VR requirements: Flash (NOT Java or QTVR); full screen; ease of implementation via CMS; hotspots;
For stitching the daddy seems to be RealViz Stitcher. Clearly. There many tools based on the opensource Panorama Tools out there. But under the nasty interfaces they have relatively steep learning curves and look to require some Photoshop work to tidy the results. Stitcher seems capable of easily producing decent panoramas ready for VR. And it does VR bt not in Flash. (Perhaps other tools would fare better with images better than the rough handhelds I took for testing.)
Then again my testing has been limited to Mac software…
There are two options (on a Mac) to create Flash VR from the panorama image files that Stitcher can export
Option 1: RealViz Stitcher Express ($80) & Pano2VR (~$110)
The cheapest overall option as it works with the cylindrical image format which we can export from the consumer version of Stitcher; Stitcher Express. This works well enough but hotspots and Fullscreen viewing are not well implemented. Hotspot links are via URLs on image maps. URLs need to be to a web page as full screen viewing is enabled in the containing HTML. Another issue with yer hotspots is that when in fullscreen the viewers flow is broken as the VR jumps out of full screen to a new web page. Perhaps this could be hacked. Check out the example here XXXXXXXXXXXX.
Each VR is a self contained SWF movie. The panorama image, Hotspot image maps, metadata and Hotspot URLs are all encased in this SWF – but full screen functionality is enabled in the HTML. Full screen functionality breaks when Hotspots link directly to SWFs.
If we go with this solution we need to drop the hotspot functionality; VR would need to be together on the webpage
Option 2: RealViz Stitcher Express ($80), Flashificator (freeware adobe AIR based app) and Flash Panorama Player (FPP) ($69)
FPP normally requires cubic/equirectangular images – hence may need the expensive version of Stitcher ($350) but there is a third party freeeware tool “Flashificator” to avoid this. (Found this via the FPP forum here. Some good advice here too.) FPP looks to be The Dog’s but I can’t test it as there’s no demo version. Neither is there much in the way of documentation before purchase. Seems to be well liked though. Cost to test: $69. I think we’d do well to try it out. As I’m not totally convinced by option 1.
Other options: (PC based so I’m not really the guy to test them) Panoweaver and Tourweaver from Easypano (c. $500 ea)
Panoweaver does stitching and publishing to Flash. Seems to do a good job.
VR Photography Hardware
Use a prime lens to facilitate lens calibration (looking to upgrade to PTGui)
hugin (decent but short on details howto here: http://www.bryanhansel.com/?p=895)