Stratosphere Gigapixel

Blueplanet VR’s Eric Hanson and HyperAcuity’s Greg Downing returned to gigapixel shooting once again in May 2019, capturing a massive spherical panorama of Las Vegas for the Stratosphere casino. With the assistance of our longtime Portland-based colleague Gavin Farrell of PanoGS, three teams shot from exposed service platforms at the top of each 700′ tower leg with Clauss and Roundshot robotic heads, Sony A7Riii’s, and Canon 300mm L primes, with the final 88-Gigapixel 3000-shot spherical image completed at 300,000 pixels wide. To provide a lower cap for the image, the team shot straight down from the upper limit of the “Big Shot” ride gantry at another 100′ up. The final image is displayed on six 4k touchscreen panels arrayed around the observation level, allowing deep zooms on a variety of local historic and scenic attractions.

Thanks to Kevin Potts at Coherent Design.

30k interactive panorama, Stratosphere version is 10x higher resolution (dbl click for fullscreen):







El Cap Gigapixel Climbing Routes

Yosemite Valley has always held fascination for Eric Hanson of Blueplanet VR and Greg Downing of HyperAcuity. Initially, they used Yosemite as a test-bed subject for developing our early gigapixel imaging and terrain integration VFX techniques of large landscapes. That early work led to the 2008 Yosemite Extreme Imaging Project, where they orchestrated 70 photographers to document the sixteen miles of valley walls for NPS Geologist Greg Stock, shooting 10,000 images in 45 minutes.  The unprecedented resolution and freely accessible online publishing of that work provided useful reference for the climbing community, academic research, and Yosemite search and rescue (YOSAR). 

In 2015, after integration of the gigapixel imaging with a large-scale laser scanning effort from Battista Matasci of the University of Lausanne, xRez Studio had the opportunity to contribute to the NY Times on a webGL interactive visualization of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s free climbing ascent of the “Dawn Wall”. The Dawn Wall on Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan is considered the most difficult rock climb in the world. The NY Times interactive feature on it can be explored in full screen. In addition to the interactive piece the New York Times has had very good coverage of the historic event, you can read more on it here and here.‘s Erik Sloan, a longtime valley xRez collaborator, author, and holder of over one hundred El Cap climbs, has long utilized our images to lay routes over in his climbing guidebooks. In 2016, we hatched a plan to shoot El Cap in record-setting 228,000 pixel resolution using an 800mm Canon L prime with a robotic Rodeon head. Early one morning, we followed Erik and Roger Putnam , shooting 2,000 images of constant moves up the Nose route, with Erik and Roger finishing in 7 hours. The following day, we then shot the entire width of El Cap with 2,000 images to comprise the base image. A massive post-production stitching job then began with uber-intern Max Good, taking over 2 years of off-hours to finalize. Boulder, Colo Sender Films then utilized sections of the image to help describe the Dawn Wall routes in their film, “The Dawn Wall”. Meanwhile, Erik worked diligently tracing routes over the extremely high resolution image.  Finally, the full image was completed, as shown interactively below, at only one third of the full resolution. 60″ wide display prints were then produced and are currently sold on

Dbl-click to view the panorama fullscreen (recommended):


Detail crop, click twice to view:


3D Interactive web piece, click to launch: 


REI article on project

Everest Base Camp Trek 2012

ebc_banner08xRez Studio partner Eric Hanson was contracted by Glacierworks to document the rich cultural and on-trail experience of the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek in the timeless and spectacular Khumbu region of Nepal during the 2012 climbing season. Joined by ace photographer and DSLR DP Eric Poppleton, the twin Erics shot for 14 days en route to EBC, shooting spherical and gigapixel panoramas, time-lapse, photogrammetry, and HD video, ranging at an elevation of 9,000′ to 18,500′ over 40 miles and 16,000′ feet of overall gain. The team then documented Everest base camp for an 8-day photo survey of the 800-strong population of international climbing team encampments. The work will be used in GlacierWorks‘ current MIT gallery exhibit “Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya“, as well as upcoming multimedia experiences.

The team’s trek, schedule, and thematic content was designed by GlacierWorks and was supported by first-rate trekking and mountaineering agency Peak Promotion of Kathmandu, with key sherpas Ang Phula Sherpa, Ngima Sherpa, Kaji Sherpa, and Ngawang Furi Sherpa carrying over 400 pounds of photo gear. Chhoti Sherpa and Wongchu Sherpa provided expert off-trail support in explorations of Kathmandu. A short film is in post-production, containing rare footage shot in private Buddhist ceremonies.

Eric Poppleton has a wonderful gallery of stills from the expedition here.

Key pieces of panoramic gear were generously provided by the always excellent Nodal Ninja, big thanks go to Bill Bailey.

Dbl-click to view panoramas fullscreen.
















Yosemite Extreme Panoramic Imaging Project


Yosemite Valley experiences numerous rockfalls each year, with over 600 rockfall events documented since 1850. Due to the pulverization of the rockfall mass, evaluating and quantifying rockfall characteristics has proved challenging without any high-resolution baseline imagery of the Valley walls, which could act as a useful datum for before/after comparisons. Continue reading “Yosemite Extreme Panoramic Imaging Project”

Ars Electronica 2009 Installation

ars_banner02Ars Electronica, the world’s pre-eminent art and technology organization and festival in Linz Austria, recently completed construction of a new and remarkable dedicated building. In 2009, xRez Studio was asked to provide imagery for the January 2009 grand opening of the new Ars Electronica Center building, with our work to be featured within the central immersive Deep Space installation. Space is projected with 8 stitched stereo Barco 2k projectors, resulting in an amazing amount of detail at 4k x 4k. The audience sits on the floor that is also a projection surface or they can view the work from a balcony. Running for a 5-year duration, our work is shown daily as one of 5 featured artists providing content for the high-resolution Deep Space projection area. In the first year of the installation, 305,000 visitors saw our images in Deep Space. We also spoke and showed work at the Ars Electronica Festival/Human Nature 2009 as a session on Deep Space- Behind The Scenes. We were honored to be featured alongside such remarkable work of fellow digital artists.

LINK to Ars Electronica Deep Space Site

LINK to Ars Electronica Vimeo Page




San Joaquin River Gorge Visitor Center Print

Just a short drive from the southern entrance route to Yosemite National Park is a remarkable but less-visited deep-carved river gorge in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In spring of 2008, xRez Studio was contracted by BLM park manager Tracy Rowlands to shoot the beautiful San Joaquin River Gorge in gigapixel resolution for the Bureau of Land Management‘s visitor center, where a 14’ long high-resolution print was subsequently installed in a new visitor center later that summer. Continue reading “San Joaquin River Gorge Visitor Center Print”