Friday, August 22, 2008

Photosynth - '3D' pictures of biblical sites

Back in June I noted that Microsoft had offered the Photosynth online site in beta. It is now out of beta and fully up and running. (Reviews and videos here at CNET and here at PCMag.) Some observations:

  • It's FREE!
  • I have had mixed results running it in Firefox. It works fine in IE7.
  • It is not true 3D, but it is a remarkable way of getting a fuller sense of a location.
  • There are a number of biblical sites available for viewing. Check out sites in Turkey (including Izmir, Istanbul, Pergamum, Ephesus, Miletus...) or Greece (mainly just Athens).
  • There are also a couple of Bibles (Gutenberg and Mainz) from the Library of Congress.
The really neat thing is that it is quite easy to create your own Photosynth images. To make a truly 'synthy' pic (i.e., with lots of overlapping views), you need to plan your strategy in advance. I did, however, create one simply using some pics I already had taken of Beit Shean. Click on the graphic to see my trial which was as easy as uploading a bunch of pics.
In my June post, I had also noted the OpenPhotoVR site. It also can be used to create this kind of '3D' pic, but Photosynth does it automatically whereas OpenPhotoVR requires (and sometimes better results might be possible) editing to describe the views.

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