About The Technical Preview

What's new about this technical preview?
The new Photosynth technology in this preview combines the tactile smoothness and extreme resolution of a stitched panorama with the kind of motion through space that you see in video. It takes you on a smooth tour of a space while also allowing you to "scrub" to any location smoothly, and it gives you access to every pixel from every photo.
How do I sign up for the technical preview?
Everyone in the world can view the new Photosynth technology in this preview, but you need to sign up to create the new synths. When we confirm your signup, we'll send you an email with instructions as to what to do next. (Make sure you mark ps-norep@email.microsoft.com as a safe sender on your email client to prevent emails from the Photosynth Team from going to the junk folder.)
I'm new. What do I need to get started creating synths?
First, we recommend you watch our short video on how to shoot a synth. Then, sign up for the technical preview and receive a confirmation. Beyond that, you only need a camera and a computer to start creating your own synths—even a phone camera will do. You might also read the Expert Shooting Guide while you wait for your confirmation.
What are the system requirements to view synths?
The synths made with the technology of this technical preview work on the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. (Safari users need to manually enable WebGL.)
In addition, to view the interactive synths, your system must support WebGL. To run WebGL, your system needs a modern graphics card and processor. If WebGL is not supported on your system, we display a view-only movie version of the synth for you. To check if your system can run WebGL, visit http://get.webgl.org.
If you still can't view an interactive synth, your browser may be using compatibility mode to display it. Check your browser's settings and disable compatibility mode for the page displaying the synth.
Is Photosynth free?
Yes! The Photosynth apps, tools, and service are all free provided that you follow our Terms of Use. You can make synths, view them, share them with others, and embed them on your blog or website all for free—even if your synths are commercial in nature. Each account has 20GB of space for public content and 1GB of space for unlisted content.

Capturing Synths

What's a synth?
A synth is a collection of overlapped photos together with the 3D information we've calculated about them. In the original Photosynth technology (still available on our main site), the information was limited to the locations and orientation of the camera for each photo. In the new technology, we are also modeling some of the 3D geometry revealed in the analysis. This geometry is what makes moving through these new generation synths a lot smoother than the original ones.
What are the fundamentals for shooting for the new Photosynth technology?
  • Each point in the scene you are shooting must be present in at least three photos. Heavily overlap your shots. This is the most important rule of thumb for using Photosynth.
  • You can shoot up to 200 photos, but 20–50 photos usually works well.
  • Take all your photos at the same zoom level. (Although, wide-angle photos usually make richer synths.)
  • Landscape mode works better than portrait mode, but stay in the same mode for a whole sequence.
  • Photos you upload should be at least 1.5 megapixels in resolution.
  • Do not crop or straighten your photos. Doing that confuses Photosynth.
  • Your photo sequence must form one of four simple shapes: a spin, panorama, wall, or walk.
What is the best way to learn to take impressive synths?
First, watch our short video on how to shoot a synth and then read the Expert Shooting Guide.
What are the different types of synth?
The four different shapes of the new synths are the spin, panorama, wall, or walk.

