Jump to content

International VR Photography Art Project


Recommended Posts

An Oak Ridge North-based business is participating in an international art project that uses the latest technology to create a digital documentary of different parts of the world.


SiteTraffic, a company that specializes in multimedia presentations ranging from Web site creation to three-dimensional movies to stock photography, has entered a 360-degree digital photograph in the project, which was released on New Year's Day.

Mike Price, who owns SiteTraffic with his wife Laurie, became involved in the project through friends of his that live in Berkeley, Calif.

"I used to be president of the International Virtual Reality Photography Association," Price said, explaining how he met the project's creators, Don Bain and Landis Bennett, both members of IVRPA. "They had the idea to do this based on the equinoxes and solstices, and we've participated in the last two."

The project, in its first year, has taken place four times - once each season. The project is noncommercial - the idea is to create enthusiasm for virtual reality photography.

Although virtual reality photography is a fairly new art form, only a decade old, the project has been extremely successful in its first year, Price said. This time around, 193 photographers submitted images to the project from more than 38 countries, including 27 states in the United States. Antarctica is the only continent that is not represented.

"It's just grown," Price said. "I can't believe it. I can imagine the next time it comes around it will be twice as huge."

SiteTraffic originally started as a photography business operated by Laurie Price. Mike was operating a company that developed software for real estate agents that allowed them to put listings online, and SiteTraffic was meant to supplement his job, so that photos of sale property could be added to the listings.

Now the company, which is operated jointly by the couple, does everything from commercial photo shoots to Web design.

"My wife is the photographer and I'm the geek of the group," Price said.

One of SiteTraffic's projects is the designing of the new Oak Ridge North municipal Web site, which should be up and running by March. That site also features a virtual tour of Oak Ridge North, as well as panoramic images of some of its notable landmarks -- from city hall to the town's first home.

Such images are created by taking several shots of an object from several angles.

"It's done with a still digital camera and a specialized fisheye lens," Price said. "We take several images, in this case there were five, and those images are digitally 'stitched' together."

The result, in three dimensions, would look like a tube. A viewer would be able to stand inside the tube, turn around in a full circle, and see all degrees of the image, as if in real life. That's where the term "virtual reality" applies.

Most of the images are viewed with QuickTime, a computer program that is usually used to view movies.

Each World Wide Panorama shoot has included its own theme. This quarter the theme was "Sanctuary." The theme is open to artistic interpretation, and some of the submitted shots include a farmhouse kitchen, great cathedrals and roadside shrines, a chapel in a cave, libraries, artist studios, urban parks and wildlife refuges. There are also photos of a child's crib and a miniature Nativity scene. Participants range anywhere from professional photographers and digital artists to hobbyists.

"We were having a hard time trying to come up with an idea to submit, because we knew there would be a lot of churches," Price said. The idea came during a commercial shoot on the 15th floor of a luxury high rise in downtown Houston.

"One of the people who worked there commented that they like to go out on the roof in the spring and summer before anybody else was awake," Price said. "You can see the whole city."

Three months before, when SiteTraffic entered the project for the first time, the theme was "Bridges." They submitted a 360-degree photo of the Lake Robbins Bridge in The Woodlands.

All the images taken over the first year of the project -- more than 600 of them -- may be viewed on the project's Web site, www.worldwidepanorama.com. SiteTraffic has also set up a Web site featuring panoramic images of its own, called 360Houston.com. SiteTraffic's business Web site is www.sitetraffic.com. The company is busy developing a new type of technology that Price believes is gaining popularity - Web-based video.

So far, World Wide Panorama seems to have reached its goal. The Web site was named by Yahoo United Kingdom as one of its recipients of 2004's People's Choice Award for best travel find. And a recent study released by the Pew Center for research said that the ability to take virtual tours of any destination on earth has been used by more than 45 percent of adult Americans with Internet access.

As for World Wide Panorama, Price said the group hopes to continue increasing its photo submissions with each new project.

"The number they are shooting for, it's an arbitrary number, but I think it's one that will make everybody happy," he said. "And that is 360."

Brittanie Hoofard may be reached via e-mail at bhoofard@mail.hcnonline.net.

Villager Link

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • The title was changed to International VR Photography Art Project

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...