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— urbantick

Tag "smallWorld"

Cities are growing and more and more percent of the world population are living in urban areas. This is a fairly well known and often quoted line. However how this might come to look like we don’t know yet. Will we be living in a massive city island surrounded by desert, jungle, mountain or water? Or might it be a continuos city spanning the whole planet, very much in the sense of the Small World timeLapse produced last year in London?
In the laboratories of the ETH in Zurich, Kaiersrot manufactured a arge cale model of such a small world city using digital manufacturing techniques. The ‘design’ of the spere is generated by an algorithm and then manufactured from cardboard in a PappPlot tehcnique, were sustainable card board is cut and glued together by a machine, layer by layer.
The product is described as “It is a city on a sphere, but not necessarily a global city, maybe a city globe: endless – or better – beginningless. There is neither periphery nor center. The city’s openness is simultaneously based on its seclusion. Once within one can never leave again. The city has a specific form; its physical presence is obvious. Nevertheless, the city can never be experienced in its totality.” And yes it becomes difficult to map the sphere on a flat piece of paper. This is interesting regarding urban planning. Not only a spherical city can not be mapped entirely correct on a flat paper, but it serves very well as a obvious example of the complications of perspective and reality.
It was shown at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam ‘Open City: Designing Coexistence’ last year, with Kees Christiaanse from KCAP as the curator.

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In the context of the Small World time Lapse series I was obviously interested in what else is going on in this field of panoramic photography. Just by chance I also came across new smart camera cars in the neighborhood. I approached them and we had a chat about their work.
They were expecting me to ask about Google Street View. They responded by apologizing for not working for Google and it turned out they work for the London based company 360viewmax (it was printed in rather big letter all over the small car) and they are doing a job for Islington council. It appears that the council has discovered the value of Street View for their purpose. They want to use it for maintenance survey. What that is I haven’t really figured out.
How it works is quit complicated at it involves two people in the car. There is a secondary quite big writing on the back of the small car: “Caution this vehicle stops frequently“. Meaning what it says, the car stops every 20 meters or so to take a picture. It is kind of done manually. Beside the driver the second person in the car has a laptop with GIS information on a map. The location of the image is, I believe manually input into the GIS system. GPS as they have told me is only used for rough navigation as they say it is not accurate enough. Compared to this the Google cars just drive along the road and take photographs on the go. The argument of 360viewmax is that they want to deliver high quality images with a lot of detail. The installation on the roof of the car is three Nikon p6000 cameras. Funny enough the cameras have a built in GPS module but it is not use.
However, there is a cool demonstration of it on the 360viewmax webpage (I had some issues with Firefox this morning when I tried it, but it worked on Safari). You can click into an Islington neighborhood and down to street level to jump into bubbles of 360 panoramas. The interface is rather crude and located somewhere in a GIS technical engineer kind of world. Maybe they develop at some point a neat designed consumer interface.

Images by 360viewmax – screenshot – plan overview, panorama, zoomed in on a car

There has been this huge debate about privacy around Google Street View and they where forced to blur faces and number plates. In this council version of Street View however these elements are not blurred and number plates can be read for example.
In terms of Google Street View, it has sparked a lot of controversy, especially around the launch of it in a new area. I remember the fuzz about it in London for a week, when it first launched earlier this year. And just a month ago the launch in Switzerland sparked the same discussion. Now in London there is hardly any comment on it in the news, apart from the odd use of the service to visualize a location. Also in everyday conversation the fear for losing privacy has been replaced by curiosity and acknowledgment. People speak about it as a useful tool, mainly saying: it is great to see a location that you are not at. Then they bring the excuse of planning for a journey and it would help to orientate in unfamiliar surrounding. We’ll it might do but come on it does not really replace being there. It is related to the phenomenon of the photograph and the discussion of truth. In general photographs are believed to be a true image of reality and therefore Google Street View is in this view a digital replication of the actual scenery at this location. So it urges the question whether it is live and people can be seen, because people identify with it so intensively that it becomes a virtual reality.
However if you are interested to know where the real Google Street View cars drive a t the moment Google has finally disclosed this information. Not in detail, but you get an idea what areas are getting mapped at the moment and the chances are that you come across a Google camera car. You can click here.

