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Apollonius
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

02 Jan 2017 11:25

First things first, Space Engine can export any scene as a 360 cubic panorama, or one made from 6 square cube facets. All you need to do in order to do that is to find a good scene in Space Engine, line up the horizon line (if there is one) by hitting the "1" key on the keypad, then hit "esc" to pull up the main program menu. From here, select "edit", and then select "Export sky box".

You will likely want to export these images as PNG files to reduce quality loss. You can also double the size from 1024 x 1024 to 2048 x 2048, but don't resize to anything but a 100% increase each time, or the export will fail. This will take a while, so be patient. Do not hit "stop", until the "export" button is no longer greyed out. Once those 6 images are complete, you will likely have to edit them in an image editor like Paint Shop, Photoshop, or Gimp. You will likely want to boost the color brightness/contrast by about 25/30, and the color saturation by about 40%, to get nearly the same thing you're seeing in the program. You won't be seeing things like bloom, lens flare, ambient brightness, etc. that are after effects, and not represented in 360 renderings, sadly.

Find these 6 images in your program directory, in the "Export" folder, and put them into your image editor so that they line up correctly. What's directly in front of you should be "Z", but it likely won't be. Decide what's "front", and then rename the files to match that. You may have to rotate the top and bottom to match the shift in "front" orientation, just rotate them in opposite directions. When they all line up properly, they should look like this:

Image

Now rename the center square "front", and do likewise for the left, right, back, up, and down cube facets.

Now we need to turn those 6 cube faces into one image, so grab this program. It has an unlimited demo period, and watermarks the results, but since we're just transferring one data type to another one, it's free, and there's no watermark. Just open it, hit the "select input" button, select "cube faces" as the input type, and input each cube face that you just edited and renamed. Once this is done, hit "OK". Now, 2 buttons down from where you selected the input type, select "Convert Input". Select "equirectangular" (should be the default), select the output type, and hit "Convert".

Now your panorama should look like this:

Image

Once you have achieved that, open it in this 360 panorama viewer.

All done!

Now let's see yours!
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

21 Feb 2017 19:09

The built-in Skybox editor and exporter with SE is very difficult to use, but the Pano2VR5 program is impossible to use, so I just stitched these together in Photoshop. It works well with my VR viewer on my phone, but without a top or bottom it is only a 360 degree panorama.

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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

24 Feb 2017 14:05

I figured out I had to press the "Try Pro version" button rather than use it in trial mode to be able to use more than 4 nodes. So I made this panorama of TRAPPIST-1f.

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Apollonius
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

03 Mar 2017 11:14

Ah, that explains why you said it was "impossible". :p

I never messed with nodes, or with the pro version, I just input 6 cube facets, and covert the input to equirectangular format, just like I stated in my OP. I also noticed that you are yet another victim of Space Engine's export skybox bug. Your "up" and "down" cubefaces are both turned 90° to the left and right, respectively.

Still, nice work, and interesting view!
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

03 Mar 2017 12:34

Why not simply use the 'Cylindrical' projection mode?
scr00394.jpg
 
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Apollonius
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

04 Mar 2017 03:34

SpaceEngineer wrote:
Why not simply use the 'Cylindrical' projection mode?
scr00394.jpg

Because in order to get the proper resolution in a 360 panorama, you would literally have to set your screen resonlution to over 6,000 pixels in width, and a lot of people's graphics can barely handle Space Engine at normal fullscreen resolution.
Last edited by Apollonius on 15 Mar 2017 15:59, edited 1 time in total.
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

06 Mar 2017 02:36

Yeah, cylindrical is pretty easy, too easy.

I wanted to make things hard on myself so I decided to try a Panorama with the 3D Anaglyph settings turned on. I knew the sky-boxes and cylindrical methods were not possible with this setting turned on, so I had to take around 40 screen shots and stitch them together and came up with this -

Image

These are the cell phone apps I used:
Bimostitch Panorama Stitcher
360 ° VR Photos - Social
VaR's VR Player PRO

In an attempt to add a little more depth, I wanted to combine a VR cardboard headset with anaglyph glasses and stumbled across this simple video. Now I can put on my VR head-set and have a 3D 360 degree view of my favorite places in Space Engine where ever I go!
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

15 May 2017 14:11

Gave this a try, but I'm still getting the watermark on the image. Tried looking for other free tools, but I can't seem to find any. Ended up trying to download one of the commercial programs through TPB, but I was unable to stitch the images. Something about requiring control points to help the program identify where the images overlap. I don't think these images from SE overlap, so I tried setting those points to the corners of the relevant images. The results were horrendous.

