GigaPanGoogle Earth

Google Earth GigaPan: Disappointing (?)

By August 23, 2007 5 Comments

All of our posts so far have been positive about Google Earth, it has quite frankly changed the way we view geographically distributed information. We are however not so sure on the implementation of the new feature to view giga pixel imagery via the photo overlay element of KML 2.2, at least not for panoramic images.

The process of uploading a giga pixel panorama to ready it for viewing in Google Earth is itself relatively straight forward:

Step 1:

Register with GigaPan (Beta) – GigaPan is a new service allowing users to upload high resolution imagery for viewing in Google Earth;

Step 2:

Download the GigaPan Uploader and upload your image. The image does not have to be panoramic but it must be saved as a .TIF with LZW compression.

Once uploaded the image is made available on your home page, ready to be placed interactively in Google Earth via their near realtime web based interface – as pictured above right.

The images field of view, location and heading can be adjusted. Once you are happy with your location the changes can be saved and the panorama is ready to view and share via Google Earth.

It is at this point where the experience of viewing giga pixel imagery disappoints – although we do note that it is beta and therefore subject to refinement.

The YouTube movie below displays our completed High Dynamic Range panorama of the Quad at University College London in Google Earth:

The initial transition inside the panoramic image is smooth and impressive, sadly once inside navigation is jumpy and the image is prone to flipping while panning around. A join line is also visible when viewing full 360×180 degree panoramas and the panorama disappears from view when exiting the image.

We realise that this is a beta release and we are slightly biased having created our own method to view panoramas in Google Earth some time ago.

The YouTube movie below displays our own outputs and as such we can’t help feeling disappointed by GigaPan.

If we can map the tiled image output from our labs Google Image Cutter software onto geometry then we may have a more intuitive way to view panoramas with the new overlay feature.

See our original tutorial and example files for viewing panoramas in Google Earth.

Is it just us that are not taken with the new panorama feature?


Andy is Professor of Digital Urban Systems at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.