Services - What We Do
Our main goal at Virtual Tours West is to produce the most effective, high-quality Virtual Tours possible at a price more affordable than standard videography services. We also offer other services that can be used in conjunction with Virtual Tours or can be provided separately.
To learn what a virtual tour is, you may wish to read our About Virtual Tours section. Listed below are the details for the services that we offer. Just click on the topic to read more about it or start reading about all our services below the following list.
- Attract Visitors to your Area
- Automatic Virtual Tour
- Interactive Virtual Tour
- Preparing for our Visit
Virtual Tour Options:
Virtual Tours West offers a complete line of services for developing Virtual Tours. More than just a panoramic picture that moves from side to side, our Virtual Tours blend together the information, maps and demographics of your location into a cohesive, total Virtual Tour experience.
Let us show you how our company can provide you with the most attractive, informative and easy-to-use virtual tour possible!
There are plenty of services out there that will sell you a product that tells you how to do the work yourself and then charge you a monthly fee to host your virtual tour on their website. We are different.
Let us do all the work for you and you will not only have a professional finished product but you won't have any monthly fee. That's because our virtual tours have true multimedia publishing capabilities which means that your virtual tour can be viewed on your own website, from a DVD, on YouTube or even on a smart phone.
Use our Virtual Tours to entice people to your destination - give them a real feel what it's like to actually be there.
Custom designed for:
- Cities & Tourism Boards
- Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs)
- Chambers of Commerce
- Hotels & Destination Resorts
- Community Marketing
|Tourism, DMOs, Chambers||Hotels & Resorts||Community Marketing|
Give a regional tour to your website visitors. Highlight your best area attractions and where they are located.
Show off your best scenic drives, hikes, view points, museums, etc.
Give individual tours to your website visitors. Show them each attraction and how to get there
Use our animated maps to give easy directions
Show off your meeting rooms, convention halls, wedding locations or venues
Create an electronic/video concierge for your guests. Show them things to do in the area from the comfort of their own room.
Show your guests where your amenities are located and how to use them.
Play the tours on your closed-circuit system, on-demand video or in-room DVD players
Show your website visitors what there is to do in the area – entice them to come and stay.
Guests can play the tours on their Smartphones and Tablets.
Take your clients on a tour of the neighborhood. Neighborhoods sells houses.
Show your clients what the community looks like.
Show your clients the quality schools and shopping centers.
Show your clients the nearby parks and recreational facilities.
Educate your clients about how their new community operates including HOA’s.
Automatic Virtual Tour
An Automatic Virtual Tour is for viewers who like to sit back and be taken on a guided tour. We take them on the guided tour that you want them to see while giving them the information that you think is important.
This is our entry-level type of Virtual Tour and there are many advantages:
- Easiest for the viewer to use and understand. All they have to do is click the play [ ► ] button and watch the show.
- Takes the viewer to the areas that you want them to see.
- Least expensive Virtual Tour.
- Can be viewed on different mediums (your own website, different types of video players like Flash or YouTube, a DVD, even a smart phone).
Pricing for a custom-designed Automatic Virtual Tour is based on the length of the finished tour (number of minutes of “play” time) plus any additional services. The minimum Automatic Virtual Tour is two (2) to four (4) minutes long and is priced at $600.
- Our labor for photographing your location. See Travel for more details.
- Basic map integration.
- Floor/site plan integration. See Maps and Site/Floor Plans for more details.
- Creation of your Virtual Tour.
- One type of finished product (display on your website, a YouTube video, a DVD, etc.).
As mentioned above, all Virtual Tours are custom-designed and there are many variables and options that can change the price of an Automatic Virtual Tour.
- Maps and Site/Floor Plans
- Aerial Photography
The final cost of your Automated Virtual Tour will ultimately depend on the features you choose. Please Contact Us with an e-mail so that we can schedule a phone interview with you. We can then discuss your needs and better understand how to create your Virtual Tour. We can also send you our current price sheet.
Let us develop an Automatic Virtual Tour for you!
An Interactive Virtual Tour is for viewers who like to be in the driver’s seat and take their own tour. The viewer has the ability to choose which sections of the Virtual Tour that they want to see by clicking on only the portions that interest them. This type of Virtual Tour is very useful if you have a large or multi-use location or have several locations.
The advantages of an Interactive Virtual Tour are:
- Viewer can be given more details about a location or feature.
- Allows the viewer to use their time efficiently by only spending time on what they are interested in.
