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Making the World's Largest Panoramic Photo 100

Iddo Genuth writes: In order to create the largest panoramic picture ever taken (using commercially available gear), a team of international photographers led by Italian photographer Filippo Blengini had to climb to an altitude of 3500 metres, wait for two weeks in a temperature of minus 10 degrees Celsius, look for a sunny, bright day, and then spend 35 hours shooting. During this time they shot over 70,000 images, which were combined in to the giant 365 Gigapxiel panorama using a special robotic head with a long 400mm telephoto lens (and a 2x Extender).

But the work didn't end up in the snowy Alps — when the team got back they had with them no less than 46TB of images which they needed to process in order to create one giant interactive image, 365 Gigapixels in size. This processing required some very powerful hardware and took over two months to complete, but the result is a look at the Mont Blanc (the tallest mountain in the Alps and the highest peak in Europe outside of the Caucasus range raising 4,810 meters or 15,781 feet above sea level) — like it has never been seen before.
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Making the World's Largest Panoramic Photo

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  • The article forgot to mention that the team has hidden a life-size Waldo in the photo. Can you find him?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      not sure if serious...oh well, i had nothing planned for this evening anyways. *goes looking*
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      The article forgot to mention that the team has hidden a life-size Waldo in the photo. Can you find him?

      Of course you can't. Waldo only lives in the US and Canada. Everywhere else in the world you're looking for where Wally is.

      And this being a picture of Mont Blanc, in Europe no less, no self respecting freedom loving Waldo would be seen anywhere any cheese eating surrender monkeys*.

      Now if you want to know where Wally is .. well I'm sure he is there somewhere. Just keep on looking, or perhaps fling a few $$ at googles mechanical turk, and rent out a real turk for a day or so to do your work for you.

      * Not t

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        Everywhere else in the world you're looking for where Wally is.

        Only in English speaking countries, I would assume. The Danish translation (yes, the picture books get translated) named him Holger.

      • * Not that I consider the French to be cheese eating surrender monkeys. I am just pandering to the Americans who seem to have totally forgotten why there is a 93m copper woman sitting in New Jersey**

        We haven't forgotten. We're just still upset about De Gaulle dropping out of NATO, saying the Soviets would win the Cold War, and then going about being an asshole to US and Britain in an attempt to prove that France is still a super power. That is when all the surrender stuff began. In the end and after WW2, it is true that the US troops identified more with the German people and culture, but I have found no claims of the French being "surrender *anythings*" even in literature bitching about the French fro

        • by Skater ( 41976 )

          Rather than explaining these reasons to the American people (who really probably don't care for the most part), they just rename "French Fries". "Freedom Fries".

          Note, I have yet to meet anyone who calls them "Freedom Fries". Most Europeans probably understand the difference between a publicity stunt and reality.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Funny. When I look up the Statue of Liberty I find that it is on Liberty Island, operated by the federal government, where the above water portion of the island is part of the borough of Manhattan, and the below water portion being in New Jersey. Last I checked, the statue was above water, meaning it is part of New York. If you ever buy something there, check your receipt and you'll notice you paid NY state sales tax.

      • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

        > fling a few $$ at googles mechanical turk

        Huh? Learn to spell correctly: Google's Mechanical Turk ;-) ;-)

  • So, basically your're telling me we can capture images in 365 Gigapixels now. Okay, I want a monitor to display this, a video card(s) to render textures that size and of course a new Cry engine to run video games in at this resolution (at 60fps!).
    Meanwhile, I hope I never have kids who want to go to college 'cause I'm putting all my savings towards that equipment...
  • somewhere out there...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27, 2015 @05:28PM (#49786655)

    They didn't do a very good job of stitching the photos together. Much of the detail is repeated. For example, look just down and to the left of the gondola: the snow banks are repeated twice (one set on top and the other set a bit below). Then if you zoom out, you'll realize that much of that section of snow is repeated. Look to the right, in the rougher terrain, and again the same details are repeated in a tiled format. It's like this throughout the "photograph," and you can't tell what's real and what's incorrect.

    For a huge image: success. For a huge image that actually shows what's really there: fail.

    • Methinks the photo is about beauty on the epic scale.
    • I have made many, many panoramas, but none in the multi-gigapixel range, so I realize that they had a very tough stitching job, but even so: This was a pretty bad job!

      All the central snow fields look like the result of randomly placed images: With a motorized pano head they should have been able to locate each image pretty accurately even before they started the SIFT runs to look for matching key points (which can be hard in a blue sky or on white snow).

      More problematic is the fact that they must have done

      • I have to say, this is borderline pointless.

        Firstly, most of the detail is of relatively uninteresting bits of snow, rock, and ice: there's no real motivation to zooming in and poking around, as there is in a similar multi-gigapixel panorama of a city, for example.

