Archive for November, 2010

I will update this post in the next few days. Stay tuned. For now, Here are my first few thank-yous:

First, I want to thank Gerardo, our lead developer at 360cities.net. When it rains it pours – we have had the Google Earth release just last Friday, and then the London Gigapixel release today. On top of that, he is a brand new father. He has done an awesome job at getting everything in order, and doing it right. Thanks Gerardo!

I’d also like to thank Tom Mills, photographer and friend, based in Camden Town, London, who assisted me on this three-day shoot. He was a big help in keeping things organized, and keeping me from starving to death while perched on top of Centre Point!


Next, we would like to thank Fujitsu Technology Solutions for providing the great hardware we used to help to make this image. This panoramic photo was stitched on a Fujitsu CELSIUS workstation comprising dual 6-core CPUs, 192GB of RAM, and a 4GB graphics card. Using this excellent workstation allowed this record-breaking photo to be created a few weeks faster than would have been possible on any other available PC. You can read more about our great experience using the CELSIUS workstation on Fujitsu’s blog.


A big thanks to Alexandre Jenny, the Founder/CEO of Kolor, makers of Autopano Giga. Alexandre provided a lot of advice about how to use Autopano Giga, and he certainly saved me from pulling my hair out a few times. Stitching thousands of images at once has become so much easier in the last year or two, but it’s still pretty serious business. Thanks to Alexandre, it was even easier.

After three days of shooting, ten thousand photos taken, and a huge amount of work, the London 80 Gigapixel Panorama is finished and online…

Press and bloggers: Please download the The Press Release and the media package!

It is the largest 360° ever made to date… Be sure to zoom in all the way!

If you want to publish anything about this image in your blog, newspaper, or anywhere else, here is The Press Release. If you want some screenshots / images from this panorama, you can download the media package.

This image is, I would say, the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced as a photographer, and the finished product is certainly one of the highlights of my photographic career. That said, it’s far from perfect, and those of you who want to seek our imperfections in the image will have no problem doing so.  (To save those folks the trouble, I have chronicled some of the problems and shortcomings of the image in another post.)

If you want, you can also read a general FAQ about the making of the London 80 Gigapixel image.

You can also read about how to make panoramas yourself. It’s easy ;-)

As we’ve mentioned on the Gigapixel Page, we will have three competitions in conjunction with the release of this image.

The first two competitions “treasure hunt” type games, and will require you to find stuff in the image, and be quick. If you are, you can win either some camera / computer bags from Crumpler, or a 27 inch LCD Monitor from Fujitsu! You can read about these treasure hunts over on the Gigapixel Page.

The third competition, launching in beginning of December, is something new, and I’m not sure it’s even been done before, which is really exciting! It is a storytelling competition. Using the London Gigapixel image, you’ll be able to write your own story, using parts of the London Gigapixel image itself – zoom in (or out) on any part of the image, put a sentence (or more) there, and repeat, until you have a story. Publish this story to the Web; you and your friends can vote on the best stories, and win more than $3000 in holiday-related prizes from Urban Adventures and Homeaway.

Last but not least, please read my Special Thanks – I was only able to make this image (and learn how I might do it) because lots of people have helped me!

We are very happy to announce that 360 Cities has moved from the “Gallery” layer in Google Earth to the new “Photos” layer. This layer is new, and contains images by both Panoramio and 360 Cities. It is also switched on by default, which means that our images will be available to a larger audience than before!

To view the Photos layer, make sure that you have it selected in the sidebar in Google Earth, as you see in this screenshot:

Then, go anywhere in the world… Panoramio photos are the blue squares and 360 Cities panoramas are the red squares. Sometimes there are lots of each kind, like here:

Prague

 

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

 

Sometimes (but admittedly not so often) you’ll see only the red squares, such as with Matt Nolan’s panoramas from McCall Glacier and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:

So, happy exploring. We are really excited about this new development, most of all because we know how many more people out there we can inspire to make panoramic photos themselves, and publish them on 360 Cities and Google Earth!

