Thursday, March 11, 2010

SlopeViews Launches OnSnow@Whistler: 360° VIDEO MAP

Go to OnSnow@Whistler

[Full disclosure: I, Thomas Hayden, known here as UnderCam, contributed to the building of this product in coordination with Immersive Media and SlopeViews

Today SlopeViews launched OnSnow, a 360° VIDEO MAP that lets online users explore and experience a ski resort as never before. By clicking on any of the ski runs, ski lifts, or mountain facilities, the user is transported into a 360 video that allows them to look around where ever they choose.

They get to know the mountain online, where the steepest pitches are, where the best bar is at, etc. OnSnow(TM) influences the purchase decision for skiers that have a choice of several resorts to go to. They will go to the one they know.

Last month Google Maps brought StreetView to the slopes of Whistler Mountain just in before the opening of the Winter Olympics, but, for the first time ever, their map just didn't do the job. The satellite imagery doesn't mark the ski runs, lifts, or amenities. It just draws a line across a mountain and fills it with still images.

OnSnow@Whistler is alive with 360° video that can be filled with the brand message of the resort itself. The camera operator, Craig Adkins, is constantly being asked what he is doing and the experience of his breaking the "4th wall" (outdated term with this medium, I know), is kind of surreal, like eaves-dropping.

On the Village Map, the user takes a stroll past all of the hotels, condos, shops, and restaurants that Whistler has to offer.

Virtual Tourism will never be the same.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grand Canyon GigaView

On March 29th, nine friends and I will launch rafts on the Colorado River on an incredible journey. As a former whitewater raft guide and Google Map Street View imagery producer, I want to capture this journey and share it with the world.

I will be shooting GigaPan images at every stop along the river for 18 days. Taking advantage of the 360 degree panoramic range-of-motion of the GigaPan Epic 100 robotic camera mount, I intend to capture the most detail-rich and immersive images that ever been taken at the bottom of the Canyon.

With a big box of batteries and Secure Digital memory cards, I will bring back thousands upon thousands of images from all of the most amazing points of interest including hikes, beaches, geology, vistas, and waterfalls.

Using GigaPan's software to stitch these into ultra-high resolution mosaics upon my return, I will build a website, upload the images to, and to Google Earth (where GigaPan has a layer). Visitors will be able explore Grand Canyon GigaView in all of its rich detail at a number of locations online...for free.

My expenses for this project are primarily hard costs of digital storage via at least 20 Secure Digital Cards (16 GB minimum) at $1,200, $200 worth of AA batteries, and $1,100 for the boat rental for a total of $2,500. My travel and trip expenses are self-funded.

Last year, the first image that photographer David Bergen shot with his new GigaPan imager of President Barack Obama's Inauguration introduced the world to this incredible new way of seeing. Explore that image ( or take some time to explore the 20,000 or so GigaPan images that have been uploaded so far.

Backers for Grand Canyon GigaView will be rewarded with a virtual tour worthy of America's premier natural attraction. With successful funding, backers who contribute $50 or more to this effort will also be rewarded with the addition of their own image (subject to approval) into one of the GigaPan images as an "Easter Egg" to encourage further exploration. Those images will be featured as "Snapshots" on A corporate-level pledge of $500 will get your company logo on every GigaPan image that is published in this highly visible project.

Your support of Grand Canyon GigaView today will pay off tomorrow with hours of exploration as you and virtual tourists from around the world come along with us on our journey of a lifetime via the camera's lens.

See you on the river.

Thomas Hayden