        As someone said above, the real grandeur of the scene comes in taking in the wider view, at which point the whole hi-res aspect is totally moot.

        Plus the mosaic making sucks. Really, right from the get-go, the repeated features in the for

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      I was about to make a similar comment, having just noticed this. If you zoom in on the lake, you can see it clearly on the right side of the dam.

  • StreetView? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luiz de Viveiros ( 3545527 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2015 @05:31PM (#49786675)
    If you're allowed to take tens of thousands of separate pictures and move the camera with a robotic arm, wouldn't the largest panoramic picture in the world be Google StreetView?
    • I believe Google StreetView is composed of a series of relatively small res panoramas, not one large one.
      • What's the difference between a panoramic photo, composed of small pictures stitched together, and Google Streetview or Google Maps, which are composed of small pictures stitched together? Is the difference that one person calls themselves a "photographer" and the other person is just a technician?

        • by aiht ( 1017790 )

          What's the difference between a panoramic photo, composed of small pictures stitched together, and Google Streetview or Google Maps, which are composed of small pictures stitched together? Is the difference that one person calls themselves a "photographer" and the other person is just a technician?

          Google Maps could be considered a single panorama (although that's arguable - does the definition of a panorama require that the viewpoint stay in one place and look outwards?) but StreetView definitely isn't - it is lots of separate small, low-res panoramas (panoramae?), one for each location you can position the viewpoint.

          • ...does the definition of a panorama require that the viewpoint stay in one place and look outwards?...


            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              No. Well, not according to my app that is called TheSage which has very good definitions. I looked because I have seen a picture of an item that was circumnavigated being called a panorama. I figured I would get a more authoritative source and went to the MW source:

              http://www.merriam-webster.com... [merriam-webster.com]

              Colloquially I would agree with you BUT reality says otherwise. I personally only use it to describe what you think is the definition. However it is not as strict as I use it and you believe it actually is. To off

  • I can tell from some of the pixels and from seeing quite a few shops in my time.
  • There is a crane and a new building going up on one of the peaks. Anyone know what that is?
    • The latest Bond villain secret stronghold.
      • Actually, there IS a Bond villain-looking stronghold in there, it even has a very large missile-looking thing. The detail is so amazing you can even see people around it (presumably henchmen henching). I wish the display app had coordinates so I could point you there.

        • It looks like a place for billionaires to go skiing. Take your helicopter up to the top (they're building a helipad) then ski back down.

          • by jcdr ( 178250 )

            No need to be billionaires and no need of helicopter. This is a cable car arrival and the price is far lower than with an helicopter, at least from the Italian side. From the French side the travel is more expensive because this is a long travel including a impressive 5km panoramic track with an aerial pylon.

    • You mean the thing with all the cables going to it that the gondolas are riding on? No idea what that could be.

    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      C'est le Refuge des Cosmiques [camptocamp.org], my friend. Some kind of super hotel where guides can take a shower on their way to dragging their clients up Mt Blanc. It's been reconstructed (poorly) recently.
      • by jcdr ( 178250 )

        Désolé, the one with the crane is the new Helbronner cable car arrival that will normally open this summer:
        http://www.cordeemontblanc.eu/... [cordeemontblanc.eu]
        The article emphasis the new cable car from the Italian side, but the arrival is also connected to the Dent du Midi by the Mont Blanc Panoramic cable car (la Vallée Blanche).

        The Dent du Midi is visible on the photo almost on the opposite geographic side of the photo if you zoom.

        • by jcdr ( 178250 )

          My mistake, this is the Aiguille du Midi instead of the Dentd du Mid.

          • by dargaud ( 518470 )
            Yup, the 'Dent du Geant' is also proeminently visible. I soloed that thing years ago. And climbed many other features in the area, including the Freney pillar [gdargaud.net] on Mt Blanc, partly visible here below the summit.
            • by jcdr ( 178250 )

              In fact the photo was taken precisely from the lower side of the cable that act as the aerial pylon of the Mont-Blanc Panoramic cable car. If you zoom you can follow almost the full installation but the blurred part before the Gros Rogon pylon buildings.
              http://www.remontees-mecanique... [remontees-mecaniques.net]

              I wrote Dents du Midi by mistake because there take most the view from my window :-)

              • by dargaud ( 518470 )

                "Real Programmers don't play tennis, or any sport that requires you to change clothes. Mountain climbing is OK, and real programmers always wear their climbing boots to work in case a mountain should suddenly spring up in the middle of a machine room." -- Real programmers don't write specs

                Ahem, so, do you climb in those parts ? I'm not very far...

                • by jcdr ( 178250 )

                  Thanks for the offer, but I don't plan to climb so high mountains even if I live in the middle of some of them. I enjoy walking the summer and ski the winter, but no high performance sport for me :-) I will probably take the panoramic cable car with my children someday.

