Stunning: Yosemite Extreme Gigapixel Panoramic Imaging Project

First, Microsoft deserves a kudo for its Pro Photo Summit. John Harrington wrote up the highlights and linked to many of the coolest things.

But the coolest thing I saw on Wednesday?

Was something I saw at lunch: the Yosemite Extreme Gigapixel Panoramic Imaging Project. They mapped out Yosemite with 20 high-resolution panoramic cameras. To give you an idea how cool these images are, here’s an earlier version they did. The 20 new images should be up on the xRez site this week, they told me.

I liked it so much that I did three videos. If you only have time for one, watch this 17-minute video, which is the second one below.

The first video was one I filmed during lunch with Greg Downing and Eric Hanson, co founders of xRez Studios, which did the xRez Yosemite Gigapixel Project. They are the two geeks who built the systems to stitch together these huge images (gigapixels). Digital Producer has an indepth article on the technology they are using.

The second video and third video I filmed after the summit’s first day ended and things were a little quieter. This time Bill Crow of Microsoft’s Live Labs joined us. You can read his blog here, which is on HD Photography. These two videos not only give you a good tour around the Yosemite project, which contains some of the highest-resolution images of Yosemite ever seen (so much detail is in them that you can zoom into climbers on the top of Half Dome), but also Bill explains the technology that lets you view and zoom these images over the Internet. It’s called “Seadragon” and it’s quite remarkable. I wish these videos were a little sharper, but you’ll get the idea of just how cool this technology is.

Yes, that’s Thomas Hawk sitting next to Bill Crow.

Oh, and all of this stuff is demoed on Microsoft’s new Surface table-top computer, which is quite remarkable too. This is the first time I’ve really gotten a good hands-on look at the Surface and I see a TON of stuff that I liked a lot. I could play with one of those for hours.

Think Microsoft isn’t innovative? You can’t say that anymore, sorry.

Oh, and one more example of what Microsoft is doing in photography that just is magical: Microsoft’s Deep Photo. Dan Fay got first video of this new project and it’s wow. You’ll hear me in the front row saying “wow” when researcher Michael Cohen uses this technology to remove haze from an image of New York City.

23 thoughts on “Stunning: Yosemite Extreme Gigapixel Panoramic Imaging Project

  1. “Microsoft is also doing incredible work in the aerial imaging space by manufacturing it’s own 216 megapixel aerial camera ”

    Wow– they REALLY hate Google. It won’t help them, though. Google will stay a few steps ahead of them, all the way.

  2. “Microsoft is also doing incredible work in the aerial imaging space by manufacturing it’s own 216 megapixel aerial camera ”

    Wow– they REALLY hate Google. It won’t help them, though. Google will stay a few steps ahead of them, all the way.

  3. What? No tears? Not even a sniffle?

    Surface will be an expensive flop, but will be shareholder-bankrolled on account of the sexy factor alone, that’s all predictable 10 miles away in ultra-high-definition.

  4. What? No tears? Not even a sniffle?

    Surface will be an expensive flop, but will be shareholder-bankrolled on account of the sexy factor alone, that’s all predictable 10 miles away in ultra-high-definition.

  5. I am noticing that the ‘technical’ world gets so focused on the gadgets and projects that they miss site of activities that ‘real’ people are doing in the ‘real’ world. And that these ‘toys’ merely help us communicate these accomplishments more robustly. Just last week, 2 people broke the speed record for climbing up El Cap. An astounding 2 hours and 43 minutes. I envision a scenario where someone will invent a gadget that will record the happenings of the earth when all the humans are extinct, but we will think the technology is really cool. Do we sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees?

  6. I am noticing that the ‘technical’ world gets so focused on the gadgets and projects that they miss site of activities that ‘real’ people are doing in the ‘real’ world. And that these ‘toys’ merely help us communicate these accomplishments more robustly. Just last week, 2 people broke the speed record for climbing up El Cap. An astounding 2 hours and 43 minutes. I envision a scenario where someone will invent a gadget that will record the happenings of the earth when all the humans are extinct, but we will think the technology is really cool. Do we sometimes lose sight of the forest for the trees?

  7. Hey Robert, not sure you had a chance to get to my note this week. Microsoft is also doing incredible work in the aerial imaging space by manufacturing it’s own 216 megapixel aerial camera that is used to capture the high res imagery for Virtual Earth.

    I am doing an entire video series on Virtual Earth and the first episode is with the guy who invented this camera. Check it out.
    http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/Mark+Brown/Behind-The-Maps-UltraCam/

    Regards,
    Mark

  8. Hey Robert, not sure you had a chance to get to my note this week. Microsoft is also doing incredible work in the aerial imaging space by manufacturing it’s own 216 megapixel aerial camera that is used to capture the high res imagery for Virtual Earth.

    I am doing an entire video series on Virtual Earth and the first episode is with the guy who invented this camera. Check it out.
    http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/Mark+Brown/Behind-The-Maps-UltraCam/

    Regards,
    Mark

  9. C’mon Robert. You know better than anyone that the photo summit represents a very small and very elite part of Microsoft. The innovation they do is undoubtable, but it is not the norm anymore at Microsoft. Any good work they do, they do despite organizational support for true innovation and passion for delighting customers. From one event you can’t paint Microsoft innovative. But you can surely call these individuals and small groups innovative…and as I photog myself, color me impressed.

  10. C’mon Robert. You know better than anyone that the photo summit represents a very small and very elite part of Microsoft. The innovation they do is undoubtable, but it is not the norm anymore at Microsoft. Any good work they do, they do despite organizational support for true innovation and passion for delighting customers. From one event you can’t paint Microsoft innovative. But you can surely call these individuals and small groups innovative…and as I photog myself, color me impressed.

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