.
    I have used the following: Image size: Width 14000 by Height 7000 pixels

    Test uploading image to your Google+ account
    Once I have verified the image is not to large to add to my Google+ Account then delete the photo from my account.

    8th
    Getting the photosphere to work with Google Maps:
    Open the file photosphere.xmp with notepad++
    Make sure the following match the correct image width and height:
    <GPano:CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels>14000</GPano:CroppedAreaImageWidthPixels>
    <GPano:CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels>7000</GPano:CroppedAreaImageHeightPixels>
    <GPano:FullPanoWidthPixels>14000</GPano:FullPanoWidthPixels>
    <GPano:FullPanoHeightPixels>7000</GPano:FullPanoHeightPixels>
    Then save the file

    Open image that I was able to upload to my Google+ account with Photoshop
    Once open, click on file, then File Info, then select Import.
    Use Middle Import Option
    Keep original metadata, but replace matching properties from template
    Select photosphere.xmp and click open then click ok

    9th
    Adding the image to Google Maps
    Then rename file to something that makes sense and upload to my google+ account (if the image is recognized as a photosphere you will see an icon in the middle of the image) post to Public and click on Share.

    Then go to image location (the "place" in step 1) at maps.google.com and click on the place (remember this needs to exist already in google maps), in bottom right corner of screen select the icons to the left of the little drag and drop google person marker that is labeled "Show imagery", now from window that appears below select "Add a photo", then select "Your photos" and then select the image you just uploaded to your google+ account.

    It should show up now on Google Maps. Although I have gotten strange results in chrome after posting.
    On the PC I posted it from when I go there in chrome I get a bunch of exclamation marks. But if I go in IE or even in chrome from another PC it works fine. Also seems to work fine from the same PC a few days later. I have no idea why I experience this, but it does not seem to be permanent.

    Good Luck!
     
    BDinLV, Richard Gozinya and BigAl07 like this.
  2. Ed Fink

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    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Somebody here or some aerial forum suggested https://www.cgskies.com/ I bought one of their skies and used it on a few of my aerials. Here's one of them on Google Maps:
    Google Maps

    Once the snow is gone and everything is green again I hope to shoot a bunch of 360 aerials, so I'm going to buy several different skies and mix them up as needed to match the actual sky. The Phantom gets enough of the sky above the horizon that it hasn't been too difficult to feather the new sky into the original. You can download low res samples and stretch them out to your 14k pano just to get an idea how it will look. I took one look at the sample over my sky and bought the full size one (14k I think).

    The hardest part is selecting which of their awesome skies to buy!

    Ed Fink
    360 Degree Panoramas: Featured
     
    AP4me likes this.
  3. dmark1867

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    Ed your image looks great, it is too bad the samples do not work, looks like the costs for those can add up quick.
    Do you have the process documented that you use to add them to your image by any chance?

    Next time I think I will try taking several images of the sky with my DSLR camera and seeing if those can be stitched in. That site does have a lot of amazing skies to choose from though!
     
  4. Wolfiesden

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    Just curious, why not using PS pano stitcher?
     
  5. dmark1867

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    To be 100% honest, I am not using it because I have never heard of it, nor know how to use it.
    I guess you recommend it?
     
  6. Wolfiesden

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    I did this with it in about 5 minutes...
    [​IMG]
    Granted its not a full pano, but I didn't take all the photos needed, just a few to experiment with.

    All I did was select the photos in LightRoom, and export to Photoshop as a pano.

    In Photoshop alone (no Lightroom), go to File then Automate, then select Photomerge.
    Not sure how long that tool has been there but I have CS5 at work and its there. At home I have CS6.
     
    Richard Gozinya likes this.
  7. dmark1867

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    Your photo looks great, I have just used ICE because it is so easy to use, I might give this a try, thanks!
     
  8. Wolfiesden

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    And, I too, will give ICE a test! I asked the question because I was curious the reasons for using ICE opposed to PS which you were already using in other steps. Thought there might be a feature or somethihng ICE did that PS didn't or that ICE did better.

    Do you know if ICE will read the DNG raw files from the Phantom? I know LR and PS do, thats all.
     
  9. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
    Staff Member

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    I've used PS pano stitch and it works just great but the MS ICE is easier to use and quicker but far fewer features. Also ICE is a freebie but like I said lacks some advanced features.
     
  10. dmark1867

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    ICE is just super easy to use. Plus I can try taking several pictures of the sky and if it can stitch them in it will and if it won't prompt me to manually specify stitch points.

    Natively I do not think you can use it with RAW DNG files, but you might be able to get it to work using one of these here: WIC Codecs for Image Composite Editor

    Or you could batch convert the raw files to jpgs and go that way.

    Usually when I do a pano from my phantom I don't shoot raw because it seems to slow the process down.
     
    BigAl07 likes this.
  11. Richard Gozinya

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    Awesome informative post. I found it because I was searching for a way to pad the corners with clouds in photoshop. You solution works better than I had hoped. Thank you OP
     
  12. Imabiggles

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    Alternately, get a good camera and take a manual pano of the sky, accomplishes the same thing. Heck, even a decent phone camera can do it. Youre weakest pics are from the phantom so having the highest resolution is not that critical (just take at or above resolution of phantom pic). You just have to make sure you frame the ground object to be lower than the horizon. If a building peaks above the horizon line, it becomes more challenging, but certainly doable in editing.
     
    manuc0 likes this.
  13. dmark1867

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    I am glad it helped
     
  14. dmark1867

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    Depending on the clouds I have had limiting success with how well the stitching works when doing this method, sometimes it works out well though.
     
  15. Imabiggles

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    include the horizon. I use google pano from there app and it never had an issue.
     
  16. dmark1867

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    I will give that a shot, thanks
     
  17. Richard Gozinya

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    I'm getting a pano of approximately 15000 x 5000 pixels using ICE as a stitcher yielding a 3:1 aspect ratio. How are you getting these things to a 2:1 aspect ratio? Are you padding the vertical with extra clouds at the top?
     
  18. Imabiggles

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    2:1 panos? thats a whole lot of verticle for no reason (sky is kind of boring). just deal with non-standard aspects. I think Ice has limits on aspects, I use Gigapan
     
  19. dmark1867

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    Correct, look at steps 5 and 6 from my original post.