Yesterday I stumbled across HD View which utilizes the very interesting new HD Photo format plus many other technologies to demonstrate how massive multi-GigaPixel images can be created and hosted on the web. It's a nice viewer reminiscent of Microsoft's 3D Virtual Earth and Google Earth -- the native code versions, not the web view -- but for generic large images.

The sample on the site is a 4+ GigaPixel image of Squamish Wall in Canada. According to the site this image was made using 800 images from a Canon 1DS Mark II, with a 100-400mm lens. The linked images such as this 360-degree panoramic view of Yosemite are also very impressive. If you have a fast machine notice how smoothly it adjusts the perspective in real-time as you go from being totally immersed in the 360-degree view to zooming out all the way.

But best of all, you can create your own! As an experiment I took a (very) random image from a visit to Rosarito, Mexico earlier this year and ran the hdmake.exe tool on it. It's not a GigaPixel panoramic so it's not as much fun, but even for normal photos I like the potential for sites such as Flickr: rather than clicking through several thumbnails of ever-increasing sizes until you get something that fills the monitor or you can see the detail, do it dynamically. Click here to see the image. Note that you'll need to accept the ActiveX control for HD View.

For some reason I couldn't get the tool to generate the XML (the errors aren't very descriptive), but it was easy enough to author manually:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<root>
  <imageset
    url="tiles/l_{l}/c_{c}/tile_{r}.wdp"
    levels="5"
    width="3456"
    height="2304"
    projection="perspective"
    thetaMin="0"
    thetaMax="0"
    phiMin="0"
    phiMax="0"
    rollPitchYaw="0 0 0"
    maxZoom="2"
  />
</root>

Now to go make some panoramas! :-)