Last sunday, while I was on the slope, I attended to the capture of a panoramic landscape for CRRCsim by Joël Liénard who is a major contributor for this great simulator, especially for F3F pilots.
Joël uses a compact digital camera mounted on an semi-automated pole. The camera is mounted on a wood frame articulated and moved by a standard size servo, piloted by a microcontroller and a basic program with temporisation between each picture. For each angle position, he takes several pictures in the vertical plan, then manually move to the next angle and so on until having the 360° panorama with overlaps between pictures.
Then Joël proceed to a second 360° capture, but higher, in order to create a sort of vertical stereoscopy allowing him to calculate distances. The whole operation takes about 30 minutes between the installation of the device, and the operation itself.
But the main work is still coming with the assembly of the numerous pictures, then the mapping with the "geographical" map with altitude curves information. I cannot imagine how many hours Joël needs to do this, but I can tell you that the result is just unbelievable.
Joël released already few landscapes for CRRCsim that you can download on his website: http://joel.lienard.free.fr/crrcsim/
Here is a small video taken during the shooting session: