Topic: Alignment instructions

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j238 (Over 1 year ago)
I've got a few questions about the alignment function.  Can't find any documentation, so I'm posting this. 

I can move the map, rotate the circle and adjust the size of the arrow.

I want to know where to I place my own position and the subject in terms of the photo & the arrow tip?  What does resizing the arrow do?

Only some photos appear in the filmstrip at the bottom.  Why?  Can I make additional photos in my synth appear?

Any answers will be appreciated.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
Hi, j238.

I've just taken a look over your synths and I can understand why you're having problems understanding the alignment function. 

Normally, the objective is to line up your synth's point cloud with the satellite imagery. In your case, however, most of your synths are actually shot like panoramas, so there really isn't much of a point cloud (which makes lining things up pretty much impossible).

You do have some synths which were not shot like panoramas, such as "Wine & Cheese Meetup", "Walk Down Walnut", and "Cloisters Driveway", but even these struggle to look at one part of the scene long enough as you move through the space to get a nice point cloud.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
Many of your panorama style synths, you may want to consider re-uploading as actual panoramas, instead of photosynths. (Do this with Microsoft Research's free Image Composite Editor panorama stitcher - we all just call it ICE .) 

You can align panoramas as well, and with them the objective is just to place the center of the circle over the spot that you were standing on for the pano and rotate the circle so that the direction that the beam of light that represents your camera's field of view shines in the correct direction on the map as you pan back and forth on the panorama's thumbnail in the editor.

One thing that I should mention is that ICE, being a traditional panorama stitcher (meaning it does 2D stitching, instead of 3D stitching, like Photosynth) will not be able to handle zooming or moving the camera's lens from one position above the earth to another.

To get the most from panos, try to keep the camera's lens in one spot and turn.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
As to why only some of a synths photos appear in the filmstrip at the bottom of the alignment editor, this is because the alignment function only allows you to align your synths primary (biggest) point cloud. 

In synths that are less than 100% synthy (meaning that not all the photos connected to each other in the same group) only the photos connected to that largest photo cluster/largest point cloud will be shown in the alignment editor, because it is only them that you are really aligning.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
When each photo is highlighted, you will see a little triangle of light shine out of the position of the camera's lens and spread out as it shines toward the subject of that photo, so the circle is used to rotate the entire cluster so that the photos are pointed in the correct direction and the resizing arrow is used to make sure that the point cloud is the correct size overlaying the satellite imagery. If the resizing arrow along cannot make the point cloud large or small enough, use the [+] and [-] icons to further shrink or grow the point cloud so that it is the correct size on the map.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
In a good solid photosynth, you should be able to turn the photos completely off when viewing it (use the [P] key to toggle between Photos Only, Photos + Points, Points Only, and back again) and still see what the synth is of just by the point cloud. 

Another way to test how good your point cloud's appearance is, is by using the Silverlight viewer's 'Overhead View'. This should also help you understand how the camera frusta should work. The tip of each white pyramid is the calculated position of the camera's lens at the time that that photo was taken and the base, as it fades out into space should point toward whatever was being photographed.

Test out Overhead View on EdLee's great synth here:

Also try out the much faster Direct3D viewer in Internet Explorer, even though it doesn't have Highlights or Overhead:
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
To get good point clouds, you're going to need to change how you think about photographing things a bit. Mostly, think of looking at individual parts of the scene that you care about seeing in 3D from several|many different points of view. Each of these points of view should not be further than 25 degrees moving around the subject or making the subject more than double or half the size that it was in the closest shot if you want the linking to work. For more tips on all of that, see this discussion:
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
It just occurred to me that these two videos, although they don't specifically demo aligning a synth, do relate to it. shows Overhead View nicely on a good example synth ( ) and shows part of the benefit of aligning a synth, in that the map rotates to the correct compass bearing when entering the first image in a synth.
j238 (Over 1 year ago)
Thanks for all that.  In other words, the triangle of light (which looked like the tip of an arrow to me) should cover the area that that appears in the photograph. 

You've put a lot of technical points there and I plan to go over it, including the links, so I can be up to speed on all of this. 

It's true, a lot of my synths were taken from a single spot.  Panoramas don't have an animated display the way synths do.  I'd like to do a panorama, but don't like carrying a tripod.

You define a good synth in terms of a point cloud.  I define a good synth as one that gives the viewer the feeling that he or she is in that place.

By they way, I consider "Walk Down Walnut", which I took in Fair Harbor, New York, one of my failures.  I intended to bring the viewer to an ocean view, but the photos didn't combine the way I wanted them to, so I posted the ones that did combine.  One of the photos that didn't combine has become a popular picture on Google Earth.
j238 (Over 1 year ago)
I input the location & alignment for Walk Down Walnut and it displayed nicely with the map.  It seems all alignment really needs is the location of the camera & the direction.  Don't see what is accomplished by matching the point cloud with the satellite image. 

