It’s been quite a few years since I was first wowed by Microsoft’s demonstration of Photosynth — and the company keeps improving its tool for making 3D experiences directly from photos.
The Photosynth team posted “a major update” on Tuesday, and says its new synthesized locations and flyovers “are as smooth as a Steadicam video, but they’re ultra-resolution and completely interactive.”
For example, a high-altitude “flight” to Mount Everest takes one minute to play, and “every frame contains a whopping 60 megapixels,” the developers say. It was shot from a high-altitude helicopter with an array of full-frame cameras. “You can stop anywhere and zoom in on every last pixel.”
If you can’t fly a chopper, you can walk around a big rock on the beach taking still shots — and Photosynth will create a photorealistic 3D model from them, as also demonstrated on the site. How are they made? “40 photos were uploaded to our servers on Microsoft Azure,” the developers note. “The Photosynth pipeline analyzed the photos for overlap, and created a point cloud of the stable features. Each photo was then fitted to this point cloud, and a location was estimated for the camera in every photo. Finally, a smooth path through or near each of these locations was calculated, and the result was stored on photosynth.net for viewing. You view the synth using WebGL, which is supported by Internet Explorer 11 and all the other leading browsers.”
Photosynth lets you “capture amazing places and objects, share them with friends, and embed them in blogs and websites,” the team adds.