Siggraph Part 2: Everything goes Giga!

xRez shows off giant Yosemite panorama

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A handsome bunch:
Greg Downing (left), Eric Hanson (right) and VFX-legend Cody Harrington (middle).

One thing is for sure: Their pano is bigger than yours.

The Yosemite Extreme Panoramic Imaging Project aims at nothing less than capturing the entire Yosemite valley in one massive image. 70 volunteers, capturing 45 Gigapixel of imagery, which are projected onto super-detailed geometry scans, and then rendered into one long strip in Maya. That's crazy talk.

But the two masterminds behind xRez, Greg Downing and Eric Hanson, pulled it off, and their result is shown on in the entrance hall at Siggraph. For some reason I was expecting they would wallpaper the entire outer walls of the conference center. Actually, what you see in the picture above is only one half of it, the North Rim. Eventually you'll be able to see it on a Microsoft Surface display in the National Park's Visitor Center.

More info the xRez site, the HDView Blog, and in this insanely cool movie:

But wait - there's more...

GigaPan is catching up

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Gigapano photography set for less than $500.

This is another one of these projects I was watching closely, but never got around to talk about it. The GigaPan is a robotic panohead for regular snapshot cameras, and significantly cheaper than any other robotic head around. Still, it's incredible stable and reliable, and the onboard software is a breeze to use. It was good enough for the xRez gang, so it will sure fit your needs as well.

Except, that it's still in beta. I was fortunate enough to snatch a unit (here is my puny 0.5 GPix pano), but many others were not as lucky. So the Gigapan crew is digging through a backlog of 1000+ beta applications. Well, the good news is that they have manufacturing almost sorted out, and soon to expand into a second round of beta.

More eyecandy on, more info on the Global Connection Project site.

AutoPano 2 splits in Pro and Giga

Alexandre Jenny, original creator of AutoPano, made a totally unexpected appearance with a booth on the main exhibition floor. Way to go, Alexandre!

He's working really hard on v2.0, to be released in December. Then Autopano will be split in 3:
  • AutoPano Pro - the autopano we all learned to love.
  • AutoPano Server - automatic server-sided stitching and website display, especially useful for real estate agents in the field.
  • AutoPano Giga - this is where the money is in terms of HDR-support.

Let me quickly elaborate on this:
You'll be able to stitch an HDR gigapixel panorama without shooting multiple exposures for each segment. You'd rather put your camera in auto-exposure mode, so you capture most detail you can get in a best-shot-fashion. AutoPano 2 Giga will compensate for varying exposures by assigning them the proper luminance level. So the patch you shoot in a dark ground patch will have all the detail, but in the HDR it will be much darker than the patch you shot in the sky. Actually, this is already possible with the current version of AutoPanoPro, but there are severe blending issues. Well, not anymore. The resulting Gigapixel HDR will be the perfect feed for HDView.

There is lots of other goodness across the board: GPU rendering, support for RAW and the Gigapan unit.... Check out the Feature Comparison and Upgrade Path, and if you feel experimental today you can also grab the first beta version. I know I will :)

Wow, that was a hell of a long blog post. Hope you enjoyed it, still.

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