Topic: Help!

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courtney.woods (Over 1 year ago)
Hi everyone,
I'm an elementary school teacher looking to do a photosynth project with my students. Can someone tell me if I'm on the right track, or if my idea is even possible? 

I would like to have my students take pictures of our downtown waterfront and turn it into a photosynth (or is panorama better?). Then, I'd like to have the students create bilingual descriptions for each building when you zoom in. Is there a way to add voice or link to a voice recording of the description?

Finally, we're hoping that our local tourism board will want to use this to promote our area. We will promote the photosynth on our own as well through social media. Is it possible to have the public and tourists add their own pictures to the photosynth throughout the summer?

Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to make this project work (or better)?
Thank you all for your help in advance!

Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
Hi there, Courtney, 

If you are wanting all of your kids to contribute to a single project, then you'll want to create a photosynth, but in order to have the necessary overlap for the photos to link to each other will either require the kids to have a brief introduction of how to shoot a photosynth or for you to do a little personal learning and shoot the 'trellis' that their photos can then latch onto. 

I wrote up a few pages on getting started with shooting photosynths here, which will hopefully not be overload for you, as you are a teacher:

Now, panoramas may be a bit easier for the kids to wrap their heads around, but there won't be any way to combine their individual panoramas into a whole (if I'm correctly understanding what you have in mind). This may change later in the year, but for the moment each panorama is an isolated island.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
As far as your ideas around having descriptions based on where you are zoomed into, this is a great idea, but sadly not quite supported by the website. 

Now, if you or someone else on staff knows how to program in Javascript, you could use Photosynth's Javascript API ( ) to create your own webpage that displays a description based on what you are looking at inside Photosynth's viewer (see for an example). 

The same goes for providing audio based on your location in the synth/panorama, but contextual descriptions, comments, audio is not functionality provided here on


Sadly, does not yet support adding photos piecemeal to an existing synth. 
By keeping track of Bing's upcoming Read/Write World project, you can get a better sense of when we might see this.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
All of that said, I'm only your peer.

Your idea and questions are great ones. If you'd like to talk them over with the Photosynth team, I'd encourage you to reach out to them directly at

Please ask more questions if you want and I'll help as much as I'm able.
Your fellow photosynther, 
courtney.woods (Over 1 year ago)
Thank you for your response, Nathanael! I feel more comfortable about what our project might look like.

I'm doing the project through Microsoft's Innovative Teacher Contest and just found out that I was approved to go ahead and begin. I'll be handing the reins over the students now and allowing them to explore the technology and take charge of the project's direction. 

I'm sure they will be posting their questions and issues soon. Would you mind if I gave them your username?
courtney.woods (Over 1 year ago)
This is kind of what I was thinking of (but with 360 views)

Is this a panorama or a Photosynth ( Newbie here!) Would a Photosynth be terribly difficult for 8-10 year olds to do or could they manage it? Can a panorama be added to Bing Maps? Part of the project will be to explore other synths and connect with different communities around the world. 

On the side of that synth, I see how you can click the picture to zoom into individual areas and provide a short description. I'd like the students to work together to take a bunch of different pictures and develop them into one cohesive synth or panorama. Then, after that they will work as a team to write the descriptions.
courtney.woods (Over 1 year ago)
Maybe we could link the photosynth to a website that provides more in depth descriptions, pictures and audio recordings?

Am I on the right track at all. The kids will figure out quickly if I'm not! But they're much better tech problems solvers than I :-)

Thanks again for your help - those links were especially helpful!
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
I'll be happy to help as I have time. 

As to the example that you linked to, that's a panorama. 

The basic difference is that a panorama is multiple photos taken from a single position (latitude, longitude, altitude) which have been merged into a single chunk of photography (at maximum a hollow sphere or bubble of photography.

A photosynth, on the other hand, is multiple photos taken from different positions, moving the camera all the way around a subject. It is by tracking individual portions of the subject and watching how they move in relationship to each other that a photosynth is able to estimate the arrangement of those image features in 3D space. 

If that is a little abstract, here's a location where I shot a panorama and a photosynth: 
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
Let's see... other questions...

:: Yes, both synths and panos can be geo-tagged and geo-aligned on Bing Maps. 

:: Yes, you can include links to other pages with more information such as audio, etc. in either the synth's or panos' description field or in comments below. 

Another option would be to create a class blog on Tumblr or Blogger that allows you to paste HTML code, such as Photosynth's embed code. You use it to embed synths or panos, just like you'd embed a vimeo or YouTube video, so that way your class could add other media and have it all on the same page. 

You could use SoundCloud to store and embed audio (the nice thing about it is that it enables anyone with a SoundCloud account to comment on particular points in the audio, which I consider to be a very nice touch).
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
:: Shooting a synth takes a little practice, but the kids should do just fine, as long as they understand that they need to use the camera to show the computer how to get from looking at one object to looking at the next. 

I would encourage the whole class to watch this video for learning how to synth:

Also, the Photosynth Photography Guide (available as a PDF from this page: ) is a must read for new synthers. 


For shooting panoramas, this short playlist of videos on YouTube should help them understand the necessity of keeping the camera in one place while turning around to make a cleanly stitched panorama:
courtney.woods (Over 1 year ago)
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your advice has been invaluable in giving me the confidence to begin this project with 18 seven year olds! I'm going to be introducing it today and we will be shooting our photos on Tuesday. Fingers crossed! One of the skills that I want them to learn is how to ask for help and contact experts so if you don't mind I may direct them your way if we encounter a problem.

One last question - our school has 12 iPad 2s. I think it may be much easier to take the pictures on those rather than cameras using the Photosynth app. Will the quality be much less? 

 Again - thank you !
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
As to the Photosynth mobile app for iOS, it can only create, upload, and view panoramas (no photosynths). 

The mobile app does a lot of fancy computing while it is capturing the photos for a panorama, so it can't afford to capture full quality photos, so yes, the image resolution will be appreciably less than even if you just used the iPad's normal camera app to take photos and then used the Microsoft ICE app on Windows ( ) to stitch the panorama. 

That said, since the kids are new to all of this, the mobile app is a nice set of training wheels for panorama newbies. 

The iPads can also be used to shoot regular photos for photosynths (using the regular camera app), but a photosynth can only be computed with Photosynth's app for Windows. ( )
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
One other tip for contacting experts would be Photosynth's official Twitter account: 

If you want to be able to afford more room to the questions, Photosynth's email address on the contact page above should also prove fruitful. David Gedye will likely be answering either one.