Panoramic EventCam

Posted by Sam Churchill on , Canon U.S.A., and Kaidan, have been using Kaidan’s EventCam to capture and publish 360-degree interactive panoramic images from the Democratic National Convention in Boston and will use it at the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York City.

Leonard M. Apcar, editor in chief,, said, “This innovative technology allows to use the medium of the Internet to capture the scale and drama of two of the major political events of the year. We believe that it will add a wonderful dimension to the richness of our continuous convention coverage.”

EventCam uses ten Canon PowerShot S60 to simultaneously capture a panoramic image. The PowerShot features a wide-angle 28mm lens. The images require Apple’s QuickTime Player for viewing.

In April, Chris Ramirez, a freelance photographer for The New York Times, created an interactive panorama photograph of the swearing in of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, before the 9/11 Commission. Jim Anders, president of Kaidan, Inc., saw the images and later met with Mr. Ramirez and developed an idea to form a cluster of cameras in a circle, synchronized to shoot with the single squeeze of a remote release.

In early July, EventCam was approved by the U.S. Senate Press Gallery for use during the conventions, a requirement due to its unusual appearance.

REALVIZ, a French panoramic software developer, was drafted to create the panoramic images. RealViz has a batch command and template functionality. Templates are used to cut down the time it takes to do repetitive tasks. The batch command runner can automate a large number of stitching processes.

Remote Reality has a mirrored ball ($495) for a one-shot 360 panoramic photography. It’s essential to get it in one shot if people are moving around. Stick it on a 5 megapixel Nikon 5000. Krinnicam is a remote shutter software for Nikon coolpix cameras that features automatic image downloading via USB. There you be.

Two, 5 Megapixel Nikon 5000 ($350 each) with two Nikon FC-E8 fisheyes ($150 each) might do the trick. The DigiSnap 5000 ($55) is a Cable Release Adapter, allowing the Coolpix 5000 to be controlled via a low cost shutter release cable, such as the Canon RS-60E3 ($30). Krinnicam remote shutter software can run on a laptop and provides automatic image downloading via USB. Panoweaver automates post-processing ($100) for one-shot panoramas and can automatically stich 2-3 hemispheres together.

The ACDsee Photosticher plug in ($29, above), which comes bundled with Pentax cameras, is based on RealViz software and may have potential for automated 360 degree panoramas. ArcSoft Panorama Maker 3 automatically processes image segments as does PixAround. Perhaps eight or so $100, 2 megapixel digital cameras could be synchronized to snap simultaneously. The images would need to be transfered to a laptop automatically (probably via USB). Then the individual images might be (automatically) assembled by a PhotoSticher. The panorama could then be ftped to a website automatically, every 5 minutes or so. An event panorama camera could be a valuable addition to “live” coverage.

Add an live MPEG-4 webcam (below) for live images with pan & tilt interactivity. The Space Needle Cam could be wireless and mobile. Toshiba’s Netcams ($500) use beautiful 1280 pixel CCDs (demo) and can pan over 120 degrees. Put 3-4 of these wireless units on a pole and grab frames anytime. Anywhere. Drop your captured frames in Pixaround or Panoweaver and you’re there.

Here’s a One Shot system (right), built using a glass ball (from a christmas tree) that cost $7. You can use the free PanoTools from Helmut Dersch to extract the panoramic image, rather than pay the per-image licence fee that other software requires. Panoweaver can stich two fisheye shots together. Newspapers buy $2,500 camera bodies without blinking. You don’t have to.

PhotoPC and Krinnicam can control a digital camera from a laptop while Harbortronics makes camera remote controllers. The Pocket C3 camera control center for Pocket PC is a remote control platform for cameras. Digital cameras with a serial interface can also be controlled remotely.

A high resolution digital camera can work as a webcam. Most still digital cameras don’t have the control software that runs on a PC. Canon and Nikon do. Canon Remote Capture works with pro D-SLRs while PSRemote Pro ($49) controls Canon Pro1, G3, G5, S1 IS, S50, S60, A75, A80 and IXUS cameras via the USB connection. Nikon’s Capture 4 Software works with their pro “D” series SLRs but Krinnicam works with consumer models like the Coolpix 885, 995, 4300, 4500, 5000 and 5700. Kodak’s Easyshare software seems to have potential but Kodak says their current cameras cannot be used as webcams. Using still cameras as live webcameras is largely undocumented. You’ll need to test it out.

The inimitable Phillip Torrone explains how to make stereo images (above).

The prototype Newsplex Blog used camphones for political convention coverage. They had a wireless Webcam mounted above their Newsflow Deck.

Videos were also created. This video report on gay marriage was shot with a Motorola V400 cell phone. The stills were uploaded to the moblog from the phone, downloaded to the Newsplex editorial desk then assembled with narrative and captions in Serious Magic Visual Communicator. The finished report was then converted to the .3pg video format used for mobile phones and uploaded back to the TextAmerica servers.

Other Sound + Picture software includes SoundPix Mobile – Treo Edition, Microsoft’s Photo Story 2 and Pocket PhotoShow.

I’ve always wanted to do a flat stitch out the window of the Portland Streetcar. The 2 mile route would be one BIG file, though. Maybe a virtual Roller Coaster would be more fun. On the Solstice weekend, June 19-21, more than 110 photographers in 32 countries around the world created VR panoramas with the common theme of World Heritage. This site showcases the results. Here’s a kit for Blimp aerial photography.

The Panocam and The Panoscan Mk 3 are rotating, slit-scan cameras. VR Seattle uses one. Essentially no post-processing is required since it creates a high resolution panorama by rotating the lens. The Panoscan system captures full, seamless 360 degree images in a single pass, eliminating the need for “stitching”. Medium resolution scans are complete and ready to view in 90 seconds. It enables (essentially) a 1000-1 digital zoom in high resolution mode. Check out these Megapixel panoramas and this Big One with gigapixel resolution and sharp, screen-resolution zooming to 1000X or more.

DailyWireless has more on 360 Degree Video, 360 Degree Video Blogs, Reality Now, Telepresence Now, and Seattle to Portland WiFi Link.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, July 30th, 2004 at 1:50 pm .

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