Pricing for a custom-designed Interactive Virtual Tour is based on the amount of time that we spend to develop it. Included in the price are the same basic elements found in an Automatic Virtual Tour (see What’s Included) but an Interactive Virtual Tour has much more content.
This additional content requires that we first interview the appropriate people who can provide us with the necessary information and insight as to what you want included in your Virtual Tour. We can then create a Virtual Tour to suit your specific needs.
Interactive Virtual Tours also have the same Options as an Automatic Virtual Tour so the final cost will ultimately depend on the options you choose.
Interactive and Automatic Virtual Tours can also be combined depending on your situation (see Guest Ranch example). If you choose this option, then the price of each individual tour would be reduced because they would share common elements, like photography, that would be used in both Virtual Tours.
Please Contact Us with an e-mail so that we can schedule a phone interview with you. We can then discuss your needs and better understand how to create your Virtual Tour. We can also send you our current price sheet.
Let us develop an Interactive Virtual Tour for you!
The content of a website is something that most people don’t think much about but it is a critical factor for anyone who wants to have a successful website. All of our Virtual Tours include our skills at effective content development. We also offer those skills as a separate service to improve your existing website.
Content is not just about what the viewer sees on their screen. It also plays an important role in whether or not people find your website in the first place. This is why content development is so important.
Having good content is how you get people to come to your website. To accomplish this, we use the process of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when writing content for your Virtual Tour or your website. In this process, key words and phrases are integrated into the text so that it can be read by both the Internet search engines and your viewers. Having this behind-the-scenes knowledge is crucial to successfully bringing people to your website.
Now that you’ve got people coming to your website, you need to effectively communicate to them what you are all about. One of the best ways of communicating is with pictures and having an Automatic Virtual Tour gets their attention as well as giving them a sense of ‘being there”.
But you also want to give them clear and concise information about your location so effective wording is also very important. The better you can explain something, the better your visitors will understand and the more likely that the Internet search engines will find you. We bring all of these pieces together for you to produce effective content.
Now that you see how important high-quality content is, here are some ways of improving your content. We offer any combination of the following content development services for your website:
- Pictures - We can use photographs taken by us or use your existing photos to create animated GIF pictures (see example), photo collages, slideshows and other picture-related chores.
- Graphics - We can create maps (see example), site plans (see example), diagrams (see example), charts, floor plans, etc.
- Interactive maps - Using free services such as Google Maps, we can create customized maps so that your website visitors can easily access location-based information about your location. Google’s Street View service can also be included to see close-up views from ground level. See example…
- Flash™ movies - Used more and more on websites, we can develop short presentations that use the popular Adobe Flash™ engine to be shown on your website. See our Home page for an example.
- Written text - Sometimes the best way to get something across to people is by using the written word. We have many years of experience writing content that is designed to be clear and easy to read. We also have the ability to write from different perspectives.
Let us develop powerful and effective content for your website! Please Contact Us with an e-mail so that we can schedule a phone interview with you. We can then discuss and better understand your needs.
With any of our custom-designed Virtual Tours, there are a certain number and type of high-quality photographs required to create an effective product. Typically, we come to your location and take these photographs as part of the price of your Virtual Tour.
The photography piece of a Virtual Tour is flexible. For example, if you already have some or all of the high-quality photographs that we need, then the total price of your Virtual Tour will decrease. If you decide that you want to add special effects to some of the photographs (as described below), then the total price of your Virtual Tour will increase.
Once we have the photographs we need, they must be processed in “post production”. This is where we spend time to make the photographs look their best by enhancing the lighting on key subjects, applying color corrections, repositioning or cropping certain subjects and any other important adjustments.
It is here, in the post production-phase, where we can add special effects to individual photographs to make them a more artistic, fun or whimsical flare. These special effects can add more character and individuality to your Virtual Tour making it more interesting for your viewer. Upon your request, we will be happy to supply you with some examples.
This panorama of the Grand Canyon required 10 separate pictures to be stitched together
Panoramic photography is the process of taking several overlapping pictures in succession and then stitching them together with software. The result is the two 180º panoramic pictures seen above and below.
Panoramas are the perfect addition to a Virtual Tour because it shows much more depth and continuity of the subject being toured as opposed to a single picture or video. When we design your Virtual Tour, we will identify and consult with you on where panoramas should be used in the tour.
In a typical Virtual Tour that is played on YouTube, although the panoramic photo will cover a large field of view, only a portion of it is seen in the YouTube player, giving the viewer the sensation that they are watching a sweeping view of the subject.