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Images by The monument View Project – Screen shots on 2009-08-11

Looking back at the London Small World clip I produced a few weeks ago, there is some contextual stuff that should be published along side.
One such project is the London Monument View. It is quite simply what the title suggest and in short the 365/24/7 version of London Small World. It is a camera with a 360 degree lens that is installed on top of Monument in London. It gives a live webcam image and also a previous day time lapse.
It is an art project by Chris Meigh-Andrews installed in 2008 during the renovation of the Monument. The idea is to process the images according to environmental data. In detail this means the orientation of the images corresponds with the wind direction, the air temperature influences the colour tone and the wind speed the speed of the image stream.
The construction on top of the monument looks like this; funny enough the glass jar in the middle is the actual lens case, so quite small and the weather station taking a lot of space.

PastedGraphic.scg3nhOfXSMC.jpgPastedGraphic3.c0FoW0tikpHm.jpgPastedGraphic1.fYZwub0Oo3u1.jpgImages by Chris Meight-Andrews – Finished installation, environmental sensors, lens VR360

The environmental sensing equipment is the same as Andy Hudson-Smith over at digitalurban uses. He has a live page that also works on the iPhone.
To see today’s Monument panorama go here there is also a log book where you can access any data in 2009. If you are interested in today’s time lapse click here you probably have to wait a second for the clip to load.

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London Small World was posted last week here on the blg. The 360 VR timelapse processing has been very tricky. Some result was on the blog earlier this month, but it was a complicated workflow and the result has raised some questions and eyebrows.
The main problem arises from shooting scenes with different zoom settings. At first the idea was to zoom right in to the mirror to allow for as much resolution of the focused 360 area as possible. This has become less and less important because of the fact that there is enough pixels anyway for HD use with 5mp capture settings and I also realized that the frame and the background, usually the sky around the mirror make for a good backdrop. The first trial was run on the bases of a cutout version of the mirror set in a white space. The HD dimensions did not really matter, later with the requirements of the background the dimensions and the proportions became important or rather defining.

Image by UrbanTick

Having this variety of zooms it makes it virtually impossible to get an insinc version out, using the current scenes. Solution, going out a shoot some more. It has to be seen as a go experiment and some conclusions have to be drawn from it. So, for me this means, think about the workflow and requirements of each step of the work flow first! And then go out and take pictures. Well it wouldn’t be fun anymore if we’d known everything beforehand, would it. The experiment is the exiting bit, isn’t it.
Anyway some more tests with a more elaborated workflow using FinaCut or AfterEffects to adjust and aline the image content.

2min15 London Small World from urbanTick on Vimeo.

The conclusion is basically that I will go out again and capture some more material. I will be using a more strict set of camera settings to make sure the raw material is easier to compile.

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Finally the new timeLapse animation is here. It was shot quite quickly in two days, while having reasonable August weather. The editing process was more of a problem, though. It is shot with a G9, some 1480 stills. While using the 360 VR this was quite an installation and there are issues with the zoom level. Because this has to be done manually it is different in each scene and this proofed a problem in the editing process. Photoshop is a helpful tool and without the batch function there would be no timeLapse, but for synchronizing the frame over different scenes it is quite tricky. I know video editing software would do the trick, but the rendering process would consume about the same amount of time.

Image by UrbanTick – StoryBoard

Anyway here it is, with eleven scenes from around central London (I know I should get out once! Any suggestions for places?) Funny enough I spent two days sitting underneath the tripod and studying the scenes. The angle of the VR mirror allows for sitting underneath so I dono appear in all the scenes, but still in a couple of them. In the empty Gordon Square I had to use some bread to attract pigeons otherwise it would have been a bit boring. Other scenes like the Millennium Bridge it as too crowded there was no need for intervention. Sorry for the shaking in this particular scene, but the bridge is in motion because of the crowd. If you sit (like me) or stand there for a while, you can feel it.
So the little worlds are up now, and maybe you spot yourself in the clip somewhere.

London Small World from urbanTick on Vimeo.

music by bradsparky at m3unsigned.com

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Some still of the scenes I have been shooting the last few days. It will be an other London timelapse eventually, but requires some image processing that takes a bit longer. But anyway I thought they look beautiful even as stills.


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I am out again today. This time with a new add-on to the camera. A 360 VR lens that we managed to fit on the G9. It takes a few steps to mount it. The Canon adapter for the G9 that will provide 58mm ring. On o this I found a step up ring in one of the Tottenham court road shops that takes it from 58mm to 67mm. The diameter for the VR module. I have to say the Canon adapter is plastic and is not very stable, especially because the VR is quite long. is is about twice the size of the camera body!
It creates these beautiful small world images through the centrical perspective, very much a visualization for the mental map, individual perception topic, but better than the gas advert.
A first test shot from this morning within CASA.

tlSmallWorld_CASA from urbanTick on Vimeo.

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