Building a Gigapxl Camera
Starts presentation with panorama of San Diego.
Shows how tight you can get. But lots of cameras can get that clarity at the middle of the image, few can at the edge.
What is it useful for? Many things you need this resolution. One is virtual reality. The real feature of v reality is to create a virtual environment that is indistinguishable from reality. You need a wraparound image. Best examples are imax theaters or planetariums. Wherever you look, it has to challenge your 20/20 vision. If you take a hemisphere and cover it, you need 75 megapixels. But if you're going to explore it, you need to zoom in 10/1, you need 7 gigapixels. This is just for a static image.
Why use film in the digital age? It's all in the numbers. We're capturing 4x10^9 pixels in 1/200 second. When we digitize it, we're getting 48 bits per pixel. That means we're capturing 40 terabits per second. No digital system can capture data this quickly.
What we've done is taken each one of these steps-steps between scene and camera-and balanced them, reduced the information loss.
He built the camera around old film magazines used in U2 missions in the cold war. Gives a 9x18 inch film area, at 25 megapixels/sq. in.
Need to choose focal length: if too short, film resolution dominates. Focal length too long, atmospheric blurring dominates.
Looking at landscapes in the west, optical focal length is 200-300mm. But problem is that you have 500 mm on the diagonal. So focal length is half distance to film, so this is equivalent to ultra wide angle.
Problem is getting clarity around the edges.
Had to design own lens. Took a year on the computer. Has eight elements (compared with the regular of six). Built four lenses, and each is near perfect.
Must focus lens to half 1/1000 of an inch.
What are we doing with it? We've got a warm-up project called portrait of America. We go to a chamber of commerce and ask what they're most proud of, then we take it. It's taken 3 years and 100000 miles of driving.
From there, there's been a great deal of interest in this thing. Now hovering around 2 million visitors a day on the website. Michael Jones CEO of Google earth thinks we should go international and record sites on earth that can't be preserved, like city of Rome, whose limestone is being eaten away by acid rain. 788 world heritage sites at risk. We're working with second generation cameras. We'll need two teams of photographers.
Right now we can only do this on film, but that's going to grange. U of Hawaii working on PanSTARRS, design to photograph huge areas of the sky. Massive parallel-4000 512 by 512 CCD arrays. Like 4000 TVs working together. 1.07 gigapixels. Operational in 2006.
Emerging display technology: Working with Evans & Sutherland. 4000 by 8000 pixel screen. That's 32 megapixels. Next generation will be 128 megapixels-16 feet diagonal.
Ends with the photos of the paragliders at Torrey Pines.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.