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The Margaret Bright Gallery of Class Dolls


Summary | Software | Equipment | Procedure | Images | Acknowledgements

Following is a description of the Meredith College Archives project which created 360 degree images of the Meredith class dolls. It is offered as an aid to others who may wish to try their own VR projects.


Part 1 (2006): The general term for 360 degree images is virtual reality. For the doll project, 36 images of each doll were created with a digital camera and downloaded to a PC. Virtual reality (VR) software is used to "stitch" the images together into a VR object. The object is resized and converted into a Quicktime movie. The movie is then inserted into a web page.

Part 2 (2014): In 2014 the site moved to a new platform (Amazon Web Services S3, Simple Storage Service). We abandoned Quicktime technology for a newer one, which is typically used to display 360 degree images on retail sites such as eBay. We selected WebRotate 360 Product Viewer. Rather than using large Quicktime movie files that require users to download the very large Apple Quicktime/iTunes plug-in, WebRotate 260 works entirely in the browser.

Software (2006)

  • VR creation software -- VR Worx.
  • Web editor -- Dreamweaver MX.
  • Photo editing software -- Photo editing software played a minor role in this project. The images making up the objects were not edited. Since there are 36 images in each object, editing would be very time consuming. We used Photoshop only for resizing single images to use as thumbnails on the final web pages.


Equipment (2006)

Doll Project setup

1. Digital camera (2006). Sony DSC F717 Cybershot 5.0 megapixel. Cameras used in VR projects must have:

  • Zoom/wide angle capability
  • Remote shutter release -- The pressure of a finger on the shutter button can inadvertently move the camera, making the object jump in the final movie.
  • Manual and automatic exposure modes -- Automatic exposure is used to determine initial aperture and shutter settings. The actual photography is done in manual mode to guard against the camera changing settings in the middle of a 36 exposure sequence.
  • Memory adequate to store 36 three to four megabyte images. Our camera had a **** megabyte memory stick.
  • USB cable for transferring images to a PC.

2. Tripod (2006) -- The tripod does not have to be of high quality, as it remains in one position throughout shooting.

3. Turntable (2006) -- Turntables specifically designed for VR projects are available. The Kaidan Pixi manual turntable is no longer available; Arqspin is a current turntable manufacturer. Any turntable can be used as long as it can be rotated in precise 10 degree increments.

4. Lights (2006) -- Two reflective umbrella lights. Photographic lighting is essential to maintain stable lighting conditions.

5. Backdrop (2006) -- 56 inch wide black velvet, textured gray simulated leather, and other materials purchased from fabric stores and Home Depot. As with any professional-looking photography, a suitable backdrop is essential.

6. Computer (2006) -- Gateway PC with 2 megabytes of RAM. The only PC characteristics required for this project were adequate RAM for the VR Worx software, and an internet connection or RW CD-drive for transferring images to the server where the web pages reside and downloading the Quicktime plug-in from the Apple Computer web site.

7. Web server (2006) -- The server is used for hosting the final web pages. Two gigabytes of storage were required.


Procedure (2006)

Photography session

1. A vacant room in the Meredith College library was used for the project. Windows were covered with black 56-inch wide paper to eliminate variations in light conditions.

2. An assortment of backdrops was used because the dolls had a wide variety of coloring. Black velvet was effective for creating a solid black background. It was not satisfactory for dolls that had black hair or clothing. In those cases the brown or gray backdrop was used. The brown and gray backdrops presented some lighting problems. Because the dolls are irregularly shaped, as they were rotated they reflected different amounts of light onto the backdrop. This often caused small variations in the brightness and color of the background, which were not possible to eliminate.

3. The dolls were placed on the Kaidan turntable. They were lit by lights set 45 degrees to the left and right of the camera. The lights were softened by reflective umbrellas.

4. Several test shots were made and downloaded to the PC to establish correct lighting conditions.

5. 36 images of the doll were then taken. One person moved the turntable while another took the pictures. With a remote shutter release it is possible for the photography to be done by one person, however. Once shooting began on each doll it took only about 3 minutes to take the 36 shots.

6. The images were then downloaded to the PC via the USB port.

7. VR Worx software was used to create the QT movie. The basic steps are:

  1. 36 images were selected on the Acquire Tab.
  2. The images were cropped on the Special Effects Tab. Other special effects include centering the images.
  3. The images were stitched together on the Compose Tab.
  4. On the Preview tab, the final window size was established, an initial frame was set, the object was saved as a VR Worx object, and a Quicktime movie object was created.

8. Photoshop was used to create a thumbnail image for the web.

9. Dreamweaver was used to create a web page for the QT doll movie. Important considerations for the web page include:

  • It is recommended that the movie be included twice, once with the OBJECT tag and once with the EMBED tag.
  • The parameter SCALE = TO FIT is useful for assuring that when images are large the entire image is displayed in the QT window
  • The parameter CONTROLLER = TRUE is required to display the zoom and drag controls for the image. With this parameter it is also necessary to increase the height of the QT object window by 16 pixels (the size of the controller bar).
  • Here is an example of the basic html for inserting an object movie. The OBJECT CLASSID parameter, OBJECT CODEBASE parameter, and EMBED PLUGINSPAGE parameter are identical for all incidences of QT movie objects. That is, they can be copied exactly as in this example.
  • <p>
    <OBJECT CLASSID="clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B" height="496" width="360" CODEBASE="">
          <param name="SRC" value="../">
          <param name="CONTROLLER" value="TRUE">
          <param name="CACHE" value="FALSE">
          <param name="SCALE" value="TOFIT">
       <EMBED SRC="../" WIDTH=360 HEIGHT=496

  • Users who click on a movie link will be prompted to download the Quicktime plug-in from Apple Computer if it is not already on their computer. Apple has "thoughtfully" bundled Quicktime with I-Tunes, and users cannot download one without the other. The requirement to download I-Tunes may be off-putting to some users, but there is no other way to get Quicktime.
  • Users with Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed will see a number of yellow security bars when they download Quicktime and also when they view the QT movies. The bars caution users about downloading active content. This may dissuade some users from viewing the movies. For this reason we addressed the security issues in a prominently displayed "Important Information" link on the web site.
  • The large size of the final QT movie files (about 2.5 meg) makes it impractical for dial-up users to view them. No attempt was made for the web pages to accommodate dial-up users.


Image characteristics

  • The 36 images were photographed with the camera resolution set to "fine."
  • The 36 images were in JPEG format. VR Worx can create VR objects from many formats.
  • The 36 images were initially shot in landscape orientation, 960 height by 1280 width.
  • The 36 images were cropped to 960 pixels high by 720 pixels wide under the VR Worx Compose tab.
  • The final object window was set at 480 pixels high by 360 pixels wide. That is, the object was still 960 x 720, but it appeared as a 480 x 360 image on the web page. Users could then use the QT zoom feature to view parts of the doll in close-up. Having the SCALE=ToFit parameter in the html enabled the entire 960 x 720 image to appear in the 480 x 360 window.
  • The size of each final movie was 2.5 to 4 megabytes. Backdrops with more texture resulted in larger files.



The virtual reality doll project was supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the federal Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina.

Project Director: Ted Waller, Carlyle Campbell Library, Meredith College

Photographer: Charlene Johnston, Meredith College Class of 2005.

Other Project Assistance: Martha Fonville, Carlyle Campbell Library, Meredith College.