How do I choose what shape to use for a particular location?
Think about the smooth path of photos you will be producing.
  • If your motion is basically forward relative to the direction of shooting, you're making a walk.
  • If your motion is sideways relative to the shooting direction, you are making a spin if your shooting path is curved and you are generally pointing toward some central location (even if this central location is obscured).
  • If your motion is sideways relative to the shooting direction, you are making a panorama if your shooting path is curved and you are shooting away from some point behind you.
  • If your motion is sideways relative to the shooting direction, but neither of the above cases apply, you are making a wall.
How do I shoot a panorama?
Stand in one spot and rotate the camera around you, making sure to get lots of overlap between your photos. Shoot in landscape mode, and at a wide focal length. The Expert Shooting Guide explains in more detail about the different kinds of panoramas you can shoot.
How do I shoot a walk?
Shoot a walk in the direction of movement of the camera, making sure to get lots of overlap between your photos. Shoot in landscape mode, and at a wide focal length. You can turn corners, but the sharper the corner you turn, the more disorienting it is for viewers. Shoot many photos—up to the maximum of 200.
How do I shoot a spin?
Select a point to keep roughly in the center of your frame for every shot. This point can be obvious and visible or one that you visualize. Think of it as the center of gravity of your spin, and try to keep your camera pointing toward it in all shots.
Shoot in landscape mode, and at a wide focal length. Shoot at least 20–30 photos, making sure to overlap your shots a lot. If you are trying to capture something with many holes, shoot 40 or more photos as you move around the object to reduce 3D artifacts.
If you shoot all the way around an object, do not inadvertently spiral in or spiral out when completing the loop. The easiest way to complete a clean loop is to put a marker on the ground where you shot the first frame, then make sure you shoot the last frame from the exact same spot.
Turntable Shots: The rule of thumb for turntables is to make anything that doesn't rotate disappear. In practice, this means that any non-rotating background needs to be as featureless as possible.
How do I shoot a wall?
Take wall shots at approximately 90 degrees from the direction of movement of the camera. Vary that angle as the scene requires, but don't change your shooting angle (even gradually) by more than 45 degrees. Shoot in landscape mode, and at a wide focal length. Shoot many photos (up to the maximum of 200), making sure to get lots of overlap between your photos. Shoot a few extra photos at each end of the wall (beyond the normal three-view overlap).
Can I use a D-SLR? A point-and-shoot camera? A mobile device? A Go-Pro camera?
Yes. However, a small number of cameras don't provide EXIF/XMP metadata, which the new Photosynth technology uses. If you upload a photo missing this metadata, Photosynth warns you about it.
Can I use a camcorder or other type of movie recorder?
Yes, but we do not support direct upload of video, so you will need to convert the video to still images and thin out or reduce your frame rate before uploading. Video is usually shot at 30 frames per second. Since Photosynth usually needs no more than one frame every half second, you should drop at least 14 out of every 15 frames. Also, frames from video (even 1080p HD video) are very low resolution and noisy compared to almost any digital photo. So, while creating a synth from a video sounds good, viewing one made from video isn't as appealing. As sensors continue to improve and video quality gets better, this may change, but for now the results are almost always visually disappointing.
Can I edit my photos before uploading?
You can tweak color and contrast, but you should not apply any effects that add or subtract significant texture from the photos. (Photosynth uses this texture when matching photos together.) Also, do not crop your photos. Cropping changes the fundamental geometry of the photos as understood by Photosynth, and your results are likely to be poor. Do not apply sharpening, and be very careful about any changes that you apply only to a portion of each image. In general, if you plan to touch up your photos, synth an unmodified version first so you have a baseline for what to expect from Photosynth before you start to make modifications.
How are the synths in the technical preview different from previous synth/panorama technology?
The first synth technology, released in 2008, was about combining a completely unstructured set of overlapping photos. Photos used to make a synth could be taken from many different locations and include different zoom levels. The resulting experience was powerful, but the transitions were often jarring—and sometimes downright confusing.
In 2010, we added spherical panoramas, one obvious way to constrain the shooting experience and simplify the viewing experience. Spherical panoramas have the property that all photos are (or are assumed to be) shot from exactly the same position in 3D space. The only difference between the photos is where the camera is pointed. This worked well for environments with good lines of sight from a simple place (for example, the middle of a room), but it isn't the right solution for all spaces.
Our newest Photosynth technology constrains a set of photos in a different and complementary way. In the new technology, photos are shot so that the result can be viewed by moving along a single understandable path. This experience allows complete predictability of motion and is delightfully touch-friendly. Of course, these intentional constraints are far less general than the original Photosynth, so for now there are still some situations where the original technology is a better solution. These situations primarily involve cases where zooming is absolutely required, such as seeing both the grand sweep of the view from the rim of the Grand Canyon and being able to zoom in on rock formations miles away.

