The State of the Art in Architectural Photography: Bringing virtual reality to architectural photography

May 18th, 2016 by Jesse Gerard

In the 4th installment of our series leading up to the “State of the Art in Architectural photography” presentation at the 2016 AIA convention, we’ll push the boundaries of what we normally think of as “Photography.” The ever-expanding purview of the photographer can now include video, and the topic that’s attracting a huge amount of attention, virtual reality!

Virtual reality (VR)

VR is poised to change the way that we experience media. Architecture has many innate qualities that make it of huge interest to VR developers. VR allows the viewer to see spaces and volumes from a human perspective; sounds perfect for architecture, right? The type of virtual reality we’re going to discuss is often known by other names including spherical photography, and 360 panoramas. These are still photographs of real spaces that can be used with a stereoscopic viewer ,such as Google Cardboard, or the more powerful Oculus Rift.

You can make spherical photography VR images right now with your smartphone using the Google Street View app,which stitches together images from your phone’s camera into a sphere. To go one step up, you can purchase an affordable spherical camera, like the Ricoh Theta. For a full professional presentation things get a bit more complicated: it’s best to stitch together images from a mainstream high-end dSLR.

Here’s an example of a tour of an office interior that we’ve made using spherical photography.


Moveable elements

Things like doors and drawers are classic subjects for architectural video, as their character is only completely conveyed when they are in motion. Other more grand examples of motion in architecture that are prime video subjects would be kinetic art (think Calder Mobiles), or convertible spaces or tiny houses. This kind of video is something that can be done by non-professionals using a stationary camera on a tripod. Even a mobile phone would work in this case, as long as it’s stable.

Here’s an example of a video we’ve made of architecture in motion with a stationary camera in professional quality that has perspective and color correction, as well as titles and branding that make it perfect for social media.


If you’ve found or made an architectural video, we’d love to see it: tweet us @photospaces and @studioHDP


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