Monday, July 20, 2009

St. Anne's Church

We did it! We pushed our 50' tripod into the sky to capture an unforgettable image of the facade of St. Anne's church in Fall River, MA. We screwed our robotic mount and camera into the top pole and sent it into the sky to see the world from a bird's eye view. It wasn't the eye of an eagle, more that of a songbird in the tree tops but no matter .... we were high enough to live up to the aerial part of our name: "Aerial Vr" and it felt fine.

We set up in Kennedy Park behind a row of trees which border the park and lifted our camera high enough to see over them and capture the entire facade of St. Anne's Church down to the steps. We had to work quickly to use the warm rosy light from the setting sun that illuminates the stone of St. Anne's facade to such good effect at this time of day. The tripod went up easily enough with the legs adjusted to plumb the center pole. We screwed the camera and its robotic mount into the center poles and began to slide them upwards, clamping as we went. Everything went quite smoothly up to this point.

We'd attached nylon rope to a collar at the top in the hope of guying the top of our contraption to the legs of the tripod. As the camera went upwards it became obvious that our pole wasn't stiff enough near the top and that our arrangement of guy ropes had to be altered. The camera began to sway back and forth in the light breeze and though breakage or toppling seemed very unlikely it was nerve racking to see our expensive equipment sway through space 40' or more above the ground. We scurried around with our ropes and were relieved to find that if we backed into the breeze until the rope formed an angle of 30-45 degrees with the pole that the arrangement began to stabilize.

We "pulled the trigger" on our pc and soon had the 8 images that we could stitch into a virtual reality photograph. You see the result of our efforts above. I feel safe in saying that the beauty of St Anne's, an amazing song in stone and one of Fall River's iconic buildings has never been celebrated from that particular vantage point. Spin the image around and look downwards and you can see the baseball game going on in the corner of Kennedy Park. The sweep of the park down to the head of Mount Hope Bay with the Braga Bridge behind is somewhat obscured by light. The vastly differing amounts of light encountered as one turns towards and then away from the setting sun taxed even our electronically enhanced ability to compensate for huge contrasts within a single image. Still, the park and the church and the lovely experience it provides the residents of Fall River on a warm summer evening is there in our virtual reality image. I think the park's designer, Frederick Law Olmstead would be pleased.

Our equipment made a few people curious. A 6 year old boy stood looking upwards, full of questions. The baseball coach from the game came over to retrieve him and ask what we were doing. Fall River born and raised, he made it clear he liked to see his city's most beautiful locations celebrated this way. He'd done his share of surfing the web as well and had already seen the "Street View" panoramas that can be found in Google Earth." I explained that our work was similar but of a much higher quality and resolution. Most of the panoramas we do can also be found using Google Earth. Simply turn on the 360 Cities layer that appears in the tree on the left of the page under the heading of "Gallery." Navigate on the map to Fall River and the panoramas we've done will appear as red circles with "360" inside of them. A click on the circle icons brings up the panorama. Be sure to try "full screen" for the full affect!

Fair Journey,

Brian Shriver

Aerial Vr - "Your location in high definition virtual reality."
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This is the blog of Aerial Vr ( We create virtual reality photographs for viewing on the web. We also send our cameras into the sky on a variety of kites and blimps to see the world from a bird's eye view. We're blogging about our experiences as this exciting new technology and the market around it develops. We're also dedicated to developing a resource for visitors to the Narragansett Bay & Southcoast areas so that they can explore in virtual reality before they come. Try the links above to see all of the content we present in this blog, especially the "Vr Map" link which presents information with a Google map as starting point. "Home" will bring up several recent posts. Or page downwards and try the "Labels" or "Blog Archives" to bring up blog posts and panoramas from our expanding portfolio that fall within a given category. Fair Winds!

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