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Using the Software

Using the Software

Now that you've seen some examples of what you can do with Photosynth, and hopefully have taken some test photos, it's time to talk about the software, which you can get here.

You'll need a Windows Live ID in order to create an account with the Photosynth.net website, which is where your synths will be stored and shared with others. Accounts are free, and you get 20GB of storage included, which is enough to create at least 40 synths.

Using the software is pretty straightforward—you select a set of photos to use, enter a title, choose whether the synth is public or private, and select the rights you want to claim on the photo (Creative Commons, public domain, all rights reserved, and so on).

After that, your computer will start analyzing and compositing the photos, and uploading them to Photosynth.net. How long this takes will depend on how powerful your PC is and how fast your Internet connection is, but expect it to take around 5 minutes.

When the upload is finished, it'll tell you how "synthy" the results are—anything less that 100% is probably going to be disappointing. A web browser will open to show you the final results on the website.

Once you've got a synth uploaded to the site, there are a few other things you can configure for your synth. If your photos don't contain geo-location information, and you want to use the Bing Maps integration, you can enter that on the Location tab by doing a search or just pushing a pin into the map.

You can also take things a step further by interactively setting the orientation of the synth relative to the map, adjusting the size of the synth to match satellite photos of landmarks (see Figure 2). This feature is really cool and you should play with it even if you don't have a synth worth putting on the map!

Figure 2 Put your synth in its rightful place in the world with Bing Maps integration

On the Highlights tab, you can choose one or more shots from your synth to share with viewers as "the best part(s)". This is really helpful if you synth has a ton of detail and it's not obvious what all you want the viewer to see, as shown in Figure 3. Here's a great example of highlights.

Figure 3 Adding highlights to a synth ensures that your viewers don't miss the best parts

That's it for the basics of Photosynth. I'm looking forward to my next scenic vacation, and might fill up the 4GB memory card in my camera for once in the hopes of capturing a great synth. Hopefully you will, too!

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