Look Around You

Chris Harris's Panorama Page

I love the fact that cameras these days can do things like take immersive, three hundred and sixty degree images of wherever you happen to be. As a kid I would have found this sort of thing completely magical. Yet nowadays, it's no big deal to load a full circular panorama to Facebook from your phone.

Before the tech went mainstream, it was a niche lurking in some of the more obscure backwaters of the Internet, and the technology that it relied on - using Apple's QuickTime movie format - has not only become outdated, it's pretty much vanished from use. Fifteen years after I created this page, it's stopped working in browsers completely.

Last update: June 2018

Yes, this page no longer works. I've left it here as a reminder that time doesn't just move on, it also leaves things behind. Just because our memories are stored in digital formats these days, it doesn't mean that we'll still be able to access them, a decade or so down the line. For me, that's a sobering thought.

For a while at least, just about the coolest thing I could do with my computer was to stitch together a panoramamic view of somewhere I'd been. And I did it using software that was being given away on the CDs that came with computer magazines. It was a fiddly, trial-and-error process. These days, there's an app for that.

The resulting files could be pretty big - some of the ones I made came in at over 4Mb - so they were a bit large to put on this website. But this page used to show what I used to do.

The file above weighs in at just 211 Kb and it's the reason this page exists: I made it just to prove to myself that it is possible to embed QuickTime panoramas in web pages. It's a panorama of the 2003 South Cotswold Beer Festival and it took me far longer to figure out how to embed the image properly than I spent at the festival! I finally got it to display thanks to a very helpful page on Apple's site that has long since disappeared, but which explained the whole thing. My problems at the time were all down to ActiveX - at the time I needed to allow ActiveX commands to run if I wanted to see the panorama. Now it all seems to happen seamlessly.

The example below is a bit bigger, at 905 kb. I shot it in the mountains above Chatel, in Switzerland.

It might not work any more, but I still think this stuff was cool.