The new generation of 360-degree cameras are best known for creating interactive virtual reality photos and videos. But there are some other things you can do with them, like creating so-called tiny planets.
If you’ve never heard of tiny planets, they take the natural distortion of a 360-degree spherical image and amp it up to the nth degree. They get their name from the distinctive look of many of the ones on this page that look, well, like tiny planets. But you can also change the nature of the distortion and even invert it and end up with other effects, like some of the interior shots here.
These are real photos–not generated graphics. They basically go to town with the fish-eye distortion. Instead of the usual 180° or so of a standard fish-eye lens, these have 360° to play with.
I’ve shot some of Washington DC’s monuments with a Ricoh Theta S, so I decided to try some fun experiments of seeing how they’d come out as tiny planets. I patched them with Pano2VR to replace the nadir, and ran them through Circular Studio.
You don’t need to use the Ricoh Theta S, of course. You can even do it by shooting with a DSLR and stitching the images to create and equirectangular panoramas. Technically can you use any image–it doesn’t have to be a panorama, but they give the best results. But the advantage of using the new breed of 360 cameras, including the new Nikon KeyMission 360, is that they’re so quick–with a single click you end up with a spherical image without any need to mess with stitching or shooting multiple images.
Here are some of the results.
Tiny Planet Generators
If you’re looking to try out generating tiny planets without forking out for a software license, Kuula includes a simple and free generator as one of their built-in features. You can then right click on the generated image and save it as a PNG.
If you want much more flexibility and many more features, I’ve found Circular Studio to be very good–it’s Mac only.