VIEW FROM THE TOP – this 360-degree panoramic view from the top of Mount Pulag, the country’s third highest peak, is only one of the many virtual reality photos featured in the 360° Island Philippines travel app. (Photo by Rommel Bundalian)
MANILA, Philippines — Imagine having the breathtaking view of Mount Pulag summit, or the scenic Pearl Farm Resort on Samal Island, right at your finger tips.
Probably one of the coolest applications that have come to iTunes is 360° Island Philippines. And it is proudly Filipino-made!
This app provides users with breathtaking panoramic views of the Philippines’ top spots on a virtual reality platform. It presents a unique perspective of the country’s tourist destinations – all in 360 degrees just by moving your finger around your iPhone, iTouch or iPad. the best thing of all is that the app is free.
So one may virtually explore the Kapurpurawan rock formations in Ilocos Norte; the Rockies at Mt. Maculot in Batangas City; wild water rafting adventure in Davao City; the ZipCity adventure in Davao; and Capones Island in Zambales – places that are not seen in the usual tourism campaigns.
The app also provides links to corresponding local government websites where one can get the how-to’s, and accurate information about the place for ones travel needs.
“the app has a wonderful story to tell about many amazing sites and it virtually allows you to walk through each and every location, as if you were there. It’s as close to reality as one gets. the photos were carefully chosen, so it’s like going to a more adventurous and picturesque route,” says photographer and app developer Rommel Bundalian.
APP AS ART
Since it was launched early last year, the app has been consistently on the top 10 most downloaded apps in the country.
“Developing the app didn’t take too long given that I had a wealth of materials to choose from. I was fortunately helped by a couple of friends who share my passion in photography and app work. we made a storyboard of the things that we wanted to include, the things we wanted to highlight and imagined ourselves as the user. the idea really was to allow the user to ‘travel’ with us,” says Rommel, an avid traveler and mountaineer.
Rommel hopes to upgrade the app by next month, and at the same time launch a paid version where there will be more 360-degree renditions.
“My work as a photographer has brought me to so many wonderful places, which unfortunately, others have yet to see and appreciate. the travel app allows me to showcase these amazing places in an easy to use and accessible way. Instead of emailing photos, all they need to do is download the app and the pictures are right there for a quick appreciation. It gives me another reason to feel fulfilled as an artist,” he explains.
Much like photography, Rommel also considers app development as an art and it takes experience to develop the right eye for apps. “It’s not mere techie know-how. You must have a strong feel of what people want at a particular time. the app developer must know what people want and what they will need in the future. So you have to be exposed to market trends and the most current innovations. App making should be a passion if you want to turn it into a lucrative profession. You have to dedicate hours and hours of study,” he adds.
Aside from his photography studio, 360 Unlimited Arts & Photography Studio, Rommel has collaborated with friends in putting up Imageworkz, which focuses in creating digital apps and magazines.
Rommel’s interest in 360-degree virtual reality (VR) photography started in 2006 when he was traveling in Europe and saw images of 360-degree VR photography exhibit in Paris. “I found the ability of the photographer to make still photography come alive and navigable fascinating. So I bought and studied books on the subject, procured the basic equipment, then started playing around with a few photographs,” he relates.
His dream assignment is doing a 360-degree VR photography of an underwater location like the Tubbataha Reef, a U.N. Heritage Site in Palawan.
“I find that 360-degree photography broadens my view of subjects because it requires a more holistic view and a higher attention to detail in selecting shots. in regular photography, I am limited by the four corners of the frame. While in 360-degree photography, my frame is a sphere,” he ends.
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AttachmentSize VIEW FROM THE TOP – this 360-degree panoramic view from the top of Mount Pulag, the country’s third highest peak, is only one of the many virtual reality photos featured in the 360° Island Philippines travel app. (Photo by Rommel Bundalian)9.31 KB