The GigaPan project provides the ability to see the forest and the trees. The Micro GigaPan project lets you see the butterfly, and the 'ommatidia' which make up their compound eyes.
We are working to define, create, extend, and document the full tool chain required to bring the ability to create, upload, and share high resolution explorable images at the macro, micro, and nano scales to the widest audience. While we work to make the process as easy, intuitive, and efficient as possible we have setup and made the following devices, software, and documentation available.
The project and work presented here builds upon the Global Connections Project and GigaPan.org at Carnegie Mellon University. For complete information about GigaPan and its mission, visit the site at http://www.gigapan.org/
What is a Microscopic Gigapixel Image?
A gigapixel image is typically made up of a 2-dimensional mosaic of images. The images are individually taken to cover the entire subject area to be photographed and then stitched together to make a seamless image. For microscopic work, we add a third dimension to the process in order to obtain the full depth of field of an object. For a microscopic gigapixel image, you may need to take anywhere from 50 images to 50,000 images to get the detail and resolution you desire. It all depends on the size of your subject, the camera resolution, and the lens magnification you are using.
1. Capturing the Images. For the most efficient methods, use an automated motion control device and camera system, and automation software. Devices and software that we use are outlined below.
2. Post-Processing the Images. This involves focus stacking the images, stitching the images, and rendering a seamless image. Your final image is typically quite large and may be difficult to manage. But there is a solution for that in step three. The software and process is outlined in our Gigapixel Micro Capture Software Page.
3. Uploading the Image to GigaPan.org. This allows you to view and share your imagery with others without the need for a high powered computer or fancy programming.
Complete details on this process are included on the Capture Software and Process Page.
Hardware Devices and Systems to Capture the Images
The following are the devices and systems that we have developed to date to make the process easy, efficient, and available to a wide range of people and disciplines.
- The Micro GigaPan Imager - this is a stand alone device which uses a stock XYZ table, and then mounts a camera where a machine tool would normally be to capture focus stacked mosaics.
View the complete details about the imager.
- Micro GigaPan enabled Microscope - A number of existing microscopes have the ability to capture and even stitch mosaics already. In those cases our goal is to document these instruments and when appropriate, to get the images onto the Gigapan Site where they can be shared and discussed by the world! To date we have developed software which is able to control some of these instruments and capture focus stacked mosaics of images.
View the complete details about enabling microscopes.
Do you have a Microscope you want to automate? Read these instructions!
- The Micro GigaPan Adapter Kit this is a kit to allow people with existing manual microscopes to automate control of the XY and Z axis,p and capture focus stacked mosaics.
View the complete details about adapting microscopes.
- The Nano Gigapan Project. Last year we adopted an Hitachi Tabletop Scanning Electron Microscope to be partially controlled by the electronics and stepper motors from a GigaPan imager (the rest of the control came from the photographer/artist Molly Gibson, who had to manually control part of the capture!). Many beautiful images and information are on the Nano Gigapan Blog
Capture Software and Process
The process of making a micro gigapixel panorama starts with capturing the images. To make this traditionally painstaking process easy, we have developed capture software and processes to automate the process and rapidly capture the images needed at a rate of over 1000 images per hour. The complete process, guides, software downloads, and more are provided in this section.
Small Worlds Project and Example Images
If you would like to see some examples of our work please see Small World Explorations where we are showing some of our best work so far!
View the Small World Explorations Website
The following are notes on important terms used in this site...
What is GigaPan? A 'GigaPan' is an overloaded term which describes:
a. A way to capture images (traditionally a GigaPan Imager, like the Epic Pro, available now from Gigapan Systems).
b. Software to stitch those images together into one explorable image.
c. The Gigapan web site which allows you to upload, share, explore, and hold conversations about gigapixel imagery.
- Focus Stacking (wikipedia link) is the process of taking multiple images of the same scene at slightly different focal distances. The software is then able to create one image which combines the best focused parts of each image to create a hyperrealistic effect.
- Image Stitching: This is the process of taking a mosaic, or grid, of overlappig images and having softwere determine how to put the images together to make a seamless image. We use the very fast Gigapan Stitch software, and we also use Autopano Giga.