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Jan 17, 2009

Obama in 3D: Photosynth to Crowdsource Synth of the 44th Presidential Inauguration

Barack ObamaNext Tuesday, the eyes of the United States - and likely the world - will be on Washington, DC, as Barack Obama takes the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States. Attendance is likely to dwarf any presidential inauguration in history - with estimates currently predicting at least one million people at the event. Regardless of the attendance, one thing is for sure: with nearly ubiquitous access to cameras and video equipment, this will be the most well-documented inauguration, ever. Now, the Microsoft Photosynth team has announced that they will be making the event even more memorable - by creating a three-dimensional "synth" of the inauguration from your photos.

Photosynth - a service powered by Seadragon - allows a series of two-dimensional pictures to be stitched and interpolated into a three-dimensional representation of a moment in time. The more angles and photos, the more complete the rendering. So, the girth of photos from the inauguration will be particularly well-suited, given that there will be millions of images from thousands of different vantage points.


The Photosynth project is being run in conjunction with CNN.com as part of their "The Moment" sub-site.

"We'll take your photos from every angle, combine them with CNN's professional shots, and produce what we hope will be an amazing experience that will be shown live on CNN. And you thought the Jessica Yellin hologram was cool! The synth will also be available for everyone to see on CNN.com."

To participate:

1. Take one photo of the moment when Obama takes the oath. If you have a digital camera with a zoom lens, take three photos (wide-angle, mid-zoom, full-zoom)

2. E-mail each photo as soon as possible to themoment@cnn.com (one photo per message, 10MB size limit). Don't forget to include your name in the message if you'd like to appear in the list of the contributors. Please only send in photos you took yourself.

3. Go to cnn.com/themoment to see all of the photos in our photosynth

The good news? Anyone with a digital camera can participate and take part in recording history. In addition to the Photosynth project, all of the photos will also be shared via iReport. Then, there's the bad news. If you want to see the finished work in all its glory, you have to have access to a Windows machine. Photosynth is only fully supported support Vista and XP currently. But they do offer an experimental Silverlight-based Photosynth player for other platforms. (I used the experimental viewer and it worked very well.)

If you're planning to be in attendance at the inauguration, bring your camera. Otherwise, stay tuned to CNN.com The Moment and Photosynth for the results of this experiment.

(Photo credit Joe Crimmings Photography. Used under Creative Commons.)

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