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What systems are available to automaticly aquire a full environment HDR image on set?

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What commercial or homebrew systems are available to generate a full hdri environment map on set? Often there is not much time to acquire the data, so a system which automatically takes lots of pictures at different exposures and ideally stitches them together / combines them into an hdri for later editing would be great. Does anyone have good suggestions?

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3 answers


dan bethell [ Editor ]

The main system I know of is HDR-Cam.

It gives good pre-stitched HDR environments. Occasionally the procedural stitching is not 100% but for IBL and general environment work I thought the images were great. I don't have experience with it on-set and apparently early models were quite bulky, but the images on the website look quite practical. Little more than a box on a tripod. The website quotes capture times at "about 30 seconds".

You might also want to look at SpheroCam.

I don't have any experience with SpheroCam images but I know it gets some use. Apparently it does the same thing; pre-stitched HDRI. Speed-wise the website says between 60 seconds and 30 minutes, which would make it difficult (and unpredictable) to use on-set.

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hugh_gid [ Editor ]

It's not automatic, but I've been looking at the to give a truly nodal system for stills. It has clicks on the pan and tilt to allow you to easily hit angles.

If you were going to do 6 exposures per angle (2 x 3 brackets), at 4 angles (I would do 3 around, 120 degrees between each, all looking slightly downwards, and then one looking vertically upwards), I think you'd be looking at less than 10 seconds per angle (assuming a possible longest exposure of 2 seconds), and with the clicks, no more than 2 seconds to change angles. So you could get the whole thing in certainly less than a minute.

It doesn't really answer your question, I know, but I thought I'd chuck it out there.

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freds [ Editor ]

We have a Canon EOS 5D mk1 and the Utility software to trigger with a laptop seems a bit limited. Has anyone written any applications of their own to trigger hdr batches? Is there a 'sdk' for these cameras?

cheers fred

NN comments

onOne have a tool called DSLR Remote which allows you to control your DSLR via your iPhone. It does require the camera’s own software to be running on the connected laptop, but it also gets the LiveView feed (where available). I’m guessing that they interfaced with the software rather than directly with the camera, but that’s certainly an option. Tie that in with a servo on the tripod head, and you’re sorted! :D


That’s a great tip Hugh! That looks very promising, I’d love to try that out. Now I only need to buy an iPhone! :D

carsten kolve

both canon and nikon have a free developers sdk (which can be found on their website) – however access to it is limited by pre-approval.

also there is a nintendo ds controller out there for controlling canon cameras which looks fun – have a look at this site for an overview


Canon’s SDK is horrible: under documented (one badly written PDF), there’s almost no community (they have a forum, for which no one has write access to..), their signup/application page only works in IE (and fails silently under IE), and SDK is quite limited..

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