“Orbit 360 is a unique spin on the studio,” said Albert DiPadova, the company’s founder, sitting in the Santa Barbara floorspace where that “unique”-ness happens. He wasn’t just being figurative, either — that “spin” is literal.
In business for about a year, Orbit 360 elevates the traditional photo-viewing experience online from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, taking 3-D pictures of products for companies (many of them online retailers) that want their clients to experience the products from all angles. While many online retailers provide customers with a series of photos depicting a product’s different sides, companies that employ the services of Orbit 360 allow their customers to see all of the product — all at once — by spinning it virtually.
“That’s the secret sauce,” said DiPadova of the computer code that creates the spinning. “That’s when the magic happens.”
Before that can happen, though, DiPadova and his team (which includes a manager, three staff photographers, and many interns from Brooks Institute) place the item to be photographed on a computer turntable and take pictures from all sides. To complete the process, every angle captured is then digitally “stitched” together.
Although there are about six other companies in the country that provide the same service, said DiPadova, what really sets Orbit 360 apart from the competition is its compatibility with iPads and iPhones, making it easier for people to check out products on-the-go. As a result of that availability, Orbit 360 has so far enjoyed a wide range of clients, locals and out-of-towners alike.
The company has taken 3-D pictures of, among other things, breast implants, Spalding volleyballs, and Dyson vacuums.
Deeming it one of the coolest projects he’s ever worked on, DiPadova was particularly proud of the end result of a pair of fishing boots that the company photographed for Ventura-based clothing retailer Patagonia. In addition to making the boots spin, Orbit 360 showed the boots in the mud with miniaturized people climbing on them.
Being able to cater to such a wide variety of clients, said DiPadova, is what makes Orbit 360 special. “We can do really large and really small things,” he said, noting a client who wanted — and received — a 3-D image of an RV.
Located in a nondescript office building on Calle César Chávez, Orbit 360 is part of DiPadova’s 240 Studio, a loft-style warehouse available not only for 3-D photography but also for private events and production services. Calling 240 Studio a “base camp for photo shoots,” DiPadova said that the interior’s design lends itself well to a variety of customers. “It’s urban chic meets bohemian Santa Barbara,” he said.
That vibe has attracted customers from Utah and San Francisco. It has also lured Hollywood players such as producers for the television show “Falling Skies,” and actor and Montecito resident Rob Lowe, who had a photo shoot there for the Country Music Television awards.
Although the clientele includes the wealthy, DiPadova says that certain clients can find affordable services, photo shoots, private events, and 3-D photography alike. There are special offers, he said, for nonprofit organizations “that are near and dear to our hearts” and a “local rate” for area residents and companies.
For Orbit 360 in particular, he said, it’s important to remember that “the cost is different for each product.” The benefit of Orbit 360, though, he said, is pretty much the same for each customer. “It’s a fun way to make folks investigate the product more.”