Website Sign In/Account Access

How can I access the technical preview site directly without going through the main site's home page?
How do I access the main Photosynth site from the technical preview?
Select "main site" from the dropdown menu next to the Photosynth logo on the top left of the page. Alternatively, you can type http://photosynth.net directly in your browser's address bar.
I've lost my password. How do I reset my password?
Reset your Microsoft account password here.
Can I change my Photosynth user name?
Yes. However, your user name is shared between the technical preview and the main site, so any changes you make will impact both sites.
To change your user name in the technical preview, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Once you have signed in, click on the chevron next to your user name in the upper right corner of the screen and select " settings." Type a new user name and click "save." Your user name will be automatically updated once you click " save." Changing your user name won't have any impact on your synths or links to your synths. However, changing your user name will break any existing links to your Photosynth library.
I've updated my email address in the technical preview, but Photosynth doesn't let me sign in using that email address.
You sign in to the Photosynth technical preview (and the Photosynth main site) using your Microsoft account user name, which is your Microsoft account email address. The email address you provide for Photosynth in the technical preview for us to send notifications is saved separately. You can change the email you want us to use to send notifications, but that does not change your Microsoft account user name. To change your Microsoft account user name, sign in to your Microsoft account and change your account alias.

Uploading and Processing

What kinds of image formats does this technical preview support?
Only JPG. Convert other image formats to JPG before uploading. Each JPG photo must also be smaller than 20MB in size.
How many photos can I process into a single synth?
You must use at least three photos and can use no more than 200. If you've captured an amazing 1,000-photo journey along a trail, you'll have to make five separate walk synths from this. We're hoping to allow you to link these together into a connected experience for your viewers in a future update.
The upload is very slow. What can I do about that?
The number and size of the photos you are uploading as well as your upload bandwidth to the Internet determines the upload time. You can speed up your upload by using your favorite photo editor to reduce the resolution and/or the JPG compression quality of your photos. However, don't reduce the JPG compression quality below 0.5 or the resolution below 1.5 megapixels. Also, if you've captured a great sequence that you're looking forward to sharing with people, we don't recommend reducing the resolution because doing so prevents viewers from being able to zoom in and see all the interesting details.
How long will it take to process my synth once my photos upload?
The time it takes to process a synth depends on many variables and isn't easily predicted. Most synths take less than 15 minutes to process. Synths are queued as they are uploaded and await processing. A longer queue may affect the processing time of your synth. By default, Photosynth sends out an email notification when a synth has been processed and is ready to view.
How do I know when my synth has completed processing?
By default, Photosynth sends out an email notification when a synth has been processed and is ready to view.
On Windows 8, I can't upload more than a single file at a time from my USB device. What should I do?
Copy the files to your hard drive and upload them from there.

Privacy, Rights, and Commercial Use

Can anyone view the synths I upload?
Only if you want them to be able to. Any synth can be unlisted. Making a synth unlisted doesn't make it completely private, but it does keep it from being found by other users with a web search or through exploration in the Photosynth main site. You can still share direct links to unlisted synths, but when you share unlisted direct links, you're letting that unlisted synth out into the wilds of the Internet. Anyone with a copy of that link can then see your unlisted synth. (Here are the details of our privacy statement.)
How do I know which license to assign to my synth?
See the Creative Commons website for more details on your options.
Can I use my synths commercially?
Yes. If you have real estate, businesses, locations, or products you want to promote, you can create synths using Photosynth and embed the results in your website or blog. Currently, we do not offer an enterprise version of the product, nor do we offer any form of access control. Using Photosynth is a great way to promote a place or product publicly, but not the right choice if you need to closely control who can see your synths.
How do I prevent others from seeing the geographical location of where I took my synth?
Photos that come from a mobile device may have GPS data included with the photo. We encourage you to allow us to retain this data for public synths in public places so that your synth will appear on the map. However, for unlisted synths or synths inside your home you may want to delete this information. Here's how you can remove the geographical location from a synth at creation time or afterwards.
  1. To create a synth that does not display its geographical location, uncheck the "save my synth's location and show it to viewers" in step 4 of the creation process. This checkbox will only be displayed if at least one of the images in your synth contains GPS coordinates.
  2. To remove the geographical location from an existing synth that you own, log in to Photosynth and display the synth in your browser. Click on the "synth information" button in the bottom left corner of the screen. Click "edit" below the synth's map. Uncheck the "show the location of my synth to viewers" checkbox and click "save." Click "yes" on the confirmation dialog. This will permanently remove all GPS coordinates from the synth itself and each of the individual photos in the synth.

