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Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry Virtual Tour by Caoimhin Watts
Press on the image (above) to start the virtual tour


360° virtual tour of The Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry in Livingston, West Lothian. Take a step back in time to when Scotland’s booming shale oil industry was world leading in scale and innovation. Stroll through this interactive augmented reality experience and learn about the culture and heritage which emerged around the Scottish Shale Oil Industry.

The museum is housed within the Almond Valley Heritage Centre at Millfield in Livingston and is well worth a visit.



Images used within the tour are the property of The Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry. Please visit the museum to see more or check out their new web site (link above).


Compatible with most VR headsets
VR Compatible
Responsive and useable on any device
Responsive to any screen size
With 'Live Guided Tour' functionality
‘Live Guided Tour’ functionality

I created this virtual museum tour to be included as a feature in the up coming Scottish Shale website which is nearing completion after several years in the making. I included ‘Live Guided Tour’ functionality in this tour which enables the host to interact with users via live video and audio links from inside the tour itself. Users can either wander around and interact with exhibits independently, or be guided through the 360° virtual tour by the host. This tour can be viewed on any device and is also compatible with most VR headsets. (Oculus, Oculus Go, Vive, Gear VR, VR Box etc).


Tools image

I shot the panoramas for each exhibit in variable resolutions from 7K to 16K depending on the environment. A variety of cameras and lenses were used in making this 360° virtual tour. (Canon 77D DSLR mounted on a nodal, zero parallax head using an ultra wide angle lens [Canon 10-18mm]. I also used the Zeta Z1 360 Camera with duel fish eye lenses mounted on a Bushman panoramic monopod.) Audio Equipment – Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone with Cloud Lifter in conjunction with Zoom L12 Live Track Audio Interface. A lot of processing power was needed for the Ai process and for combining hundreds of large HDR images. For this, the computer spec used was – Intel i9 X Series Processor, 64GB 4200 RAM with a NVidea GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. It still crashed out a good few times!


Design Process imagery

The museum is very atmospheric and the high contrast lighting was a challenge to shoot a 360° Virtual Tourin. I used bracketed HDR photography to ensure each space was captured as the eye would see it. Because of this the user experience is very immersive and an even exposure of each space could be achieved. In the same way, the high definition audio I created for some of the exhibits really adds to the experience. The sound treatment was created using Pro Tools software. I used Adobe After Effects together with Avid Media Composer and Adobe Media Encoder to produce the video exhibits for the tour.

Panoramic image for 360° Virtual Tour. © 2021 CAOIMHIN WATTS
Panoramic image for 360° Virtual Tour © 2021 CAOIMHIN WATTS

A 360° panorama has to wrap and fit the inside of a sphere while retaining an equirectangular format. As a result the 2D image used to make the panorama is distorted, especially around the zenith and nadir. It makes for some interesting abstract shots (see above). I stitched and edited the panoramic shots using PTGUI Pro software and the Theta Lightroom plug-in. Using 3DVista Pro to create the tour itself meant I could produce an absolute url and so host the tour myself without the need to rely on 3rd party companies. When very high detail was needed (in the map room, for example), I used Topaz Labs software to further improve image quality. I also used this process for creating digital images for archiving.


Boghead Map Extract (MOTSSOI) by Caoimhin Watts
Boghead map extract (exhibited at the Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry).

Some of the maps on display were installed and framed behind glass before digitisation. Some are very fragile because of their age and can’t be removed from their frames easily. The reflection of lights on the glass covering the maps made it impossible to photograph these without losing detail. To overcome this I used AI software (Gigapixel AI from Topaz Labs) together with HDR photography (which I colour-corrected in Adobe Lightroom), to create high quality digitised versions which are free from reflection and noise and are high resolution. These new image files have been added to the museum server for archiving, which is great! There’s still nothing like seeing these maps in real life at the museum! That being said, I think these digitised versions definitely have a use and will enable people to see the maps in a different light, quite literally.

Mineral lease map from the Quarry Exhibit at the Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry.
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Thanks for using this virtual tour and I hope you enjoy it!

I hope you enjoy checking out this virtual museum tour and also manage to find out more about your local heritage at the same time. I’ve spent quite a while creating this tour, and to be honest it’s still a work in progress. It has a few additions still to be added and a few things here and there to be tweaked. But, it’s nearly there. Also, if you like the tour, maybe you could give it a wee share or like or comment.

Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry Virtual Tour by Caoimhin Watts

Check out some other related posts and pages from my site.

Copyright Caoimhin Watts 2021

If you liked this 360° museum tour and want to find out more about pricing and availability, email me: contact@watts.scot