Saturday, December 15, 2007

Plug-ins for Flash Panorama Player

For years, panoramas have been presented on the web using QuickTime VR or Java-based players.
Flash Panorama Player ("FPP") has come on the scene recently and is rapidly becoming the presentation tool of choice for VR photographers. Created by Denis Chumakov, FPP is a viewer engine built on Adobe Flash Player.
FPP is a great tool. So is Flash. They're great together, and even better if you are a programmer. I am not.
At its most basic, FPP can be used to publish panos just by copying files. Here's an example of what you get when you simply copy files. It's a basic presentation, but it works well. Note the inertial damping of the motion, and the window resizing. These are just two of the features of FPP.
Fortunately, Patrick Cheatham and Zephyr Renner ARE programmers. They've created, a site dedicated to making available inexpensive FPP plugins and (this is the best part) rewriting the documentation included with FPP. They describe what they're doing this way: "Some of this is taken from existing documentation, some is reworded, some is from experience. The idea isn't to replicate existing FPP documentation, but to rework and expand it."
As an example, they've posted FPP documentation for fullscreen panoramas here. More documentation is in the works.
If you have a colleague who is a Flash programmer, turn them on to this now. Let them help you build an integrated Flash presentation for your panoramas.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gigapans at

Where's Waldo?
Kudos to for taking on the Gigapan camera and putting it to work for viewsers. This isn't exactly the photojournalistic use of panorama we've been concentrating on here on The Panoramist, but it has an incredible wow and cool factor.

GigaPan is a combination of hardware and software (Developed by Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, with support from Google) that allows multiple images (often hundreds) to be shot precisely and stitched together into a large-scale multiple-row panorama. This allows for remarkable resolution in a single image, reminiscent of the photos taken by early photographers of American landscapes such as William Henry Jackson. Face to face with a contact print of one of Jackson's 18"x22" glass plates, one needs only a magnifying glass to go deep into the image. GigaPan gives us the ability to present this experience to our viewsers.

One could do the same thing with PTGui and a panoramic head, painstakingly shooting several rows of multiple images with a long lens and spending more than a few hours at the computer. GigaPan appears to streamline this process, making it accessible for us regular folks.

Do note, however, (quoting from the GigaPan FAQ): "Because a panorama is assembled from multiple pictures, sometimes you'll see strange things if something moved between the pictures." As photojournalists, we have to take this into consideration when shooting any panorama that requires multiple images.