Guide to panoramic photography
Généralités sur la panoramic photography Stitching a panorama Create a virtual tour Reviews equipment and software Links, books, DVD, VOD

Updated on May 22, 2020

Which software to make a virtual tour ?

We're getting close to the end! Once the panorama stitched, you only have to open it in Virtual Tour Pro (3DVista) or any other virtual tour software set it in motion and create interactions...

When the 360° panorama is stitched, it takes the form of a rectangular image with a 1/2 ratio embracing 180° × 360° if you shot the complete sphere. What can do more can do less, so that was our take on things in this guide. We'll now see how to turn this flat and distorted panorama into a nice virtual tour distortions-free. For that, we'll have to choose several important options but above all, we'll need virtual tour software.


panorama tour to become a virtual visit

Complete virtual tour of Aventure Michelin in Clermont-Ferrand, France.


When the spherical panorama is assembled, it is a rectangular image in a 1/2 ratio embracing 180° × 360° if you have photographed the entire sphere. This is called an equirectangular image. It may very well be only a portion of a panorama. But who can do the most can do the least so it was my bias in this guide. We will now see how to transform this deformed flattened panorama into a beautiful virtual tour without distortion. To do this, we need to choose some important options but above all, we need a virtual tour creation software, the most famous of which was Kolor's Panotour Pro, which closed in 2018 and whose "logical" competitors become 3DVista's Virtual Tour - which I now use - and Garden Gnome's Pano2VR 6.1 its competitor (My tutorials are coming soon...). Finally, you can be tempted by Nodalview packages that offer fewer customization options but take care of hosting and do not require you to learn editing software.
A virtual tour is therefore a "special" panoramic photo since it encompasses 360° × 180° at best, presented in a browser window or in full screen with which you can interact with your mouse. You can zoom, unzoom, go in all directions, click on links, move from one room to another, etc. thanks to a set of buttons visible at the bottom of the window or hotspots placed on the panorama at strategic locations as shown above.


The key points if you're a beginner...

Here are the key points to remember about virtual tour creation. The rest of this page is aimed at those who want to learn more.

The major problem of virtual tour until then was cross-browser compatibility (Internet, tablets, smartphones). There are two ways to proceed indeed: in Flash, the past and in HTML 5, the close future.

QuickTime is dead or almost for virtual tours and Java will be progressively replaced by HTML 5.

Depending on what virtual tour creation piece of software you'll choose, you won't necessarily be compatible with all browsers. With the Pano2VR or Virtual Tour, the issue is now solved because it generates HTML 5!

Go back to contents page suivre





Extensions and viewers

It is they who will determine all compatible devices and all available features. Let's start with a bit of history ....

A little history of extensions and other viewers ...

There existed, before 2015, three main extensions so three main viewers, integrated into the various Internet browsers, to view these virtual tours: Flash (Adobe Flash Player), Java (Java) or Quicktime (Apple). So from the same photo, it was possible to get three or four "different" virtual tours. These differences are made in the possibilities specific to each format. An example: in compatible Iphone / Ipad format, it is essential to provide a complete spherical image otherwise it does not work ...

The choice of extension was therefore essential until last year. Such an extension could, in fact, be incompatible with such browser or such medium (smartphones for example). It was therefore necessary to select his audience ... or to generate several visits with several formats ...

Flash - Flash

It was the most common and powerful extension. It seems that 2015 marks the end of this expansion. But we could do everything with her! It was light and did not require a heavy viewer to download. Almost every computer in the world, MAC, PC, LINUX, was compatible and had this viewer installed by default. It was universal until the arrival of smartphones and tablets, incompatible unfortunately, either for technical constraints or by choice (Apple does not want Flash in its iBidulles!). No defect for the user but obviously more for developers or technicians. Has been replaced by html 5, below.

Icône Java - Java

The oldest extension is practically universal. It is now possible to make virtual tours in Javascript compatible smartphones and tablets, even the famous Iphone and Ipad Apple. But above all, it is very light since a Java viewer is still very light (less than 200KB). It has evolved a lot over time. She does not have many faults either.

When a device is compatible with Flash and Java, this is totally irrelevant for the user. So we could be tempted to create all these visits in this format but then, in Panotour Pro for example, it becomes incompatible with the complete nonspherical panoramas (180x360 °). There is always something !!!

Icône QTVR - Quicktime VR

The oldest extension of Apple in the world of virtual reality is no longer the most practical. To see a virtual tour in QTVR, it is essential to install the Apple Quicktime player on your computer and it weighs 20 MB. This is an undeniable obstacle to its development. Today, this extension no longer seems relevant to create and visualize virtual tours.

And now ...

The new html 5 has made everyone agree by its compatibility all media and its possibilities.

Icône HTML 5 - HTML 5

This new format, has supplanted the other extensions because it is compatible with all browsers of computers, smartphones, tablets and more! Virtual Tour or Pano2VR use it. With this software it is now possible to create virtual tours compatible with all media.

A few viewers...

