Panoramas with Processing (and, gosh, isn’t the Internet hard work?)

Posted on 31 March 2012

After the usual all-night frivolities to celebrate NYE 2009/2010 with friends in Portsmouth, I decided I’d grab my camera, walk down to the sea-front and make a 360 panorama of the sunrise. I was big into stitching lots of photos together at the time.It was cold, and the light was slight (duh!, its sunrise!), and the pictures came out a little blurry. Those are my excuses, I’m sticking to them.

Naturally, I wanted to share my blurry 8000×400 pixel jpg with my friends (who are nice friends, and wouldn’t mention the blurriness). It turns out, that neither Facebook nor Flickr do very well with 8000×400 images – its just too wide for them to display effectively. Fast forward 2 years to a Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting on the sofa having a look at Processing because I saw something I liked made from it. Fast forward another 3 months, and it occurred to me that Processing might be an “easy” way to implement a glorified scroll bar for looking at 8000×400. Where “easy” means harder than actually using a scrollbar.

After a bit of tinkering, I had what I wanted working in Processing. I even cut the image up into little pieces so I wasn’t keeping anyone waiting for the whole image to download. The Processing sketch worked fine, until I tried to post it on the internet. It was at this point I learnt all sorts of things about how Java applets on the web are not just out of fashion, but nigh-on impossible to use now (especially in WordPress). Processing has a Java script port, but it only works in certain versions of some browsers (and is not very easy to use in WordPress). The file I/O model is different too, and renders cutting the image up into pieces pointless. It’s exactly that sort of business that makes me glad I earn my crust writing native code for fixed platforms.

Without further ado, unless you’re using IE, sunrise over Portsmouth 1/1/2010:


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