The Seattle Gigapixel Art Zoom

Having created gigapixel-sized (multi-billion pixel) images of cities, we found them fascinating to explore, but also surprisingly devoid of the most exciting part of a city, its people. Matt Uttendayle, Michael Cohen, Cindy Ball, and John Boylan set out to produce an image populated with interesting things to find, and the Seattle Gigapixel ArtZoom project was born. You can now enjoy it at

A Microsoft Research Creation

We first sought out the perfect rooftop to shoot such a panorama. We were lucky enough to find the roof of the Bay Vista condominium, and, thanks to the gracious owners, we were able to shoot a panorama that includes great views of Seattle Center, the Olympic Sculpture Park, the stadiums, Mt Rainier, Puget Sound, and Lake Union.

Beginning on a brilliant sunny day in October, we climbed up onto the roof with a Canon SLR and a professional 400mm lens, as well as a robotic head to capture our first panorama. We captured two half panoramas from opposite corners of the roof (this explains the seams you see). The full panorama consisted of more than 2500 20 Megapixel images stitched together using Microsoft Research’s Interactive Composite Editor (ICE).

We put out a call to seek out a set of artists and performers to be in the picture. Over the next few weeks, we climbed back up six more times to capture individual artists, acrobats, and other performers at dozens of locations visible in the panorama. These were captured again on a Canon SLR with lenses ranging from 400 to 600mm. While we captured the performers from the roof, videography crews filmed the events on the ground.

Back at Microsoft Research we stitched the panoramas into two 20 gigapixel half panoramas. Celso Gomes then composited the individual shots into the panorama. Meanwhile the footage from the ground and other media was assembled to create short video vignettes. Finally, we built a website that provides the world access to the panorama and other media.

The result is the Seattle Gigapixel Panorama. We hope you have as much fun exploring the imagery as we had creating it.

Creators: Matt Uttendayle, Michael Cohen, Cindy Ball, John Boylan

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