Any other alternatives?

EDIT: Other programs are asking for the horizontal field of view, focal length, crop factor, or a combination of them. No idea what any of them even mean or refer to.
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

15 May 2017 16:40

Another method is to take screenshots of the whole scene and stitch them together using Hugin

Cons:  A little more time consuming.
Pros:  Free software, variety of projection modes, very high resolution output, no water marks.
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

15 May 2017 17:35

Watsisname, been looking for some decent software for such things, good recommendation.
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

15 May 2017 23:44

Gnargenox wrote:
Now I can put on my VR head-set and have a 3D 360 degree view of my favorite places in Space Engine where ever I go!

If SE could be streamed to your mobile phone and you could control direction with it, it would be a low-price VR mode! Unfortunately I can't do any of those things  :roll:
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hiigaran
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

16 May 2017 11:27

Watsisname wrote:
Another method is to take screenshots of the whole scene and stitch them together using Hugin

Cons:  A little more time consuming.
Pros:  Free software, variety of projection modes, very high resolution output, no water marks.

Lots of options, but I have no idea what to do with them. I don't know the lens type of the input images, and I can't get the control points to work.

EDIT: Yeah, just places the images into an image editor. There are no overlapping parts of the images, so I can't make any control points. And if I try to set the control points to the corners of each image, I get an error.
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

16 May 2017 22:00

With Hugin, the screenshots would need to be taken such that they have overlaps.  Control points represent the same location on a pair of images, and this is what allows the software to calculate how to connect the images and stitch them together.  I try to get about a 1/4 screen-width overlap between the screenshots.

When it asks for the lens data, use normal (rectilinear) and enter the horizontal FOV (in degrees) that you took the screenshots in from Space Engine.

The control-point finding algorithms are pretty smart and usually figure out appropriate control points, but sometimes you may have to pick them manually, such as if there are large regions without a lot of detail.  Starfields can also confuse it.   If you do them manually, 3 or 4 control points per connected image pair is usually sufficient to get a good alignment.  If you have the software choose them, check the distances afterward to make sure they are accurate and delete any outliers.

I might write up a more thorough, illustrated tutorial later if I find the time, but for now hopefully that helps.

Added:  Here's an example of what Hugin can do with Space Engine.  At the time I only had a 1024x768 monitor, so this was quite a few screenshots being combined.

► Show Spoiler


And a "little planet" projection: :)

► Show Spoiler
 
hiigaran
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

17 May 2017 02:56

But when you're exporting the images via SE, there is no option for overlap, or for HFOV. You just have the resolution. For the latter, I assume FOV will be what you set in your main settings, but I can't see a way to force an overlap of images with the built in exporter.

EDIT: So apparently the FOV info is supposed to be in the lower right with the magnitude, but I can't get the menu to open when I move my mouse over to the edge.

EDIT2: Ended up opening the .cfg files to look for FOV information. Default seems to be 45, and I've never touched FOV, so I'll assume that will be it.

EDIT3: Okay, I've managed to get things working with the stitching. Now I've ignored a couple of earlier issues with quality as I just wanted to see if I can get any kind of result. The image I was trying to make was from halfway out from a galaxy's center, facing inwards. Without editing, and going straight to stitching, I get this. Far from what you see in SE, of course. Adjusting saturation and contrast gives better colours, but still not what I would like to see. I assume this is the limitation talked about in the original post with regards to a lack of bloom and other postprocessing effects.

So the question is, what stops me from taking a screenshot of each of the six sides myself? The obvious challenge is getting the camera to rotate exactly 90 degrees in each direction. Perhaps there is an easier way to do it?

But even then, your results look infinitely better than what I got. Why is that? Resolution was 4096 on the export.

I've also noticed that some of the exported images are just completely black. As if they failed to export.
 
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How to make 360° panoramas in Space Engine

17 May 2017 17:31

This is awesome! I'll give Hugin a whirl in the next day or two and give any feedback I can.

I wonder if since I can cast my phone display to my TV, that I could reverse that and cast my TV to my phone through bluetooth and some app. Something else I'll look into.
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