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GIgapixel ArtZoom: Focusing on the Seattle Art Scene

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 11, 2014

In October 2013, Microsoft teamed up with Seattle artists to create Gigapixel ArtZoom, an online panorama that shows off Seattle’s stunning vistas and vibrant art scene. Gigapixel ArtZoom was built on technology first demonstrated in 2006, when Johannes Kopf, Matt Uyttendaele, Oliver Deussen, and Michael Cohen at Microsoft Research improved upon existing gigapixel imaging. They figured out how to capture images of billions of pixels, and developed smoother panning and zooming technology that would permit viewers to properly explore the images.

The original image was beautiful, but stark in that the cityscape appeared to be sparsely populated. So in 2013, the team developed the Gigapixel ArtZoom, working with prominent people in the local Seattle artist scene. A plan was developed to create the panoramic shot of Seattle, and populate it with painters, fashion and costume designers, performance artists, dancers, and acrobats. On a beautiful day in October, from the top of a condominium tower in downtown Seattle, a team of photographers shot two panoramas using a Canon digital SLR camera, a professional 400 mm lens, and a Gigapan robotic tripod head. Since no single spot on the roof could yield a full panorama of Seattle, two shots were required and were later stitched together using Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor software.

During the next two weeks, the artists were posed in situ, photographed from the rooftop, and composited into the final image. Video crews also photographed and filmed the artists. The result is a stunning vista of Seattle, which viewers can pan and zoom in on from any computer or mobile device. The experience is a wonderful “Where’s Waldo” adventure; as an artist is centered in the screen, a pop-up window provides information and links to a video. The range depicts the diversity of Seattle’s art scene. Participants include landscape painter Tamara Stephas, filmmaker Wes Hurley, diva Sari Breznau, and the Kelly Lyles Art Cars, participants in the uniquely Seattle Art Car Blowout.

Gigiapixel Art is also memorable for the poignant scenes of everyday Seattle life that have been captured in the panorama. Panning across the image reveals a skateboarder mid-air, a father strolling with his infant, couples nestling by the river, and the crumpled sheets of an unmade bed, spied through a sunlit window.

Top right – GigaPixel artists from top left (going clockwise): landscape painter Tamara Stephas, actors in filmaker Wes Hurley's performance piece, opera diva Sari Breznau, and Kelly Lyles Art Cars.

Photos © Microsoft.
 

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