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What difference does a pixel make? From low-fi to high-resolution, these pixelated maps make a big impression.
Pixels are the smallest “unit of picture” and are a measure most people don’t consider unless they work in web design or are photographers, but long before high resolution digital cameras were affordable for the masses, we had to consider pixels when buying a new monitor or video game console.
Now two series of web sites are tickling the imagination of users everywhere on completely opposite ends of the pixel spectrum.
The first is a series of 8-bit city maps that take a “lo-fi” approach to familiar locations, and create an ultimate mashup between pixelated yesterdays and the interactivity and personalization of today’s maps. The creator, Brett Camper, got his inspiration from the 8-bit video games first made popular in the 1980s on systems such as NES, Nintendo Entertainment System or Atari, and uses graphic elements in the maps similar to those games. The 8-bit project uses map data from OpenStreetMap, which is wiki-like and can be modified and enhanced by anyone.
The first 8-bit city he designed was 8-bit New York City, and we can see the lower end of Manhattan as clear as 8-bit pixels. Each map is completely zoomable and searchable like any other map, even allowing you to find particular addresses. No word yet if driving directions will be available in this 8-bit world.
Camper is working on making 15 more 8-bit cities, and getting support making them, thanks to his project launched on Kickstarter that received full funding in just 24 hours! The next cities to get pixelated are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Seattle, London and Paris, with a few being chosen by his supporters, too.
On the other end of the spectrum, a site embraces gigapixels give you a granular view of a beautiful city: Paris.
Paris 26 Gigapixels takes pixels to the extreme with 354159 x 75570 pixels of Paris for your viewing pleasure in what they call “the world’s largest image.” It’s not a single photo that you are viewing, but a series of high resolution photos (2346 individual photos, 17 rows of 138 photos) that were stitched together with software and rendering to make it a seamless experience.
In addition to the stitching, the team had to work hard to obscure identifying parts of the images like license plates and then added their own touch to the photos put some Easter Eggs in there, too – can you find them?
Thinking about creating your own gigapixel city picture? You’ll need some special equipment – the team used two Canon 5D Mark II (21.1 MP) each with a 300 mm f4.0 with a tele converter, plus the photo stitching in Photoshop, and panorama rendering using the Autopano software.
Which end of the pixel spectrum do you like?
For more information:
- 8-bit New York City
- 8-bit Austin
- Camper’s Kickstarter project – More on Kickstarter, here on Small Things
- Paris at 26 Gigapixels (beware of the lovely music from Amelie that autoplays)
- Dresden, Germany is also available in 26Gigapixels
|Milan, 22. March 2010
city | Paris | Photography | pixels
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