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Photo Tourism: Exploring Photo Collections in 3D

Noah Snavely and Steve Seitz,
CSE Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), University of Washington
Richard Szeliski,
Interactive Visual Media Group, Microsoft Research

Photo Tourism, Exploring photo collections in 3D

Photo Tourism is a system for browsing large collections of photographs in 3D. Our approach takes as input large collections of images from either personal photo collections or Internet photo sharing sites, and automatically computes each photo's viewpoint and a sparse 3D model of the scene. Our photo explorer interface enables the viewer to interactively move about the 3D space by seamlessly transitioning between photographs, based on user control.

Microsoft Live Labs has turned these research ideas into a streaming multi-resolution Web-based service called Photosynth.

You can also read about newer research we have been doing in this area at the University of Washington Photo Tourism project page.

Paper and video

Noah Snavely, Steven M. Seitz, and Richard Szeliski, Photo Tourism: Exploring photo collections in 3D," ACM Transactions on Graphics, 25(3), August 2006. (Video (WMV), Video (MOV))


We have developed a system for interactively browsing and exploring large unstructured collections of photographs of a scene using a novel 3D interface. Our system consists of an image-based modeling front end, which automatically computes the viewpoint of each photograph as well as a sparse 3D model of the scene and image to model correspondences. Our photo navigation tool uses image-based rendering techniques to smoothly transition between photographs, while also enabling full 3D navigation and exploration of the set of images and world geometry, along with auxiliary information such as overhead maps. Our system also makes it easy to construct photo tours of scenic or historic locations, as well as to annotate image details, which are automatically transferred to other relevant images in the collection. We demonstrate our system on several large personal photo collections as well as images gathered from photo sharing Web sites on the Internet.

More details (screen snapshots):

Photos are automatically placed inside a sketchy 3D model of the scene;
an optional overhead map also shows each photo's location.

An info pane on the left shows information about the current image and
navigation buttons for moving around the collection;
the filmstrip view on the bottom shows related images;
mousing over these images brings them up as a registered overlay.

Photographs can also be taken in outdoor natural environments.
The photos care correctly placed in 3-D, and more free-form geometric
models can be used for inter-image transitions.

Annotations entered in one image (upper left) are automatically transferred to all other related images

Back to the Interactive Visual Media Group home page.

Last updated by Richard Szeliski August 20, 2008.

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