Viewing

Where are my synths? Where is my library?
If you've uploaded photos and can't find them on the site, make sure you are signed in. After you sign in, click your user name in the upper right corner of the technical preview and you will see your synth library. Swipe to the right (or click and drag with your mouse) to see more of your synths.
How do I view and interact with a synth?
Synths follow a specific path. Swipe (or click and drag with your mouse) horizontally or vertically to navigate along the synth path. You can also pinch (or double click) to zoom in on a specific image to get a closer look. Once you are zoomed in, zoom all the way out to continue navigating the synth.
Where is my old Photosynth content?
Older synths are still accessible from the main site.
Where can I search and explore other users' synths?
You can explore other users' synths by choosing one of the views in the Explore dropdown in the top navigation bar. The following views are available:
  • "featured synths" to see the synths the Photosynth editorial team has selected to showcase,
  • "my feed" to see the synths created by all the users you follow,
  • "recent favorites" to see the most liked synths that were created in the past week,
  • "all time favorites" to see the most liked synths ever, and
  • "recent synths" to view the most recently added synths.
Where can I see the synths I've liked?
To see the synths you've previously liked, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Once you have signed in, click on the chevron next to your user name in the upper right corner of the screen and select "my favorites."
I found a synth that I think violates the Terms of Use. What do I do?
Launch the synth that violates the Terms of Use and click "report abuse" in the information view. Tell us your concerns and describe the issue so that we can help address it. (We handle any report according to the terms of our privacy statement.)
How is a synth selected for the Featured Synths view?
The Photosynth editorial team selects the synths that are showcased on the Featured Synths view. Their decision is based on the subject matter, quality, originality and timeliness of the synths.

Commenting

How do I leave a comment on a synth?
To leave a comment on a synth, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Display the synth you want to comment on and click on the "comment" button in the bottom left corner of the screen. Type your comment where it says "Add your comment" and press "enter" on your keyboard.
Can I delete comments?
To delete a comment on a synth, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. You can delete comments you posted yourself on any synth and comments posted on a synth you created. To delete a comment on a synth, you must first log in to your Photosynth account. Display the synth with the comment you want to remove and click on the "comment" button in the bottom left corner of the screen. Scroll through the comments pane to the comment you want to remove. Click on the "x" for that comment. Click "yes" on the confirmation dialog.
How do I report an inappropriate comment?
You can delete comments posted on synths you created. For other comments, click on the "report abuse" link in the information view of the synth with an inappropriate comment. Tell us your concerns and describe the issue so that we can help address it. (We handle any report according to the terms of our privacy statement.)

Editing

How do I edit the properties of a synth?
To edit the properties of a synth, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Launch the synth you want to edit and click "edit." You can update the title, description, starting frame, synth location, visibility settings, and photo rights of any synth you have created. Click "save." Your changes may take a few minutes to take effect. You can only edit synths that you have created.
How do I set the starting point on my synth?
To change the starting frame of a synth, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Launch the synth you want to edit and dismiss the information view by clicking away from it. Move the synth to the new desired starting frame. Click on the synth title peeking in the bottom left of the screen to bring up the information view, and click "edit." Click "set this frame as starting view" to set the new starting point to the current image. Click "save." Your changes will take a few minutes to take effect.
How do I delete a synth?
To delete a synth, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Launch the synth you want to delete and click "delete." Confirm that you want to delete the synth. You can only delete synths that you have created.

Highlights

What is a highlight?
A highlight is a visual annotation on a synth.
How do I create a highlight on my synth?
To create a highlight, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Launch a synth that you created. You can only add highlights to synths that you created yourself. Click on the "new highlight" icon at the bottom of the screen. Type in an optional caption and click "save."
How do I edit a highlight?
To edit a highlight, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Launch the synth that contains the highlight you want to edit. Hover over the highlight and click "edit."
You can edit the following properties of a highlight:
  • Caption: You can type an optional textual description for the highlight. Your text can include a URL if you want to reference something else on the Web.
  • Position: You can drag the highlight to a different position on the screen.
  • Thumbnail: You can change the size of the highlight by grabbing the resize control on the side of the highlight. Changing the size of the highlight changes its representation on the synth and the thumbnail in the highlight gallery in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Visibility range: You can specify on which frames the highlight is displayed. Visibility options include:
    • Automatic (default): Let Photosynth analyze the geometry of your synth and select when best to show the highlight.
    • Show on all frames: Show the highlight on every single frame of the synth.
    • Only show on current frame: Show the highlight only on the frame where you created the highlight.
    • Manual: Specify the specific range of frames where the highlight is displayed. Move the control's points to the specific frames where the highlight should start and stop being visible and click "done." The frame where the highlight was created must be included in the visibility range.

