Microsoft's GigaPixel ArtZoom is a digital 'Where's Waldo'

SEATTLE -- From the rooftop of a downtown Seattle condominium, researchers from Microsoft spent a clear October day using two-way radios and cameras with long lenses to create a large scale panorama for their Seattle Gigapixel ArtZoom Project.

Armed with a 22 megapixel Canon digital SLR camera, professional 400 and 600 millimeter lenses and Gigapan robotic tripod head, the team captured 2,369 images and stitched them together to create a 360 degree view of Seattle from the rooftop's point of view.

They wanted to showcase the online viewing capabilities they've developed that will allow users to navigate gigapixel scale image over the internet.

That's a photograph with billions of pixels, far more than the average monitor could display in fine detail. They did something similar in 2007 focusing on Seattle's skyline, but people are more interesting.

"We thought how could we embed in our beautify city panorama something about the life of the city," said one of the project's directors, Michael Cohen of Microsoft Research.

So they contacted members of Seattle's vibrant art community and were able to recruit roughly 75 artists, acrobats and performer and had them create projects in various odd places within view of their rooftop camera.

The result is an explorable, high-resolution, "Where's Waldo-esque" panorama that is available on the web for anyone to navigate for free.

The team captured two panoramas from opposite corners of the roof of the Bay Vista Condominiums. The base panorama was photographed in one day, but the researchers climbed to the rooftop six more times over the period of several weeks to photograph the artists scattered throughout the city.

All the photos where stitched together using Microsoft's Image Composite Editor software, called ICE, which is available for free from Microsoft Research.The final result is a 20 gigapixel panorama that can be explored in amazing detail.

Once viewers find an artist, a window appears with more information about the art work or performance including a video vignette from ground level on how that art project was created.

You can explore for yourself at