Operation StratoSphere


Panoramic photos are nice, however a full 360 degree x 180 degree, or spherical panorama would be even better. [Caleb Anderson] decided to take this concept much further, attempting to extract panoramic photos from video taken at 100,000 feet using a high-altitude balloon and six GoPro cameras.

The overview of this project can be found here, and gives some background. The first task was to start prototyping some payload containers, which for a device that you have little control over once out of your hands is quite critical. As well as some background, there’s a cool interactive panorama of the first test results on this page, so be sure to check it out.

The “real” hacking in this experiment wasn’t a matter of putting a balloon into the stratosphere or recovering it, however. Chaining these images together into pictures was a huge challenge, and involved a diverse set of skills and software knowledge that most of our readers would be proud to possess. There are several videos in the explanation, but we’ve embedded one with the cameras falling out of the sky. Be sure to at least watch until (or skip to) just after 1:05 where all the cameras impressively survive impact!


  1. Nippey says:

    A completely stitched video stream would be nice ;)

  2. thefamoushat says:

    I’ve done some ‘tiny planet’ style photography from an aircraft before, simply stitching with ICE and converting to polar with Photoshop. Results can be quite nice (http://thermiekfotowedstrijd.nl/album/displayimage.php?album=12&pid=2183#top_display_media) but it takes a lot of trial and error to get a working set of images to stitch properly. It looks like Caleb has gone a long way towards automating the process…

  3. royMacdonald says:

    my good friend [elAmpo] has already done something similar and streams the video.
    take a look at this_

    take a look also to his super nice tricopter footage. aerolabs.cl


  4. http://www.abaco-digital.es/360plus/zero2infinity.html

    done before (with the 360 Rig you saw at the NYC Makerfaire 2012)

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