Photosynth and Seadragon are amazing pieces of software. And until now I’d never heard of them. Press play on the video to watch a fascinating short talk about how they work. And there’s a live demo for you to play with at the bottom of the page…
It’s Not Just The Usual 360° Panorama!
We are all used to seeing webpages with panoramas made from stitched together photos. Often they are interactive allowing you to use your mouse to change the view around 360° and also zoom in and out. This is not what Photosynth is.
In this TED talk software architect Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos software that can align, merge and display images from hundreds of camera to form a highly interactive, highly intuitive virtual world. It’s very impressive.
Photographs taken of the same scene from different positions, at different levels of zoom and at different angles can all be stitched together forming a massive amalgam. Watch the video as images are moved around, zoomed in and out quickly and easily.
Another particularly impressive feature is the ability to rotate around an object or point of interest as if you were walking (or flying) around it. This is not a 3D reconstruction but an alignment of 2D photographs in virtual 3D space such that you see the appropriate view from the current viewing position.
All From ‘Random’ Images
The astounding thing with this software is the fact that the photographs are not taken in a specific manner or pre-planned. The data is random – taken from existing photographs and stitched, orientated and animated to form a coherent whole.
Fast, Fast, Fast!
Another impressive aspect of the software is the speed. Photographs are tossed around as if they are trivial 30 Kb optimized jpegs. But they are not – one of the images in the demo is said to be 300 Mega-Pixels in size! A quick search of the name ‘Seadragon‘ (mentioned in the video) suggests that this might be because of the same technology found in Zoom.it. If any reader knows more about this please post a comment.
See for Yourself
You can use Photosynth at http://photosynth.net/. It doesn’t work as quickly as the one in the demo because the data has to travel across the Internet but it’s impressive none-the-less. Below is an example. Click the Full Screen button on the control panel for the best effect. One of the other buttons lets you change the type of view – I’m particularly fascinated by the Point Cloud view. This seems to construct a virtual 3D view of the scene based upon data extracted from the images.
Please leave a comment if you know of any other impressive software that could be featured on this site.
Photosynth and Seadragon are the registered trademarks of their respective owners.