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WC! Site Discussions
Mar 10 2014
What is the smARTviewer?
What is the smARTviewer?
The Problem with Viewing Art Online
One of the things that has always bothered us has been the lack of "presentation" when it comes to actually showing works online. For the most part, its "click here to view this image" ... blah. It looks, well, sterile, and silly. To make matters worse, for the online viewer to be able to really get "up close and personal" with the art, the artist needs to post some massive image file, which not only takes forever to download by the viewer, but also opens the artist up to commercial exploitation (those high-res images look nice when printed on t-shirts and notecards).
When we browse art in a brick and mortar gallery, we are able to get up close and personal with the brushstrokes. We can really see the detail of a sculpture, and the colors in a painting. We can hear the ambience of the background music, carefully selected by the artist to match his or her exhibit. If we're lucky, we get free wine and cheese to boot.
Our quest was simple: How can we emulate this, or as much of it as possible, in an online format?
Well, short of the wine and cheese, I think we've done it.
Introducing the smARTviewer
The big addition to art-agent is a Flash-based pannable, zoomable browser, that will allow the viewer to get up close and personal with the artwork, while at the same time protecting the intellectual property of the artist. Oh, and it can be accompanied by the artist's choice of "mood" music. We call this our "smARTviewer". :)
For those of you who are tech-geeks, essentially, what we have done is implement an IIP server (Internet Imaging Protocol). The IIP server basically serves image tiles in real time, allowing the viewer to navigate very large images in real time.
Let's take a quick tour, and we'll show you what this means to you, the artist.
First, here is a screen shot of what the viewer looks like (currently). Basically, when someone clicks on a thumbnail at art-agent, instead of the image popping up in a new window (like it does now), a smaller window pops up, which looks like this:
The first thing you'll notice, of course, is the art itself, and then a smaller "navigation" area at the top left, which basically shows a smaller version of the original work. As you are zooming around inside the main area, you can use the smaller area to see where you are in relation to the larger work, and can even scroll around in there to navigate.
You can zoom in using the plus/minus buttons, or even cooler, you can use your mouse to draw a zoom box in the image.
Let go, and you zoom down, in real time
You can repeat this process, until you get down to the level of detail you are interested in:
Look at those brushstrokes!
The demo image above comes from WC! member Barabara Noonan's gallery. I chose it because it represented a fairly large image (a 1MB JPG file). Think about how long it takes to download a 1MB file. A while! Our interactive viewer renders the image in glorious detail in a fraction of the time it would take for you to download the full image.
Another screenshot, showing a zoom in on a piece by Sandy Katz:
We ran some tests involving images that are 5,000 x 5,000 pixels in size, and well over 100MB in size, and they render just as quickly in the smARTviewer.
What makes our viewer even better is that it doesn't expose your image to the "right click and save" image thieves. In addition, as the image is viewed through our Flash-based viewer, there is no image in your browser's cache - so a would-be thief can't save them in his browser cache and access it that way either.
So in essence, you can now afford to upload those ultra-high resolution scans of your work - the higher the resolution, the better!
Support for 3D images
The viewer also supports three dimensional images. We are working on a demo and a tutorial for this still, but essentially, if you are dealing with a 3D object, such as a sculpture, you can take images showing different angles of the piece, and actually use the viewer to spin around the image and view it from all sides.
There is also a small magnifying glass that you can use to manually inspect certain areas of the piece:
The artist now has the option to accompany his or her pieces with a sampling of music. These aren't those silly sounding MIDI files, these are digital sound loops. They sound great! Here is a shot of what this looks like:
Who can use it?
This new technology is available to all WC! members.
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