Microsoft Photosynth

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amanda's picture

What is Photosynth:

Photosynth03 Photosynth automatically stitches together your digital photographs to create a three-dimensional image.
It’s sort of like a still movie, perhaps. It’s just one object or location captured, but rather than being limited to capturing it in one photograph, you can take many photographs and capture the whole thing in detailed photos, and then they’re stitched together by Photosynth and you are then able to experience your photos in a very creative and fascinating way. You are able to move around, as if you were turning your head to see more of what’s around you, and zoom in as if you were moving closer towards something. It’s difficult to explain, so I would highly recommend you view some Synths created by others already. I have included some incredible Synths in this article below.

A wonderful thing about Photosynth is that you can download and install it for free. All you need is your Windows Live ID and you’re good to go.

How to use it:

Choose something for your Synth to be. An object, a building, a room full of people, etc. The more detailed the better. Then take a lot of photos, snap snap snap snap snap snap snap! You can’t take too many photos, the more photos you take the better your Synth will look/work. Make sure your photos are overlapping, zoom in and take plenty of close ups. Spin around and snap your surroundings if you want that to be included in your Synth. Upload them onto your computer.
Sign up with Photosynth using your Windows Live ID.

There is actually a video created by Photosynth giving you an easy to understand demonstration of how to create a Synth. There is also a Photosynth Photography Guide available for us all as a PDF.
You can find both of those at this link to the Photosynth website.

My experience downloading and installing Photosynth:

Photosynth01A wall that I hit but found my way around was this:
I had signed up with Photosynth, but I hadn’t uploaded any photos to be Synthd, so I hadn’t gotten as far as downloading Photosynth and installing it on my computer.. which resulted in the following confusion.

I attempted to view some Synths created by Tim, it simply wouldn’t allow me to view them.
First it asked me to sign in, so I did that, and tried to view them again. Still wouldn’t let me.
It asked me to install the software, so I did. Would you like to save this file? Yes.. save file. It downloaded in about five seconds. Then the Photosynth website told me when the download is complete, click the thumbnail to view the file. The site showed me a thumb picture of the Synth Tim had created that I'd been trying to view. I clicked it. It took me back to the same page that said to download the software. I ALREADY DID THAT! So after feeling stuck for a moment or two, I thought to open the software I had downloaded. Of course!! It needed to be INSTALLED now that it had downloaded. Silly me. Ok, setup wizard, next! I accept and agree and blahblahblah, next! Click install to begin, woo!! INSTALL! It took roughly one minute to Install. Finish! Is that it? I asked myself. Time to try and view that Synth by Tim, again. YAY, it worked!!!

So as you can see, the process to be able to view and use Photosynth is VERY SIMPLE! But, I had just missed something and it took me a while to figure out where I went wrong.

A couple of tips:

When viewing the Synths, they may appear black at first, but if you wriggle the mouse across the Synth, it’ll wake up and start loading the images. Also, sometimes when you hit play and watch the Synth run through all the photos similar to a slide show but moving around throughout the Synth you’ve created, sometimes it may change photos faster than it focuses on the photo, so to view photos that may not have focused in the Synth show before it changed, it’d be better to just navigate yourself around the Synth and view things at your own pace. But it is cool to just sit back and watch a Synth going through all it’s photos showing you around.

A Synth created by me:

Please note that this was my first attempt at creating a Synth, my photos were 78% synthy so that’s pretty good for a first go! You can view it here: The fish and reptile room.

Synths created by Tim:

Here are some Synths that my boss Tim has created himself:
Spyjournal’s Synths

Synths created by others:

Here are some Synths created by National Geographic and a Space shuttle one by NASA.

Some other incredible Synths to experience are:

Piazza San Marco (absolutely beautiful colours and incredible variety of detailed photos, brilliant Synth).
Nachu Picchu ruins (another incredible Synth).
Venice Grand Canal (so beautiful!)
Taj Mahal (I noticed in this one you can actually turn around completely to view your surroundings, very cool).
Grassi Lakes (incredible)
Stonehenge (pretty cool)
the US National Archives (wow)
Dale Chihuly glass sculpture exhibits (awesome). 

Take a look at this video of Photosynth being used in an episode of CSI New York.

Photosynth05Also, check out this unreal Photosynth project created by Darius: Challenge: Facial Reconstruction with Photosynth. 

In conclusion, Photosynth is an extremely cool tool you can have a lot of fun with. A whole new experience when sharing your photos with other people. To the team at Microsoft Live Labs who created Photosynth – tops!