This demonstrates how a video viewer, such as YouTube, will pan across a panoramic photo
|(click picture to see example)|
HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is the process of creating extremely vibrant, vivid photographs that almost leap off the screen.
Applying this process to certain key photographs throughout your Virtual Tour can add extra pizzazz and make your Virtual Tour even more interesting to the viewer. It can also solve the “high contrast” problem faced by any photographer who takes indoor photographs.
Taking a picture from inside a room that has sunlight coming in from a window is the most common example of a high contrast situation. For even the best of cameras, the light coming in from the window is extremely bright and makes it tricky for the camera to properly balance the overall lighting of the photograph. This, of course, does not create a very good photograph.
The solution is to create an HDR photograph. This is done by taking multiple photographs of the same scene at different camera settings (exposure levels). Then special software is used to combine the best of each of the photographs into one single, spectacular photograph. Click here to see an HDR photograph and the separate photographs that were used to create it.
Having one or more HDR photographs strategically placed throughout your Virtual Tour will add dramatic emphasis to the areas you want to showcase and really impressive your viewers. Creating HDR photographs will add to the total price of your Virtual Tour but think of the added WOW factor your Virtual Tour will have!
There is no better view of a property than one from the air. We have the resources to add aerial photographs of your property or facility into your Virtual Tour. You can choose from close-in shots (below 400 feet) or shots taken from a higher altitude (1,000 to 10,000 feet).
Aerial photography is different than the aerial imagery (or “satellite view”) that we use with the maps that are included in a Virtual Tour. Close-in aerial photographs are taken from a camera mounted on a remote-controlled helicopter and the higher elevation photographs are taken from a standard aircraft (helicopter or 4-seat airplane). See the Industrial Building Virtual Tour for pictures taken using the copter in the picture at right. See the Gov't Agency Virtual Tour to see the San Andreas Fault from 25,000 feet.
Pricing for this option will vary depending on the type of photographs wanted, the aircraft used and the location of the property. Scheduling for taking these photographs will depend on aircraft availability and the weather. Please Contact Us so that we can discuss a price and service that best fits your needs.
All of our Virtual Tours include the use of maps as a way of orientating the viewer to your location and are included in the price. They also include the use of a site or floor plan, if applicable to your location. Both of these features are necessary to create the feeling of “being there” for the viewer. The more orientated they are, the more “real” the Virtual Tour feels.
There are times, however, when additional maps are the best way to show the different sections of your location or showcase specific areas. For an example of a Virtual Tour with standard maps, see the Business Park Virtual Tour. For an example of how additional maps can enhance your Virtual Tour, see the Bulk Freight Facility Virtual Tour. Any additional maps will add to the total price of your Virtual Tour.
If your Virtual Tour takes the viewer into one or more buildings, then a good site or floor plan is also needed to help orientate the viewer. If you already have a quality site and/or floor plan that we can use, then we will use it. If not, we have the resources to provide you with one. Creating a site and/or floor plan will add to the total price of your Virtual Tour.
Below are some examples of site and floor plans. Click on the image to make it larger.
Artistic site plan
Animated map - see Regional Virtual Tour
Sample road trip tour map
Detailed but uninteresting floor plan
Aerial image used as a site plan
For Virtual Tours that promote a business, the demographics of an area can be very important. We have the tools to gather various demographical data and incorporate it into your Virtual Tour.
One of the best ways to present demographic information to a viewer is to integrate it with maps. This makes it easy for the viewer to visualize and understand the information and see how it relates to the location in the Virtual Tour. For an example of a Virtual Tour with demographics, see the Retail Shopping or Bulk Freight Facility Virtual Tours.
Here are just some of the demographics that we can add for you:
- Population density
- Average family income and spending habits
- Ethnic diversity
- Driving distance to key areas
- Traffic counts on major roads
- Area overlays showing drive time
- Nearby business and their locations
Including demographics in your Virtual Tour will add to the total price of if but it will also dramatically increase the impact it will have on your viewers. Let us gather the demographics that are important to you and add it to your Virtual Tour.
Below are examples of demographics that can be added to your Virtual Tours. Click on the image to make it larger.
Sometimes there is just no better way to explain something than to talk about it. Adding narration to your Virtual Tour can be especially helpful if you have a lot of information to give to your viewer.
