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I have a panoramic image which I would like to set as a spherical background for my scene, which is using Cycles Render.

As the camera changes orientation, the background should stay fixed (like a skymap) and not move with the camera.

Any ideas?

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    $\begingroup$ By "move appropriately," do you mean that the image should follow the camera, or do you just mean that the image should act like you expect a skymap to? $\endgroup$ – Matt Dec 19 '13 at 17:42
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If your image is an equirectangular projection, you can use the Environment texture node within the World space node editor (see red markup), with Equirectangular projection type (second setting) :

enter image description here

The yellowed area in this image correspond to optional nodes you can add to control the position of the background if you have already set the objects and camera's position, and don't want to move them again.

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    $\begingroup$ Just want to add that this supports both Equirectangular and Mirror Ball projections. For examples of each (and a ton of great skymaps for free) see here. $\endgroup$ – wchargin Dec 19 '13 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Polosson! But perhaps you could clarify something in your post. Following your method with Equirectangular projection, the image is mapped to the entire sphere, unlike in Blender Internal, where it seems to be mapped to the upper hemisphere. The rectangular images in the site suggested by @WChargin are meant to be mapped to the upper hemisphere. To get around this, I opened them in Gimp and doubled the height of the image by adding alpha below it. Is that the best way? $\endgroup$ – Garrett Dec 20 '13 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ AFAIK, real equirectangular maps are supposed to be 360° x 180°, so they cover the entire sphere, from top to bottom. If your map is a half-sphere (360°x90°), you'll have to edit it, indeed, to add height. I can't found a best way for now, sorry! $\endgroup$ – Polosson Dec 20 '13 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ That probably is the best way as long as you have a ground plane that extends into the horizon. Realistically, if I look down, I expect to see the ground, not more of the sky, unless there's a giant hole bored through the center of the earth and I happen to be standing above it. (In which case yes, you would need a full sphere sky texture.) $\endgroup$ – wchargin Dec 20 '13 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Cool, thanks. I agree it seems to make sense for the equirectangular map to map the whole sphere. I guess it's the behavior in Blender Internal that's a bit more strange. $\endgroup$ – Garrett Dec 21 '13 at 0:12

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