Exploring Photos in 3d

How do you keep one step ahead of your students? When they are used to living in a multimedia rich world, are you finding it increasingly difficult to grab them and engage them? I know that I find my own children don’t want to sit through a 300 photograph slide show any more….but I’ve found a way to fool them. Read on…

 

First there was the holiday snapshot, and then my parents bought a slide projector. Well, it all went downhill from there for a while. But then things brightened up with video cameras. For a little while things seemed to get better. And then I started to get tired of some of the boring holiday videos (How much ‘BuffetCam’ can you stand?)

So here’s a way to get students to (a) watch a 300 photo slideshow and (b) become immersed in creating their own.

It’s Photosynth – something I’ve written about before – which allows you to build a 3D model of a place or object from static photographs. I’ve found I can while away half an hour easily, exploring somebody else’s model of St Marks Square, Stonehenge or even a Ferrari 575 Superamerica.

While writing this, I discovered that the website had fallen over, simply through getting too much traffic, so if the same happens again, then watch this video of Blaise Aguera demonstrating it whilst you’re waiting for service to be resumed!

And now Photosynth has been fully released, it gets better. You can use Photosynth to turn regular digital photos into a three-dimensional, 360-degree model. And you can then share your synth with others – who can walk in your shoes through the same place. The technology does the hard work – reconstructing the scene or object from your flat photos – by looking for similarities between images, and using it to estimate the shape of the space/object, and work out the original camera position.

To create your own synth sign in to http://photosynth.com, download the synther application and viewer. And start building.

I took my photos of Westminster Cathedral, which is right outside of our office. Just before you say “But that’s not Westminster”, then re-read the last sentence. It’s the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, not Westminster Abbey.

Before I first worked in Victoria Street, I had no idea that this impressive building was a few hundreds yards from the Abbey. It is well described on its website: “Westminster Cathedral is one of the greatest secrets of London; people heading down Victoria Street on the well-trodden route to more famous sites are astonished to come across a piazza opening up the view to an extraordinary facade of towers, balconies and domes.”

Anyway, I stood in front of it, and kept taking photos – 103 of them – including close ups of the statuary, and the left hand-side of the building, and then loaded them into the Photosynth software. I didn’t have to tag them, or arrange them, or shoot in any particular order – it did all of the work. And after about an hour (analysis, upload and display time, I guess) that was it – a 3D model of the cathedral was made.

You can see a snapshot of a part of it on the right, and you can see my whole synth here.

I tried a few tricks, to see how they would work:

  • Walking in the left-hand door, and you can too, but the lighting made it impossible to take photos inside - LINK
  • A close up of the notice board by the door – LINK spot the bargain!
  • And a view around the side, with a close up of the mosaic over the door – LINK