The first step in adding narration is to write a script or storyboard. This storyboard needs to be in-sync with what is being seen visually on the Virtual Tour and can be written and/or narrated by you or by us. If you provide the script/storyboard, we will review it and advise you of any edits necessary before the recording is made. If we write the script/storyboard for you, we will first interview you to find out what you want to say and then show you a draft version of our storyboard before the recording is made.
Music can also be added to the Virtual Tour. Adding music to a Virtual Tour adds to the excitement of the tour's content. We can develop your Virtual Tour to include only music if there is no need to narrate or it can include both narration and music where the music's volume decreases when the narration occurs. For an example of where both narration and music is combined, watch the Regional or Print Shop Virtual Tours.
If your plans include having several Virtual Tours and/or other videos available to your viewers via the Internet, then you may want to consider setting up a YouTube channel.
A YouTube “channel” is a centralized place where you can organize and keep your videos, including the Virtual Tours we develop for you. The channels are free to anyone as long as the video content contains no copyrighted material.
Just like having good website content, having the proper wording in a video’s title and description is an important factor if you want your video to be found by the various Internet search engines. And, because YouTube is associated with Google, having your videos on one or more YouTube channels means that it will be found by even more Internet search engines.
We have setup dozens of YouTube channels and can provide you with both the setup and management of one or more channels as a separate service. Please Contact Us with an e-mail so that we can schedule a phone interview with you. We can then discuss and better understand your needs.
We have the flexibility to travel anywhere that you would like to have a Virtual Tour done. Our travel costs may already be included in the price of developing your tour or they may be added on to that price.
Determining our travel costs will depend on many factors. For example, the distance from our office to your Virtual Tour location or if we are doing any other Virtual Tours in that area at the same time.
If we anticipate any additional travel costs associated with your Virtual Tour project, we will provide you with an estimate of those costs when we discuss the scope of your Virtual Tour with you.
Included in the price of your Virtual Tour is our time to photograph your location. In order for us to take the best photographs and create the high-quality Virtual Tour you expect, there are some things you need to be aware of and preparations that you need to make prior to our visit.
Before we arrive, spend some time thinking about the layout or flow you want for your Virtual Tour. Think about any specific areas or important amenities that you want us to showcase in the tour.
Also be sure that all of the areas that you want us to photograph are clean and tidy before our arrival. Remember that your Virtual Tour will be seen by countless viewers so you want everything to look its best.
When we do arrive, we need to spend time with someone who knows what you want in your Virtual Tour, is familiar with your location and can provide us with access to all the necessary areas. We will want to learn all about your location and will ask lots of questions on our initial walk-through.
We will make suggestions as to how we think the Virtual Tour should flow and be taking notes that we can use later when we add captions or narration to point out important features.
Please use the following check-list to prepare for our visit to photograph your location.
- Grounds should be neat and free of any trash, debris or weeds
- Remove any posters or signs that you do not want included in your tour.
- Position any movable fixtures, such as furniture, in the way you want them to be seen in the tour.
- If you have scheduled grounds maintenance, like a gardener, you should consider scheduling our visit for the day after that service.
- Make sure that you do not have any maintenance scheduled for the day of our visit including utility repair, pest control, painting, gardener, etc.
- Make sure all rooms, offices, desks and counters are clean and neat including floors and windows.
- Position any fixtures or furniture in the way you want them to be seen in the tour and remove any objects that you do not want included.
- If you have scheduled cleaning or maid service, you should consider scheduling our visit for as soon after that service as possible.
- Make sure that all of the interior lights are working. Photographing a room with as much light as possible adds highlighting.
- Identify areas that will have sunlight coming in through the windows and at what time of the day this occurs. These areas may require an HDR photograph.
- A sunny or partly-cloudy day provides optimal lighting to photograph your location. If the weather forecast for the day of our visit calls for overcast or dark skies, we will try to reschedule.
- It is also better not to photograph in windy conditions as this will often make exterior photographs blurry. If the weather forecast for the day of our visit calls for high winds, we may try to reschedule.
- To best determine what time of day to schedule our visit, we will first discuss with you which exterior scenes you want in your Virtual Tour and then look at your location with available aerial imagery to see when the best lighting will occur.
It is important that your location look its best on the day that we come out to photograph it. If, for some reason, we have to make a second trip to your location to re-shoot any of the photographs, the extra labor and travel involved will add to the total price of your Virtual Tour. If we have to exchange any photographs in a Virtual Tour, this will also add to the total price of your Virtual Tour.