The Future Is Here
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The largest photo ever taken of Tokyo is zoomable, and it is glorious

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It took photographer Jeffrey Martin two days of shooting and four months of editing to create the interactive panorama you're about to experience. At 600,000 pixels wide, it would measure 50 meters by 100 meters if printed at photographic resolution. And yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds.

Go ahead. Try it. Zoom in on anything you want, like that guy off in the distance taking a photo from his apartment balcony. What's that? You can't see him? Here, let us point him out for you:


CRAZY, RIGHT? Here, your turn:


Do you feel like some ridiculously awesome, eagle-eyed super mutant? Martin tells io9 his goal in creating massive images has always been to extend the limits of human perception – what he calls the image's "transhuman aspect." The point is to feel like a goddamn superhero:

It's the idea of creating a view that literally extends our senses far beyond what we can sense on our own. This image shows you orders of magnitude more stuff than you can see when you are actually there. Even if you are on Tokyo Tower with binoculars or a telescope, this image shows you more than you can possibly take in, in person.

The founder of, a website where photographers can upload 360-degree images of beautiful locations around the globe, Martin is no stranger to this medium. He's even created an image that's bigger than the one you see here, but this one, he says, is his favorite. It's a composite of more than 8,000 photos, shot over the course of two days from the roof of the Tokyo Tower's lower observatory. He's done 10–20 panoramas like this one over the last decade or so, and he tells io9 he's got his process down to a science:

I use a Canon SLR (in this case, a 7D) and a 400mm lens (in this case a canon L f/5.6 lens) mounted on a Clauss Rodeon gigapixel robot which is controlled by a tethered laptop to move the camera and fire the shutter while the camera is moving. This requires setting a very fast shutter speed obviously, and tuning everything so that the image is shot correctly without any motion blur and a minimal amount of noise.

the image is 600,000 pixels wide. The maximum size of an image in photoshop is 300,000 pixels in any dimension. This means that to create a single seamless image, it was a big challenge. The image never has actually existed as a single file. However, the two files do fit together seamlessly, so it can definitely be considered a single image.

Also, disk space. Various iterations of the image in progress were tens of gigabytes each. The final versions of the image are 100GB each. I had to convert that into cube faces, each of those are 80GB each. This adds up - people say that disk space is cheap - well, it's not!

I also needed more than 1.5 terabytes of free disk space to use as the "scratch disk" while doing the final assembly and retouching of the image.

The computer I was using had 192GB of RAM, and still lots of stuff was fairly unresponsive.


Anyway, it's about time you got playing. Maybe you'll even find an easter egg. Somewhere in there, says Martin, "is one dude sleeping on the ground." Find him soon, though, he says, because he might go back and blur him out. "I don't want to embarrass the poor fellow too much. A man deserves to sleep on the ground without being laughed at on the internet, after all."