During a period of 24 hours in February, London was photographed 6,240 times in order to make the most detailed panorama in the world.
Contact lens retailer Lenstore partnered with Nikon and the Canary Wharf Group to create 24 Hour London – the world’s first time-lapse Gigapixel panorama.
The VR production company hired for the project was Bermondsey-based Visualise, the most experienced VR company in Europe.
“Shooting Gigapixel photos is hard – we have been shooting them for the Olympics, the World Cup,” Henry Stuart, the project lead and a member of Visualise said. “Each panorama is so large it needs specially built computers to process it.
“In this case, we had to build a special server system to network all of the work stations in our studio to the content so that we could stitch five of the photos at a time. Lucky it was the winter as the heat generated was keeping our whole block warm!”
A Gigapixel, as defined by Wikipedia, is a composed of one billion pixels; a Gigapixel itself is square, with height and width measuring both 32,768 pixels.
(For context, images included in the New’s articles usually measure 900 x 504 pixels).
In the 24 Hour London images – measuring 7.3 Gigapixels, meaning 7.3 billion pixels – there is not one pixel of discrepancy.
This means from the first image to the last image, taken an entire day later, each pixel is in the same exact point.
The project used robotic motion control technology that is typically used to take quick and accurate sweeping shots in Hollywood productions.
This was the first time that technology was used for a time-lapse photo.
“It is used nearly exclusively for film production,” Stuart said. “However, we needed a head that was heavy enough to mitigate the wind shaking the camera, and accurate enough to allow us to stitch the images together in exactly the same way for all 24 images.
“Incredibly this worked – the 24th photo is stitched to the exact template that was made for the first. Even we were surprised by its accuracy!”
The panorama was taken from the roof of Canary Wharf’s Canada One Square in February 2018.
“Shooting it was hard: There was a team of two of us, taking shifts through the day and night,” continued Stuart. “It was incredibly cold and windy.
“Each hour we made the trip to the corner of the roof, checked the light, adjusted our settings and set off the camera remotely – then rushed back inside to warm up again! We were in a building control room, sandwiched between all their electrics and air conditioning controls.”
The panorama was shot with a Nikon D850, which has a 45 megapixel sensor and a large dynamic range, so it could capture a wide range of light and dark, important in a 24 hour panorama.
The lens used was a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8, which shoots images with such accuracy that signs up to five miles away can be read clearly.
The link to the panoramas is here.