  Company MAC PC LINUX IOS Android
Partial (3)
Html 5
Partial (1)
Partial (2)

(1) : 32 bits only.
(2) : depends on the browser and the plugins downloaded.
(3) : to watch videos only and depends on the Android version.





Virtual tour software

Less numerous than stitching pieces of software, virtual tour creation pieces of software evolve very quickly, especially since the closure of Kolor by GoPro and thus the end of the excellent Panotour.

Caution! The price of the software will determine two very important points:

The possibility (or not) to integrate numerous multimedia interactive elements such as sound, photos but above all, videos, which are what makes a virtual tour worth watching. Check the possibilities before making a choice...
The size of the virtual tour, up to gigapixel.

A few virtual tour creation pieces of software...

  Editor Potential

Price €
VAT Excl.

Pano2VR 6.1
149 €
  Pano2VR Pro 6.1 GardenGnome 349 €
Virtual Tour
199 €
Virtual Tour PRO
499 €
  Panotour 2.5 Kolor
  Panotour Pro 2.5 Kolor
Cubic Converter



Pano2VR PRO 6.1

349,00 € (VAT excl.)

My opinion on Pano2VR 6.1 - Garden Gnome

Logo Mac
Logo Windows

Pano2VR in its latest version 6.1 is compatible with PC, MAC and LINUX and exists in several languages. It is a very powerful virtual tour creation software but it will not be suitable for everyone. Virtual tour creators will love creating their own graphic model, integrating many custom features, but beginners, real estate agents and those who prefer a beautiful design will prefer the competing software. I am testing it now to prepare my future tutorials. - Learn more and download Suivre

Note ! There is also a "Standard" version at 149,00 €, Necessarily limited in its possibilities.


Virtual Tour PRO

499.00 €
(VAT incl.)

My opinion on Virtual Tour / Pro - 3DVista

Logo Mac
Logo Windows

Virtual Tour / Pro is PC and MAC compatible. It is available in several languages. It is the "natural" replacement for PanoTour / Pro when you are looking for a more design-oriented software in its interface and graphic design. Virtual tours with Virtual Tour are really very elegant, whether you start from a blank page or an existing theme. On this criterion we are even much better than PanoTour because it has the good taste not to cost even more.
It is also a software that may be a little less "versatile" than Pano2VR below when you know how to create virtual tours or when you are a hacker/developer and you want to be able to realize all the features that our customers ask us for. However, novices, non-encoders, virtual tour enthusiasts and other real estate agents will love it. He is the most natural replacement at Panotour / Pro. I am preparing the tutorials and it becomes my virtual tour creation software -
Learn more and download Suivre

Note ! There is also a "Standard" version at 199,00 €, Necessarily limited in its possibilities.





The process

Here again, it is very simple even if each software has its own virtual tour creation process. However and unlike panorama software, the work in virtual tour creation software can take much longer. As an example, I spent over 45 minutes generating a virtual tour from 15 panoramas in Panotour Pro 2.5. But schematically, the steps can be summed up as follows:

  • Virtual Tour 3DVista interfaceOpen all the panoramas you want to integrate to the visit in the software;
  • For each panorama, indicate the point of view, the default angle, the maximum zoom-in and zoom-out;
  • For each panorama, check if you want the whole image or perform a partial reframing of a less interesting part.
  • Then create hotspots, in the form of sound, photos, html, links to another panorama, flare, videos, geolocalization, etc.
    Caution! Multimedia elements that can be integrated in the virtual tour depend on the version you'll buy.

  • Then, you'll customize the whole virtual tour: choice of the buttons, the overall sound, Google Maps, radars, maps, miniatures, etc.
  • Choose more down-to-earth and technical parameters such as the compression rate;
  • Choose output settings: Flash or Java? Incorporated files or not?
  • The software will then generate the virtual tour and its files and you'll then only have to integrate to a website...

Saving the file

Then, you can save your virtual tour in the folder you want. Format, as for itself, is important regarding browser compatibilities:

  • HTML 5 - New! - Panotour Pro 2 is now able to generate virtual tours compatible with all devices.
  • Flash or Java - very important - The only but important defect of Flash today is not to be compatible with new mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. However, a virtual tour compatible with an iPhone for instance can be viewed in any browser. It has a few limitations that should be fixed soon however... Flash enables, anyway, any boldness... Compatibility, always compatibility!!!
  • XML - For people who are familiar with these kinds of files, the possibility to edit them enables to customize the virtual tour even more. For advanced users!
  • Compatible with gigapixel virtual tours - There's nothing special to do if your software can manage it but you need to anticipate the space it will take on your hard drive, where the virtual tour and its files will be saved.

(videos in french...)

Create a virtual tour with Panotour / Pro 2.5 suivre
  (8 video tutorials for a free training 3h00 long! In french)

So that's how this tutorial dedicated to the creation of a virtual tour ends - Back to contents... Suivre


Pratical Guide N°1 :
The Nodal Point

$12.90 USD


My practical guides in e-books - N° 1!

"Find the nodal point or no parallax point accurately in less than an hour"... whether you are photographing a simple panorama or a 360° photo - PDF of 100 pages - More information... Suivre

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