Once you are done making changes, click "save."
How do I delete a highlight?
To delete a highlight, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Launch the synth that contains the highlight you want to delete. Hover over the highlight and click "delete." Click "yes" to confirm you want to delete the highlight.
How do I hide highlights?
There are two ways to hide highlights. First, you can click "hide highlights" above the highlight gallery in the bottom right of the screen. This will both hide the highlight gallery and hide all highlights on the synth. Alternatively, you can click on the "full screen" icon at the bottom of the screen. Highlights are not shown in full screen mode.
Why can't I see highlights on a synth I know to have highlights?
Highlights are only displayed on screens with a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels or higher. Highlights are not shown in full screen mode.

Notifications

I asked to have an email notification sent to me when my synth completed, but I never received one. What gives?
It may take several minutes (or longer, depending on the length of the synth queue) for your synth to process, so we may not have sent the email notification yet. If it's been quite a while, check your junk email folder to see if the notification was routed to it. (Add ps-norep@email.microsoft.com address to your list of safe senders to prevent your email notifications from being sent to your junk email folder in the future.)
How do I update the email address used to send me notifications?
To update your email address, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Once you have signed in, click on the chevron next to your user name in the upper right corner of the screen and select "settings." Type a new email address and click "save." Once you click "save," we send a confirmation email to the new email address to verify this change. Click on the link provided in the email to confirm your change of email address. (We use your previous email account for any email communication until you have verified your new email address, so please confirm your change promptly.)
Why am I not receiving any email notifications from Photosynth?
You may not have verified your email address. To verify your email address, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Once you have signed in, click on the chevron next to your user name in the upper right corner of the screen and select "settings." Click on the "resend verification email" link underneath your email address. You will then be sent a confirmation email at that email address. Open the email message and click on the "Click this link to verify your email address with Photosynth." You will start receiving new email notifications a few minutes after verifying your email address. If you don't see this email message in your inbox, it may have been redirected to your junk mail folder.
How do I stop receiving email notifications from Photosynth?
To change your email notification preferences, you must first sign in to your Photosynth account. Once you have signed in, click on the chevron next to your user name in the upper right corner of the screen and select "settings." Uncheck the checkbox for any of the email notifications you do not wish to receive. Click "save." To completely remove your email address from our system, simply delete your email address in the email address textbox and click "save."

Sharing and Embedding

How do I share a synth on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr?
Display the synth you want to share and click on the icon matching the social network you want to share to. Follow the instructions from that social network to sign in and share the synth.
How do I share a direct link to my synth?
Display the synth you want to share and click on the "link" icon. You can copy and paste this link anywhere you would normally paste a link.
How can I embed a synth in my blog?
Display the synth you want to embed and click on the "embed" icon. Select the HTML code in the embed text box and copy it. Paste this copied HTML snippet into the blog or web page that you want to embed the synth into. (You will need to paste the HTML code into the editing view of your blog or page.)
Click "show options" to reveal additional refinements you can use to modify the HTML in the embed text box. Be sure to copy the HTML after you have finished updating the options.
  • Synth size: Specifies the embedded synth's size in pixels (width by height).
  • Delay load: Delays loading the synth until the user explicitly clicks on the synth to load it.
  • Automatically play: Tells the synth to start playing automatically once it loads.
  • Show caption underneath: Displays the title, creator, and description of the synth below the synth itself.
  • Show highlights: Displays any highlights you have created for your synth.
  • Show Photosynth teaser: Briefly displays a small teaser about Photosynth.

Exporting

How can I save a synth on my computer?
You can't save a synth to your computer. We do not have an offline format or an offline viewer.
Can I export the individual photos that make up a synth?
No. At this time, you can't save the individual synth photos to your computer from the Photosynth site. Be sure to save copies of your photos before you upload them to the technical preview.