Somewhere I read of the use of equirectangular (360 x 180) photos being used in the world for backgrounds, but I have not been able to find any information. I think this was something that would work in cycles and may have required some node-editing magic. I am hoping someone can point me to a tutorial or an article. Thanks.
Any texture on anything in Blender can be set to equirectangular, but it makes most sense with image textures on spheres and skies.
There’s a button in the texture panel where you can set the coordinates to “Generated” and mapping type to “spherical” - this will create equirectangular mapping.
Well, that’s all wrong.
Equirectangular is a sphere mapped to a rectangular map with the ratio 2:1, representing -180° to +180° longtitude and -90 to +90° latitude.
Equirectangular mapping only makes sense with equirectangular maps, and they are usually mapped to the inside of a sphere.
For Blender it is rather easy since equirectangular support was added a while back:
For Blender internal you go to the World tab, then to the world texture, add a new image texture, load an equirectangular map and set the mapping to equirectangular.
Under influence disable Blend and enable horizon.
Back in the world tab enable Real Sky and you’re done.
If you want the environment texture to light your secene, you have to enable environment lighting, switch to sky texture.
For Cycles it is even easier, go to the node edior, switch to world shader nodes. Enable “use nodes”.
Add an environment texture, it’s set to equirectangular per default, load your equirectangular texture, and connect color to the color of the background and you’re done.
I have it now. Thanks for the help.
UPDATE: And thanks for the Cycles / nodes lesson. It worked. I now have realtime 360 x 180 skies. Super!