Meet the company capturing the South West in 360
Whether you’re searching for the ultimate event venue, looking for the ideal space to grow your business or are on the hunt for the perfect family home, being able to experience what the space is like is important.
Bringing a fresh perspective is Bath-based startup 360 Image Tours which is slowly transforming South West spaces into 360 images allowing virtual tours from anywhere in the world in just a few clicks.
“Our aim is to transport an audience to a virtual world”
Having heard about the startup capturing both the Roman Baths and the Guild Coworking Hub for techies and creatives living in Bath, as well as Bristol’s science businesses incubator Unit DX, we caught up with founder Andy Fletcher (pictured right) to find out more.
Create and connect
Andy has been involved in the imaging industry for many years, working with major manufacturers including Panasonic and Sanyo and was responsible mainly for IP Megapixel cameras.
He tells us: “I recognised that as virtual reality and 360° virtual tours had become more user-friendly and familiar to the general public, largely due to Google Street View and Maps, virtual tours were becoming commonplace and were a great asset to any business.
“It’s not often you would have the whole [of the Roman Baths] to yourself”
“Our aim is to transport an audience to a virtual world. Using state-of-the-art creative software to build fully immersive and engaging virtual reality, a consumer or prospective customer can immediately connect with a business. Each VR experience we create is bespoke, bringing every detail of a business to life in stunning virtual detail.”
Most recently Andy was commissioned to create a 360 virtual reality tour of Bristol-based Unit DX – the UK’s first science-focused business incubator and co-working space.
You can check out one of Unit DX’s specialist labs at Unit DX in 360 below:
This virtual space creating tech hasn’t just reached as far as the South West’s enthusiastic tech and digital scene, however. 360 Image Tours has had some great successes bringing 360 to a whole range of businesses.
Andy adds: “Probably the most enjoyable 360 tour I have photographed would be the Roman Baths (pictured left). It’s not often you would have the whole venue to yourself. To date this tour has received 2 million views.
“I have also enjoyed fantastic feedback from many clients and have often been asked to re-shoot tours to keep them fresh and up to date. They have found them an invaluable marketing resource and have seen increased footfall and website visits.
“In fact, a recent tour for ‘Visit Hillbrush’ published only in July has received over 4000 visits, seeing their website footfall increase dramatically.”
Surprisingly, the tools and tech required to create virtual reality tours of spaces isn’t as complex as you might imagine. Andy explains: “Actually the gear is very old school. A Nikon DSLR, 8mm lens, rotator and tripod (pictured in action, below right).
“A photograph is worth 1,000 words, a virtual tour is worth 1,000 photographs”
“There have been advances in 360 cameras especially in ‘one-shot’ cameras which stitch and process the images in the camera. However, the quality from these new cameras is a long way from matching a DSLR. The hard work and time is mostly in post editing. Using specialist software to layer the bracketed images for HDR, stitching seamlessly and of course Photoshop to make the images pop.”
It’s not easy to build a business that crosses the divide between tech, creative and marketing however. And Andy gives this advice: “It takes time to get good at the dozens of things you need to be good at to run a successful photography business.
“But photography is a people business. Even if you’re a landscape shooter, your clients are people. And the better you can work with, and take care of, the people you do business with, the more success you’ll see.”
Andy adds: “A photograph is worth 1,000 words, a virtual tour is worth 1,000 photographs.”