The basic idea of building a gigapixel image is this … I use a long lens (usually about 300mm) and photograph a large grid of images. The images are then stitched together forming an extremely large file. My arena images have ended up being in the 14-gigabyte range in size. That is huge! The image is then uploaded to a server where it is broken down into thousands of individual tiles. The image is broken down in a way that when a person views the image online, they are only viewing the tiles that are necessary. This process allows a person to explore an image without long download and wait times.
Q. Do you have a favorite?
I would say the opening night of the Timbers season is my favorite for a couple reasons.
It was the first game the team played since joining the MLS. I see its value more as a historic document. What a great opportunity to document an historic event and allow the fans to interact with a piece of Portland sports history.
The other reason is that is was probably the most difficult image to shoot. Unfortunately, this is Portland and as everyone knows, it was raining. Raining hard. The rain didn’t make capturing the image any easier. During the capture, which took about 45-minutes, I had to keep my attention focused on the process all while attempting to keep the gear dry. In a situation like this, it’s not like you can press a button and let the imager do all the work. There are things that can and will go wrong and you have to make sure they don’t. My MLS image is made up of 612 pictures. It is important to get each of the images in focus. It is important to make sure it doesn’t skip a frame. So, what I am saying is the there are a lot of little details to manage in a short amount of time.
The image has proven to be popular with the Timbers fans. The first day it was online, we had about 15,000 page views and as I write this there have been a little more than 1,200 people that have been tagged using Gigapan’s Facebook integration.
Q. Why do you like doing these, what’s the attraction for you?
In an attempt to add my own creative twist, I also photograph the action on the field with a separate camera. In the stitching process, I add the moments from the individual images into the composite. The individual images are all placed in the exact location that they were photographed. So, the completed image is still an accurate document of what happened, but it didn’t all happen at the same moment. The top left image happened 45-minutes before the bottom right corner everything else happened somewhere in the middle. This can really complicate the process, but it’s really rewarding for me to still be able to tell the story of the game within the image.
Q. Why should I hire Bruce?
I believe my career as a newspaper photographer helped me leap right into this technology with little trouble. The skills of a newspaper sports photographer translate well to the world of capturing gigapixel images. We are constantly placed in situations where we battle technical challenges and are pressured by deadlines. Think of it this way – you have to take 600+ pictures that are all in focus and exposed properly. Game is over in 90 minutes. No retakes.
Due to the Facebook integration, the client has an image that is almost guaranteed to go viral. This is obviously important to a client that is interested in branding. Even more interesting is that the viewers are spending an average of about 4 minutes exploring the image. One way of increasing this number is to create contests where the viewer is challenged to find an object within the image.
Q. Is this just a cool technology of the day, or is there something more?
One thing to think about is the idea that this document gives a fan the ability to take a little piece of their experience with them. They watched this game in person or on television. Likely these fans threw down a large amount of money to attend the event. You used to only be able to save the ticket stub. Now you can explore and post these images and share the experience with friends and family for days, moths and years after an event.
As we develop features and improve the integration of the latest social networking tools, I think the medium will continue to evolve and be a popular interactive experience for any large crowd event.