Or is there a function other than integration with Bing maps?
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
Hi, j238, 

You say that, "Panoramas don't have an animated display that synths do." Out of curiosity, have you ever hit the play button on a panorama with four or more highlights? What would you improve about the slideshow on these panoramas of mine, animation-wise, so that they would be as good as synths' animation for you?

Oregon Capitol: Left Courtyard:

Testing Josh's New Projector:


I don't know if I demoed it well enough, but highlights can be any size that you like, so it makes it really easy to look at just the parts you want to and automatically zoom in and out of the picture for people and since the slideshow in panoramas follows the highlights, it's easier to create a custom tour.
j238 (Over 1 year ago)
Nate, right after I posted there's no animation option in panorama, I noticed the play button.  Oops.

Speaking of panorama, I noticed you've used it to see things the way I see them.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
Ah, no worries. And, yes, I upload both synths and panoramas, though my preference is photosynths. Both synths and panos have their place and depending on who will be viewing it, I choose whatever I think will show what I wanted to show and be the easiest for my audience to use. 

My desire is just to use each tool to get the most out of it and that means uploading things that were shot like panoramas as actual panoramas and uploading things that were shot to be photosynths as photosynths. Uploading one as the other is just cheating yourself out of the best experience, in my estimation. 

The one time that I would upload photos all shot from one location as a synth, instead of a pano, is where you are watching someone who is in motion (perhaps standing on the sidelines of a sports match, where you just don't have the freedom to circle the field, rink, or court). When seeing all of the different action shots is important, a synth wins over a pano.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
What I would really like, in the future, is to be able to shoot many 360 degree panoramas close to each other and use each panorama as a single photo in a big synth.


As far as what the purpose of aligning your synth or pano to the map is, the vision has always been to view all of these photos at their correct positions, relative to the Earth. ( ) 

Photosynth is capable of seeing how photos taken within the same environment match each other, given that you follow the rules in the Photosynth Photography Guide, but once uploaded, the entire world is an awfully big place to match those photos to automatically, so we are allowed to manually tell Photosynth where on the map the synth or pano was taken. Eventually, the goal will be to connect everyone's synths and panos and move through it like it was all one single synth.

If you'd like to follow recent news on that topic, go to:
j238 (Over 1 year ago)

    I've create my first panorama as an experiment.  It didn't display a play button.  I guess some panoramas can animate and some can't.

    The idea of stitching together synths and panoramas is cool.  Of course, it's only useful in well-photographed spots such as Central Park.  

    Google already had a photo integration project.  It's the look around option in panoramio.  It only requires a location for the photo.  No reason photosynth had such a complicated process to accomplish the same thing. 

NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
Hi, again, j238,

Here are the rules for getting a play button for your panorama:

I'm well familiar with Panoramio's Look Around feature, but that is really just like running Photosynth on their computer instead of your own. Geotagging individual photos in a single location on Panoramio serves the same function as highlighting and dragging photos which were taken in the same place on your hard drive and dragging them into Photosynth serves. 

That allows those photos to connect to each other, but it still doesn't solve which compass bearing the whole cluster of photos faces, for either Panoramaio or Photosynth. 

You might think that because each photo in Panoramio has a latitude and longitude, that that would help to orient the photo cluster on the map. In reality, people often tag what they were looking at, instead of where they were standing.
NateLawrence (Over 1 year ago)
The manual alignment process in Photosynth isn't complicated at all. It's one quick 'Point, Twist, Stretch or Smoosh' to line up a whole group of photos all at once, in the case of a synth, or a single image, in the case of a pano.

Here's the basic workflow: 

1:: Zoom to the location of your synth or pano on the map
2:: Geotag the center of your synth or pano
3:: Use the alignment ring to turn your synth or pano so that the photography faces the correct direction on the map 
4:: Use the resizing slider to make sure that it fits correctly on the map

For the time being manual alignment just necessary. As more and more imagery gets added to Read/Write World, it will become less necessary because so much existing imagery will already be oriented correctly on the map and Read/Write World will just match new photography to the stuff that's already online.
mauimacman (Over 1 year ago)
Please give this web page an overhaul to make it friendly to mobile devices! Type too small. Doesn't wrap and no margins  are cutting off left and right side of page to the point the edge words can't be read :-(

Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
@MauiMacMan, I replied to your bug report yesterday in the "How Can We Make The App Better?" discussion:

In summary, the black thumbnails bug in the iOS version of the Photosynth mobile pano app was introduced by Apple's changes to iOS in iOS 6. 

The problem has been reported for at least a month and the latest app update which Microsoft completed to fix it has finally been approved and released by Apple to the App Store just this week. 

You can read the announcement from the Photosynth team here in the forum: or just open the App Store on your phone to get the update.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
@MauiMacMan, as an aside, if you have a suggestion, please put it in the "New Feature Suggestions/Requests" forum ( ) under a new discussion or an existing one that is about the same idea.

The Photosynth team works more on their apps and viewers than they do the website. The way that I read the forum is simply to hold my phone in landscape mode. The text is still small, but is readable. I prefer landscape mode for all mobile web browsing, as it gives me more space for the keyboard while typing.