Microsoft’s Incredible 20 Billion Pixel Panorama of Seattle
Do you ever feel like going out and taking in some culture, perhaps browse some contemporary art and observe some local artists ply their craft? But, then you glance out of the window and see the snow/rain/hail pouring down and decide to stay inside where it’s nice and warm. Well, have no fear! Now you can explore some incredible art, and a beautiful cityscape without leaving the comfort of your home, all thanks to Microsoft’s latest Photosynth project.
Microsoft Research came up with the Seattle ArtZoom; a gigapixel cityscape with a difference. Spend a little time browsing around the 360° interactive image and you’ll soon start to notice a few things that you might not expect to see. For instance, look carefully and you’ll be able to see the fashion designer Anna Rose Telcs dressing one of her models in the street. As you zoom in to see exactly what she has chosen for him to wear, an information box will pop up in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and invite you to find out a little more about the scene that you are looking at. There are dozens of these Easter Eggs hidden around the panorama, although finding them isn’t always easy – and that’s half the fun. There’s even a man proposing with a big, “Will you marry me?” sign!
In order to create this fantastic tableau, a mere 2,368 twenty-two megapixel photographs were shot from the Bay View condominium building and stitched together with Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor software.
A gigapixel image is a composite photograph made by taking lots of zoomed-in detailed shots of one scene, and then stitching them together. This means that the resulting image has such a high resolution that you can zoom right in to take a look at details which would usually just be a pixelated blur in a standard photograph.
Gigapixel images are nothing new. The first one captured by Photosynth was taken back in 2006, and again featured Seattle. Technology has moved on significantly since then however, and beautiful panoramas can now be created on smartphones using a range of apps. So, in order to make this project stand apart from the others, Microsoft Research collaborated with over 40 artists local to Seattle, creating an image that fills the city’s streets with dancers and actors, painters and poets, acrobats and burlesque queens.
The shoot took place over several weeks, using a Canon 7D, a Gigapan robotic tripod head, and lenses ranging from 400mm to 600mm. The initial panoramic image was shot first, followed by the individual performances. Whilst these were being shot from the same building as the original cityscape, video crews were also filming the performances on the ground, and you can watch these videos on the site too.
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Take a look at a behind-the-scenes video below, and then visit the site to see for yourself. Don’t forget to leave your comments below – where in the world should the next ArtZoom project take place?