Facebook 360° Photo Spheres

Facebook 360° Photo Spheres

On the evening of June 9th 2016 Facebook introduced support for viewing 360° photos and photo spheres. On the morning of June 10th, the Development & Alumni Office (DAO) posted a photo sphere of the Cloisters, writes guest blogger Kevin Gilmartin.

Was it the first use of photo spheres on Facebook by a University? If not, it was certainly close. Here’s how you can start creating photo spheres for your Facebook pages.

Increased engagement

Facebook compressed that first sphere more than we would’ve liked (more on that later), but it was still very cool and received 28 comments, 241 reactions (all likelove and wow!) and 45 shares.

As I write this post our Facebook audience size is still just a hair under 10,000 and we’ve never yet boosted anything so, graduation photos notwithstanding, for a DAO post those numbers are superb – we knew we were on to a winner with photo spheres.

Tips for making your own

If you want to make your own photo spheres, it’s easy. All you need is a smartphone (for Android you need to be running a minimum of KitKat) and the right app, but with a little extra gear and know-how you can get your spheres looking almost seamless.

Here’s my tips for creating a great photo sphere:

1. The right photo sphere app

Use the Google Street View camera – it has the best interface we’ve found for taking 360° images. It’s available on both iOS and Android.

2. Stability is key

Use a tripod! Pick up a cheap tripod (I got one for £5 in a charity shop) and smartphone grip. The more centred your camera lens is on its x and y axes the more seamless your photo sphere will look.

3. The right direction

Go up for the first few segments, then work your way down and around each row. Finish with your phone pointed straight down. This method has yielded the best results for me.

4. Post-production is possible.

If you’ve no need to post immediately you can take your images into Photoshop and remove any rogue tripod legs or shoes. Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill makes this really simple. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also brighten up a cloudy day like I have here. Of course, if you’re careful you can be sure to leave the legs out in the initial capture.

5. Keep your original quality

If you’re posting from the mobile app, turn off image compression in Facebook!

This was the mistake I made with our very first sphere; I didn’t even know this setting existed until I Googled “Facebook is compressing my images too much”.

It’s in Settings, then scroll almost to the bottom until you see App Settings, then turn on “Upload HD Photos”.

That’s all there is to it

When you post your photo sphere Facebook automatically recognises it as a panoramic image, all you need to do is come up with a suitable blurb and CTA to get people engaging with it.

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