We are now doing a maintenance on the servers due to an large upgrade of the server infrastructure. 360cities.net will be unavailable for at least 2 hours. Sorry for the inconvinience. More information will be posted on facebook.com/360cities.

-The 360 Cities Team

Here’s the next of our interviews. After Richard Chesher and Nick Spirov I’m interviewing Willy Kaemena today, a 360 Cities PRO member who’s been with 360 Cities from the very beginning.

How did you start with panoramic photography?

My interest in photos which were able to show more than  the normal view was already there when I  got my first  camera at 12 years of age, when I glued several pictures together to get a wider view.

Do you remember your first 360 panorama?

Sure I remember my very first 360 panorama. It was back in February 1997 when I bought my very first digital camera – a Ricoh DC2 which I  still have. At that time I lived  in Pakistan. QTVR had recently been invented  and I was eager to make  my first interactive  QTVR. I  ”stitched”  the photos manually in a  picture editing application and used a free utility by Apple to get the actual QTVR . I was impressed because it worked.

GCR Dome Car

How did you discover 360 Cities?

In April 2007 I was approached by “somebody” called Jeffrey Martin from Prague. At that time I lived and worked in Syria and he asked me if I would be willing to extend his Prague 360 site by adding more cities / countries like Syria and Portugal where I lived prior to Syria. I loved that idea to have panoramas  geo-tagged on an interesting and promising website. So I provided  my first panoramas of Syria for the 360cities site through a slow dial up internet connection.

How much of your time do you spend taking panos? And why? What do you do for living?

My  main job never had anything to do with photography. I worked for more than 30 years  as an engineer for a big German company. Most of those years I worked  abroad in many interesting countries. But even for my work I could use in the last 10 years panoramic photographic images, as they are the right vehicle to put somebody in a remote place as he would be there himself.


Horse Carriage (Kalesa) in Philippines

Since my retirement I make even more panoramas as I have more time and  I am able to travel a bit. I prefer to take panoramas instead of normal photos. Panoramas  have the advantage that they show “all” and you capture even things  which might not have had any importance at the moment when the picture was taken. An example could be any cityscape or landscape  taken over a couple of years.

What is the craziest  panorama you’ve ever taken? Or had most fun taking?

In the last  7 years I have made about 3000 panoramas and some of these were surly crazy, stunning or surprising.

I could recall a few:

- Taking a panorama in a gigantic pitch-dark huge exhaust duct of a power plant. I  set the  camera on “bulb”  and painted light by means of a strong torchlight. The result was unpredictable but amazingly good.

- Making panoramas of inaccessible inside parts of huge turbines and other machinery through any available opening.

- Making panoramas from elevated positions like baskets dangling from huge 400-ton cranes 100m above the ground.

Were these for your work?

I worked as a Construction Manager on these sites and had access to all parts of the project. The use of panoramas was a special means of communication with the project office at the headquarters of the company.


Deluxe Sleeper in Singapore

What’s the future of panoramic photography in your opinion?

The future of panoramic photography is quite bright. Looking back  7 years, it was a specialty of a couple hundred  geeks in the world struggling with awkward software and expensive cameras and a few available fisheye lenses. Today there is  a whole bunch of suitable software on the market, cameras are a lot better and much cheaper. Now panoramic photography is almost mainstream and done by countless photographers.

Where have you NOT been? where would you like to go?

Continent wise I have not been in Australia and Africa.

You seem to be publishing hundreds of panos of trains to 360 Cities. Why trains?

My whole life I was connected somehow to trains and we traveled always by train. With the first oil crisis 1973, it became obvious that the car was not the vehicle of the future. The  future can be only sustainable by public transport and especially by trains. Regarding trains and panoramas, you can find any number of normal photos of trains from the outside but hardly anything useful from the inside. Here is where the advantage of panoramic photos becomes obvious, as there is no better way to show the inside of trains than in this way. I think it is important to preserve our heritage of  train carriages by taking panoramas before it is too late and these cars are scrapped and replaced by better material.

Thanks for the interview!

Sign up for 360 Cities to get started with panoramic photography!


Singapore Flyer in Singapore