            • by jcdr ( 178250 )

              I think I can recognize the Mont Vélan immediately behind the right on the Dent du Géant and even the Mont Rose at hit right on the horizon. Impressive, this is over 70km away from the point of view.

    • by jcdr ( 178250 )

      This the new Helbronner cable car arrival connected to the Italian side and to the Aiguille du Midi on the other side with the famous Mont Blanc Panoramic cable car: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V... [wikipedia.org]
      The new Italian side is due to open this summer.

  • There are sections with repeated patterns, which suggests the algorithm that pasted together the pictures messed up quite badly. In some parts I found the same pattern pasted four times (unfortunately they didn't provide a mechanism to extract links to particular views).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is just an awful amateurish mess. This is not that great an achievement and certainly wouldn't require a supercomputer to accomplish these days but they've even managed to stuff up the modest task they assigned themselves. There are lighting mismatches (understandable given the duration of teh shoot) But the really bad artifacts are things like a massive seam at the edge of the "360" degree panorama, huge blurry areas that they have not shot properly and pasty silhouette artifacts on things like the c

    • It's also a surprisingly dull subject. Spectacular to look at zoomed out sure, but the detail one gets to zoom into is mostly just snow and rocks. And they look pretty much the same everywhere. It seems likely that the subject was chosen because it doesn't move around very much, making the stitching job simpler - though as the AC points out, even that didn't go very well. People have been doing this for quite a while now, here's one from 2010 that's alot more interesting to zoom into [360gigapixels.com], even if the in-browser

      • that's called a fractal image.
      • Well, for the rock climbers and mountaineers in the audience, this is a pretty spectacular picture. It's fun to trace routes up the mountain.

        Now they need to do the Eiger and update the El Cap gigaphoto.


      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Quality is not a requirement for it to be defined as a panorama and quality is not a metric used when determining the size. However crappy it still qualifies as the largest panorama (it seems - Google does not indicate that there are larger with commercially available products) even though it doesn't meet your standards. It does not meet my standards either but we do not count and the definition is not affected by standards. Additionally, it is "a lot" and not "alot." 'Alot' is not a word in English.

        • I didn't argue that it's not a panorama, nor did I suggest that it's not the largest digital panorama in existence. But thanks for correcting me anyway.

          You're my first grammar nazi.Do I get a badge?

  • I spun it around twice... meh?
    My realtor has a camera that can pretty much do that... It's cooler looking than my kitchen but still, seems like a lot of effort.

  • Well, the final product is a thing of beauty. I love how the black sections contrast with the snowy peaks.
  • I just have one question: Why did they name this mountain after a pen?

  • 70000 pictures = 46 TB ?
    This makes 689 MB per picture. Wow !
    I thought my 36 MPix / 46 MB RAWs were huge already !

    • Yeah, I think their math is off as well. My wife and I have the camera that they seem to have used (a Canon 70D - you can see it in some of their "Making Of" shots) and it shoots full-res RAW files in the 25MB to 35MB range. Even if you turn on RAW+JPEG mode, that's at most ~40MB/image. So I'm not clear on how they ended up with that much data unless it's, like, 20 shots per location and 70,000 locations? But then why say 70,000 images?

  • During this time they shot over 70,000 images, which were combined in to the giant 365 Gigapxiel panorama using a special robotic head with a long 400mm telephoto lens (and a 2x Extender).

    I don't think so.

    I think it's more likely that they shot over 70,000 images using a special robotic head with a long 400mm telephoto lens, which were combined in to the giant 365 Gigapxiel[sic] panorama.

  • Re: TFA
    1) Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, not Europe. The Caucusus range reaches higher.
    2) It is not the 11th highest mountain in the world. Not even hundred-and-11th. It is the eleventh most prominent. Prominence is a contrived value that basically says how much the the mountain juts out from its surroundings. "The prominence of a peak is the minimum height of climb to the summit on any route from a higher peak, or from sea level if there is no higher peak. The lowest point on that route is

  • It is not a photeo, it is a collage that is turned into an image.

  • Hate to undermine what they did here... but this is a pretty shoddy stitching job. Granted, with the number of images they used, it's impressive work, but the result is full of errors (and that's not a pixel nitpick - there are numerous glaringly obvious stitching issues). Interesting, but hardly noteworthy.
  • Okay, lousy stitching already being mentioned, but I also doubt the motive. Endless snow fields with the least interest, and you'll never know how small/large you have zoomed in. One of the few interesting, recognizable, parts is the building site with crane. Wow, that comes out pretty nice, though. But 99% of 46 TB is almost wasted storage space. I'm amazed by the overall panorama, and said building site.
    In no case any reason to stay up for a fortnight at minus 10C.

  • There is more to see in the panoramic photo of NYC.

    http://time.com/world-trade-ce... [time.com]

We cannot command nature except by obeying her. -- Sir Francis Bacon