Nodal Point Pan - Apollo 17 Panorama

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When the Apollo astronauts were on the moon they took images suitable for stitching into panoramas. In fact, some have even created Quicktime panoramas from these images.

Did you know you can do this sort of work in 3D without actually stitching the images together? Here is a partial panorama I "stitched together" in 3D space directly within Maya. It is a practical example which builds upon ideas I laid out in 3 previous blog entries.

Prerequisite Reading

Nodal Point Pan and Tile Part 3

Nodal Point Pan and Tile Part 2

Nodal Point Pan and Tile Part 1

A Partial Apollo 17 Panorama


Map a photo onto a plane within Maya. Make sure the plane has a shape proportional to the resolution of the image so that in mapping the plane you neither stratch nor squeeze the image.

Set Maya up to show high quality texture maps in hardware preview.

Place the photo far enough away from a Maya camera so as to fill the resolution gate with the plane. Make sure the Maya camera is at the ORIGIN of the world space.

Group the image so that its parent is a group centered at the ORIGIN.


Make a copy of the first image group.

Put a second image on the plane which is part of the second group.

View both groups from your ORIGIN camera.

Use your eye to ROTATE the second group about the ORIGIN such that the second image seems to tile with the first image.


Here's what you should see. You may find it useful to make one plane semi-transparent in order to help alignment. BE CAREFUL when using transparency to look for this alignment, however. The planes WILL and SHOULD only line up at the edge where they meet.


Repeat the process with a third image group.

Did the photographer use an panoramic head to carefully level the camera as it pans across the horizon? No, he didn't? Who cares? It doesn't matter.


As long as the photographer only panned and tilted when he took his photos it doesn't matter if he was level or not, as you can see from the example above.

You can repeat this process until you have a faceted shell of desired coverage.

Why does a faceted shell work? Why don't we see the sharp corners? Why isn't this a continuous sphere?

All good questions -- and all answered here:

Nodal Point Pan and Tile Part 3

Nodal Point Pan and Tile Part 2

Nodal Point Pan and Tile Part 1

Idea for making a continuous single image panorama

You usually don't need a single image for pan and tile work. If you insist on having one, you might be able to use a Mental Ray lens shader to render out the faceted shell into a single lattitude/longitude image.

UPDATE 7/29/2006

Microsoft Photosynth

Paul Haeberli's early work on automatic merging

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This page contains a single entry by published on April 16, 2006 11:02 PM.

Nikon D200 Black and White Photography was the previous entry in this blog.

Bright-for-Dark Photography is the next entry in this blog.

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