Prague 18 Gigapixels – How was it made?

prague 18 gigapixels

A lot of people are curious about how exactly an image like this can be made at all. So, we’ve compiled the most basic questions and written some answers. If you have another question, be sure to leave a comment below.

The Prague 18 Gigagpixel image was shot from the top floor of this tower.
The Prague 18 Gigagpixel image was shot from the top floor of this tower.

How did you create this panorama?

I used a Canon 5d mark 2 and a 70-200mm lens, set to 200mm. The camera was mounted on a robotic device which turned the camera in tiny, precise increments, in every direction. All together, 40 gigabytes of images were shot. These images were then stitched together using PTGui. The resulting panorama was adjusted for color, contrast, sharpness, etc. in Photoshop. Afterwards, the image was cut into lots of “tiles” and uploaded to our server. When you view the image online, you only load a few of these “tiles” at one time.

How long did you spend stitching this panorama?

Between loading the initial raw files into the computer, and having the panorama stitched, it took about a week. It took 3 additional weeks to fine-tune the image.

What kind of computer did you use?

I used a four year-old windows PC with two single-core 3ghz xeon processors and 8GB of RAM. After a week of frustration, I also bought an SSD, which helped to speed up some tasks a bit. If I will make this image again, I will buy a new computer.

What are the dimensions of this panorama, and the size it takes on disk?

The final image exists as a 120 gigabyte photoshop large (PSB) file. It cannot exist as a TIFF or JPEG file because of their size constraints. The panorama online exists as a few hundred thousand small tiles (in JPEG format), and they take up about 1 gigabyte of disk space.

If you have more questions about how this image was made, please leave a comment!

Link to the panorama

65 thoughts on “Prague 18 Gigapixels – How was it made?

    1. See the Merlin/Orion Teletracker alternative. It handles even the biggest cameras, because it is made to handle a telescope.

      Unfortunately this solution is not available just as-is, you need to buy additional electronics (a bluetooth adapter and a hendheld or laptop to run the software that drives the device).

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  1. What motorized head did you use? Did you try other stitching software like the Gigapan and gigapixel plug-in of Autopano Giga? How long did the stitching period last? Thanks

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  2. A few questions. First, where in that observation tower was there a location with an unobstructed 360 degree view? And if there was none, what method(s) did you use to get around various obstructions?

    Also, how long did it take to shoot the entire sequence? Was there a problem with shadows moving from one shot to the next?

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  3. Really Cool Stuff!

    Amazon EC2 might be a good way to render the Panorama. Amazon has Windows versions, but a command line linux panorama tool might be required for best results.

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  4. Amazing! Better than being there!

    I visited Praque and the tower as a tourist in 2005. The glass in the public observation areas is so thick it distorts the view.

    The panorama has the clarity I wish I could have seen from the tower in person.

    Darreld Ellis – Topeka, KS USA

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  5. Great pano. What VR head did you use? And also, how do you take so many precise shots, is it connected to some sort of remote device, and if so, what’s the device?
    Thanks

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  6. How did you fix the camera at this point?! how did it last to automatically take all pictures? are there any making-of photographs?

    it’s simply amazing!! 🙂

    thanks for this REALLY great work and greets from germany
    rico

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  7. A minor point compared to some of the others, but the first thing that came to mind was why was it shot with a zoom instead of a fixed focus 200mm 1.8 or 2.8? On top of that the zoom was extended out to the maximum 200mm. Typically a lens has the most optical aberrations at the extremes (70mm and 200mm in this case). Granted the lens was of decent quality I’m sure, but unless I have to, I try and back off a little from a maximum zoom to get a clearer image. Just curious about the decision to use the zoom.
    Does the tiling process crop out the edges to help with the image quality?
    I’m sure I speak for everyone, when I say how disappointed I was in not being able to read the names on the tombstones in the cemetery on the north side of the tower ;>)
    Just kidding….great work.

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  8. I would have lost my cookies doing this up on that tower – what a beautiful job, Jeffrey! Can’t wait to see your next mega-gigapixel pano!

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  9. What am I missing? A link or something? There are a ton of questions here (What VR head? What robotic device? Was window removed? How long to shoot? Attached to computer or external device? Does tiling crop out edges? and so forth), but no answers. Can somebody help me out? Where are the answers? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Dave – I’m a little late viewing this but did you ever find out where all the answers to the various questions are located? I see that Jeffrey said he had Christmas Hoildays and that he would answer questions – but cannot find them. Can you reply and let us all know – if you have found this elusive spot? Thanks.

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  10. Great photo, but same problem as Dave. Where are the answers for all the questions? I would realy like to know more – specialy about the robotic device. Thanks

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  11. So amazing! Still trying to understand the technology behind it.This is the greatest picture I`ve ever viewed. I look foward to visit Prague.

    Emma, Nairobi, Kenya.

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  12. Hi Pint,

    Sorry, 360 Photographers have christmas holidays too 🙂

    I’ll answer most of the questions very soon.

    best,
    Jeffrey

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  13. Spent hours looking for the hotel I stayed in last year Eventually found it – great fun and great pic. You must have a lot more patience than me to create this. Look forward to seeing others!

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  14. Great work no doubt … But what I can’t get my head around is the resolution !! There is no way for the best 35mm DSLR + the best 200mm lens to resolve such details !! it’s mind boggling for me and .. am I missing something here !!!

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    1. Yes. you’re missing the important point that *hundreds* of shots from said camera were made, and then joined together precisely. Hopefully it makes more sense considering that fact.

      Jeffrey

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  15. Hey Jeff….
    Hope all the beer has been drank and the haze has cleared…any chance of detailing a “how I did it” page ….c’mon spit it out…..please!

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  16. It just fantastic. And it must have been a very clear day and possibly a Sunday to reduce the problem with haze from the exhaust fumes.
    But a detail: It is probably impossible for this enormous picture, but a tad of adjustments of highlight and saturation would improve on the image. To me it seems too light and with not enough contrast.

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  17. What Software did you use to make the “tiles broadcast” or basically, how did you convert all this to flash?

    Cheers and keep up the good work

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  18. Tom :A few questions. First, where in that observation tower was there a location with an unobstructed 360 degree view? And if there was none, what method(s) did you use to get around various obstructions?
    Also, how long did it take to shoot the entire sequence? Was there a problem with shadows moving from one shot to the next?

    Like

  19. Very very very impressive! Before I read about the robotic telescope mount I assumed you must have had a huge amount of patience to do this manually.

    One technical question – did you need to find control points in PTGui or were the photo angle so precise you just placed them setting the parameters in PTGui advanced mode?

    I’m really impressed how you’ve enhance the levels for different zoom amounts, in other words when you zoom in not only do you get more detail but you also get more constrast for that area of the image. Clever!

    Like

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