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This tutorial will show you how to upload a "PhotoSphere" to Facebook.

We need to make a seamless 360 degree image.
If you don't know how to make a seamless image, here is a great primer.
Once our image is completed, we can upload it as a PhotoSphere.


Spherical Map

Cubic Map
Download and install ExifTool, which you will need to modify the final JPG's MetaData.
Do not be intimidated if you've never worked with MetaData before!

What is a Cubic Map?

Imagine a finely wrapped Winter Solstice Gift. You completely unfold the box, wrapping-paper side down.
You are now looking at the inner faces of the Cube, laid out in front of you.

How does this apply to a Virtual Environment?
If you were to float in the center of the box, and seal it back up, we could name each face of the cube you are stuck in relative to your position.

The face in front of you would be "Front". The face behind you would be "Back". Above you, "Up", and so on.

What is a Spherical Map?

Imagine your Winter Solstice Gift is Sphere shaped. How will you neatly unwrap this clever Spherical container? Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

This paper would have to be stretchy in order to seamlessly wrap the gift in the first place.

If you've properly played with Silly Putty, you know what stretchy materials will do to artwork.
Correct, stretchy materials distort your beautiful artwork.

Look how distorted our beautiful Cubic Map becomes if we use it to wrap a Sphere. The relative directions become a bit convoluted:

We will need both Maps to complete our image:

  • The Cubic Map is great for showing us all faces without distortion, but it's difficult to draw a coherent image in this layout.
  • The Spherical Map is great for layout and detail work, but the poles are completely distorted.

We will now bring a 360 Image to life using all of the tools mentioned above, in addition to Facebook's PhotoSphere app.

We have six views to work with (Up, Down, Left, Right, Front, Back). Ideally, each view will have something cool in it.

Let's make our layout on the Spherical Map.

In my case, I am making a sinuous road in the sky.
The audience will be floating above the road.
The road will terminate in front of them; the expanse of the road traveled stretches out behind them.
There will be five characters flying around and a planet in the sky above them.
Next let's make sure everything looks okay on the Cube Map.

There are a few tools available to convert between Spherical Maps and Cubic Maps.
I have been using Michele Sandroni's PhotoSphere Converter (It is hosted on his site under Software & Experiments).

Here are some things of note if you're new to Spherical Mapping:
  • The character in the Left view's feet are getting pulled into the Down view. We don't want to deal with that kind of distortion on a major asset. Let's move him upward.
  • The planet in the Top view is off-center. We will need to fix this later.
  • The sinuous road needs to major touch-up in the Down view.
This all passes our Sanity-Check. Let's move back to the Spherical Map.
Back in our Spherical Map, let's proceed with some detail work.
Remember that your left edge and right edge must match up seamlessly.
This will involve a lot of use of the Offset tool.

Here are some things of note if you're new to the Offset Tool:
  • It's located in Filters > Other > Offset.
  • You cannot Offset multiple Layers at the same time.
  • Ctrl+F is the hotkey for "Last Filter Used". Use it to rapidly offset Layers in succession.
Line art is more or less complete. Let's stop here to Sanity-Check everything on the Cubic Map.
  • Tien's feet still need to be moved
  • The planet in the Up view will need to be illustrated
  • The road in the Down view will need to be cleaned up
Cool. Let's flesh out Snake Way a bit more in Spherical mode before we attempt to clean it up in Cubic mode.
Okay. I've sunk some time into the readability of Snake Way; it's ready for clean-up.

Before we spend any more time with detail work, let's pause to make sure the Scale of our environment and the scale of our characters is agreeable.

Why do we check the Scale?

If you're in a PhotoSphere, you want the characters to be about your height; you want to feel like you can fit in the environment.

How do we check the Scale?

We can use Facebook's PhotoSphere App to turn this Spherical Map into an interactive PhotoSphere. There are some rules:
  • Maximum width is 3000 pixels
  • Image aspect must be 2:1 (eg: a resolution of 2048 x 1024)
  • Image requires specific MetaData (ProjectionType="equirectangular")
If your image meets all of these qualifications, posting it as you would a normal Photo will turn it into a PhotoSphere!
TIP: There is a feature to post things privately ("Only Me") so that you can test and iterate without an audience.

How do I insert the required MetaData? (????????)

  • Follow these instructions to install ExifTool on your machine.
  • Next, launch a Command Prompt (aka "Terminal" (Mac), aka "Cmd" (Win)), and type the following:
    exiftool -ProjectionType="equirectangular" "C:\Users\sally\images\my_spherical_mapped_artwork.jpg"
  • Be sure to replace "C:\Users\sally\images\my_spherical_mapped_artwork.jpg" with the full path to your image.
Viewing the image in a PhotoSphere let me know that the characters were too big.

After shrinking them down a bit, I proceeded to finish the detail work on the Front, Back, Left and Right faces.
It's now time to deal with the Up and Down views. To do this, we will need to convert our image from Spherical to Cubic Mapping.

Spherical Mapping

Cubic Mapping
I have merged all the relevant layers into a single Background layer for this purpose.
By sparing the Character assets from the conversion process, we maintain a higher quality image.

Bring the newly generated Cubic Map into PhotoShop and clean up your Up and Down views.
Once you've finished working on the Up and Down views, convert your Cubic Map back into a Spherical Map.
Add your finishing touches. Congratulations, you're nearly done!
To complete your work:
  • Export a JPG from PhotoShop
  • Insert the ProjectionType MetaData using ExifTool
  • Upload your image to Facebook!