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The Guide to the 360 Degree Photography Footwear Kit

Snap36 was founded on the idea of improving the digital customer experience for footwear. Shoes are an essential part of every wardrobe, and for a multitude of reasons we all own several pairs. There are flip flops for the summer, dress shoes for work and events, and sneakers for leisure activities. Not to mention outdoor and sports activities where you may need everything from hiking boots to soccer cleats!  

When shopping online, shoe photography must capture and display all of the pertinent product details and information – from the quality of the leather to the sharpness of the cleats. Using 360 degree spin photography is the best way to fully showcase these details online. The ability for consumers to virtually hold a product in their hands has many proven, positive effects and should be strongly considered as part of your digital strategy. In this post I’ll explain what a 360 Degree Footwear Kit is, how it is used today, and provide some best practices.

What is 360 the Degree Footwear Kit?

The 360 Degree Photography Footwear Kit is a multi-camera setup that is paired with industry leading photography equipment and Photorobot hardware. Three high resolution Canon cameras are mounted above the PhotoRobot Narrow Glass Table on the MultiCam Bow, which allows for image precise capture at multiple angles in record time. A single rotation of the glass plate at 24 images around, or every 15 degrees, results in 72 angles of a shoe due to the precise triggering of the multiple cameras and strobes. Instead of having to repeat the rotation each time the camera moves over the product, this system captures three images at each stop. 

For example, we might capture a 3 by 24 spin at 7°, 35° and 65° over the shoe. Normally with an Arm, this might take 3+ minutes, but the MultiCam will complete the cycle in less than one minute. Hardware and image capture are one thing, but having a solid workflow to manage hundreds to thousands of images created is a huge part of this process. Without this you could be stuck spending more time organizing the images than photographing them. SpinMe and Controls are two of the solid workflows solutions that work seamlessly with the kit depending on your needs. Throughput is as important as image quality in today’s fast paced e-commerce studios.

Benefits of Using 360 Degree Photography

To stay alive in this competitive market, retailers need to give the best visual product presentation possible–one capable of replicating the in-store experience. By using the 360 Degree Footwear Kit, sellers will provide a more consistent user experience on both its own website, as well as other channels they sell through. 

Seven or eight images of footwear is good, but you can’t beat an entire 360° view of a sneaker on your phone or tablet. With a drag of your finger you can spin it up, down, side to side and zoom in on whatever detail interests you. The ability to control this experience has been proven to increase conversions, reduce returns, and increase the amount of time spent on sellers websites. There’s no surprise when the customer opens the box, they receive exactly what they saw online. 360° & 3D spin photography provides transparency and visual detail necessary to increase trust, build brand loyalty, and ultimately increase conversions and revenue.

What Pieces Make a Footwear Kit?

Multicam

The MultiCam consists of a structural arch or bow that extends from the front of the table to the upper structure allowing multiple cameras to be attached at various angles in 7 degree increments ranging from 0 to 90 degrees. The entire arch also raises and lowers with commands from then workflow software to based on a product’s height. All this allows for multiple overhead camera and angles to be captured in a single rotation of the table, cutting production time by two thirds or more.

Broncolor Lights With Chimera Softboxes

Broncolor strobes are known for their color accuracy and consistent output which are important factors accurately presenting products online. The fact that a deep depth of field is required to keep everything in focus for spin photography, means we need a lot of light to a lot of light to illuminate the products. Chimera softboxes evenly distribute the light so all the product details are well defined through the spin presentation.

Camera Sync Box

This device pairs with the MultiCam allowing multiple cameras to trigger at the precise moment that the strobes fire. The flash duration of a strobe may be as fast 1/1600 seconds so getting the shutter open on three to four cameras at once can be tricky. A web interface and camera specific millisecond adjustable sliders give the use the ultimate control over order and exact time each camera shutter will open.

3 Canon 5DIV with 24-105

This camera has become a workhorse of many commercial photography studios due it sturdy construction and 30 megapixel CMOS sensor. The pixel count allows for a deep level of zoom giving the customer the ability to see details right down to the stitching on a pair shoes. The 24-105 zoom lens allows us to make quick changes depending on product size changes.

Narrow Glass Table

The PhotoRobot Narrow Glass Table is made up of a 850mm tempered glass plate that rotates to any point within 360 degrees and is driven by a computer controlled stepper motor. This combined with an encoder wheel, which is reading back the glass’ position allows for a very quick and accurate movement. That way, 24 images around, or every 15 degrees, can be captured in under 1 min.

5 Tips for Setting Up a Footwear Kit for Product Photography

Space

Space considerations to accommodate 360 photography are key. You need enough real estate for the machine, lighting, and computer workstation with room for a photographer to move around freely and make adjustments. An area for product preparation and temporary storage is also necessary, which is oftentimes larger than the space allocated for the unit itself. Solid, level floors – preferably concrete – will ensure the system will operate correctly and hold calibrations.

Electrical

While the 360 degree photography turntable does not draw much power on its own, the combination of the table strobe lights, cameras, and computers can add up. Four 20a 115v circuits will ensure that production can run day in and day out without issue.

Environment

A clean, climate-controlled environment is ideal. Photographing products in fine detail requires them to be spotless, and a dusty or dirty environment only means extra steps for photographers which will slow down productivity. Also, heat is the enemy of electronics and strobe lights, so while equipment can operate in uncontrolled warehouse environments, it is an inadequate scenario.

Proximity

While products can be shipped to the studio location, quite often it makes sense to install the photography station in close proximity to the products. The logistics of packing and shipping thousands of products over time can outweigh the cost of retrofitting a space in a distribution center to work as a satellite studio.

Network Access

The 360 degree footwear kit communicates with the computer controlling it and the camera through a traditional computer network or LAN. This method allows for multiple systems to be installed and managed easily by an IT team. Through proper network protocols, the units will also be granted internet access which is necessary for firmware updates and allowing the workflow tool to deliver the final images.

Elevate the Digital Experience

Photography has always been the best way to inform footwear customers about a product and nothing has changed in that regard. A 360 degree image of shoes acts as though the product is in front of the customer, educating them about what it is, what it does, and how it works. This solution will help elevate the digital experience by adding a higher level of product detail and interaction not historically available. 

If you’d like to learn more, we invite you to visit our Chicago studio for a live demo of our 360 Degree Photography Footwear Kit!



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