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First International Conference on Gigapan Technology The World in High Def: GigaPans and Architecture Lito Karatsoli-Chanikian and Daniel Rapoport Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA November 2010 OsloFjord, 7/22/2010, Old fort in Oslo, Norway GigaPan Epic, Beta version. Canon Power Shot G11 camera. Slik Sprint Mini II tripod. Short description: After completing over 50 GigaPans of nature, architecture, and daily life we searched for an ideal spot to capture Oslo, Norway. We chose this GigaPan because it captured one of Oslo’s most important landmarks, the Oslo City Hall (Oslo Radhuset), the pier and public boardwalk, an integral part of Oslo life; and one of Norway’s natural wonder, the fjord. Abstract: This image is the final image of a 60 day journey through Scandinavia. Having never heard of the GigaPan prior, we began using the equipment in Iceland and attempted to record the unbelievable natural wonders that we encountered. The more we used the GigaPan through our travels we learned its practical advantages and limitations over standard photography. This led us to think about the images we were taking far more analytically and architecturally. In our two years of Architecture school we learned the importance of context in regards to architecture; a building cannot be successful unless it is considers its surroundings, both physically and culturally. We composed this image of Oslo very carefully in order to provide maximum understanding of the city in both the aforementioned ways. We discovered that GigaPans are architecturally relevant when researching and analyzing a building or a site because they provide a macro-scale understanding in conjunction with micro-scale details. We selected the Oslo image because we feel it demonstrates this concept well; someone who has never been to Oslo can explore the panorama and discover not only extremely important landmarks (such as the Oslo City Hall and the Nobel Peace Center), but also gain an understanding of the context in which these important buildings stand. Any familiar architect can vouch that the Oslo City Hall has a powerful presence on the Oslo fjord coastline. Anyone can show you a close-up of the building detail. The GigaPan however, allows the viewer to see these things simultaneously. When zoomed-out, one can see the relationship of the Oslo City Hall to the water and city skyline; when one begins to zoom in, the relationship to the public boardwalk in front of the building and to the pier emerges; these are all extremely important urban elements of the city. In this image the viewer can zoom in even further to see the massing and materiality (detail of brick work) of the building along with its relationship to its more immediate context; this is usually the kind of image available as a singular entity without the whole context. With the Gigapixel technology, one can zoom in even further to see the time on the large clock on the east tower and the 49-bell carillon on the roof. These details would be undetectable in images found in even the most advanced architectural books, yet they are available here. This is not the only of the 54 GigaPans we assembled during our journey that is architecturally relevant, but it is the image which most clearly illustrates the academic uses of the GigaPan technology within architecture.

A Panoramic Understanding: The Oslo Fjord

The Machine

Lito Karatsoli and Daniel Rapoport traveled throughout on an architecturally focused academic trip over the summer of 2010. Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics lab sent with them the beta version of their Gigapan technology.They were given no limitations, only tasked to use the technology how and when they saw fit. The equipment they had with them included the beta Gigapan Technology, a cannon camera, a light, portable tripod, a fresh set of rechargeable batteries, 3 memory cards.

The Team

Daniel Rapoport and Lito were both 3rd year architecture students at Carnegie Mellon’s Professional Bachelor’s of Architecture during the trip through Scandinavia. Lito’s expertise was in hand drawing and art history whereas Daniel’s background was in digital rendering and photography. As a team, the two were able to experiment with a variety of views, locations, and ideas using the new Gigapan technology.

The Travel

Lito and Daniel began their 2 month travel in Reykjavik, Iceland and went on to Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. It was a very fast-paced journey in which most locations they only had the opportunity to visit once.This one-stop fast-paced trip created a unique situation where Gigapan sites had to be very quickly scouted, picked, and conducted. There was no opportunity for second-takes so the students were forced to become quickly acquainted with the technology and could not afford to make the same mistake twice. This environment also created the need to constantly have the equipment on-hand, batteries fully charged and memory cards fully cleared to ensure no opportunities were missed due to the equipment. This environment gave Lito and Dan the skill of constantly being aware of their surrounding for an opportunity to capture the environment in a unique way using the Gigapan technology.

The Compilation

After the field work was complete it was necessary that the images be compiled into Gigapans quickly, in order to analyze the work and clear the memory cards. Carnegie Mellon University provided Lito and Dan with the software necessary to merge the individual pictures into one much larger image, which was then uploaded to On this website these large images can be seem and explored by zooming in and out. The image on the right shows the process of combining the individual images. By the end of the 2 month trip Lito and Dan had compiled and uploaded over 60 Gigapans to their account on under the user name drepso21, images which are still up and available to be explored.

The Experience

The Gigapan experience was invaluable to the students. It was an opportunity to explore new countries, cities, and nature with a new technology and perspective. The technology also opened up wonderful conversations with locals who would come up to the students wondering what this alien machine does. Upon their return, Lito and Dan applied and got accepted to present at the First International Conference on Gigapan Technology as experts in the field. Lito currently owns her own Gigapan equipment and is constantly looking for opportunities to use it in innovative and interesting ways. For the complete collection of work please visit:

Gigapan Book  

by Lito Karatsoli-Chanikian at