Today we’re announcing a major update to Photosynth, our groundbreaking technology for making 3D experiences directly from photos.
At http://photosynth.net/preview, you can see scores of synths created with this new technology and sign up for the technical preview program so you can make these synths yourself.
The new synths are as smooth as a Steadicam video, but they’re ultra-resolution and completely interactive. Not to mention completely addictive! The high-altitude flight to Everest, for example, takes just one minute to play, but every frame contains a whopping 60 megapixels. You can stop anywhere and zoom in on every last pixel.
Not everybody can rig a high altitude helicopter with an array of full frame cameras like David Breashears, so let’s take a look at the kind of synth anyone can make.
What am I looking at?
Check out this “spin” (one of the new types of synth) of Haystack Rock near Cannon Beach in Oregon. The photographer walked in a rough semicircle around the rock, taking 40 photos as he went. Photosynth builds its 3D from stable features–in this case, the rocks themselves and the vegetation. As you move from frame to frame, the rock and vegetation are, well, rock-solid. Moving objects, such as the birds in the air and the waves in the ocean, change from photo to photo, so they just blend in as you scrub past them in the synth. But, if you stop and zoom in, there they are!
Here’s what happened behind the scene to make this spin: The 40 photos were uploaded to our servers on Microsoft Azure. The Photosynth pipeline analyzed the photos for overlap, and created a point cloud of the stable features. Each photo was then fitted to this point cloud, and a location was estimated for the camera in every photo. Finally, a smooth path through or near each of these locations was calculated, and the result was stored on photosynth.net for viewing. You view the synth using WebGL, which is supported by Internet Explorer 11 and all the other leading browsers.
What’s it good for?
The new Photosynth allows you to capture amazing places and objects, share them with friends, and embed them in blogs and websites. “This is the experience I was dreaming about when I decided to capture the environment of Mt. Everest from a helicopter flying at extremely high altitudes.” said David Breashears, famous photographer, mountaineer, and founder of Glacierworks.org. “It brings a completely new perspective to the mountain. I’ve never seen anything as smooth and glorious as the new Photosynth of my Everest flight. It’s like a video, but you can stop on any frame and zoom in.”
How do I find out more and try it myself?
Start with our About page. It shows you the four different shapes (types) of synths and points you to videos and documents about how to shoot for the new Photosynth. Then sign up to make your own synths!