Is interactivity overrated? Using video as a high res image viewer

I want to share more of the detail in the drawings that I’ve been making so I’ve been looking around for a browser-based high res image viewer. There are a few out there – Extrazoom is one, gigapan is another – but none of them are really that great or, for that matter, better than google earth in terms of its zooming functionality.  And for my purposes, even the google earth level of functionality leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a bunch of buffering that happens as you zoom and while you wait for that to happen you’re left looking at a blurry image. Even in a perfect world of fast internet connections and speedy buffering you can only jump from one level of zoom to the next and, no matter how nicely it animates between those states, you can’t float seamlessly into the image.

My conclusion? Interactivity is overrated, especially when it comes to looking at high res images online.  For this reason my current solution to the image zooming problem is to do it in video form. I’ve taken a high res version of the image at the top of this post and animated it in after effects. Its a standard Ken Burns type effect and unlike google earth, or the other high res image viewers that I’ve found, you get a smooth zoom in to a particular area of interest. Here’s what it looks like (please view fullscreen)

This isn’t perfect either. For one thing you’ll probably notice some moire (video and fine lines are not the best of friends). But interestingly you’ll see something analogous when you look at the actual drawings (turns out that fine lines can to strange things to our vision too), so I’m not too concerned about that. One thing I like about this solution is that it gets around what I would call the gigapan effect; that is the process by which you zoom distractedly from one part of an enormous image to another expecting to find something without really knowing what you’re looking for. With the video zooming technique I choose to show you one part of the image and do that by zooming smoothly on a high res still. It takes 33 seconds (in the case of the image above) and even though its HD this sort of animation on this sort of image compresses well so you’ll find that it should load relatively quickly. This is why I’m leaning towards doing this for a bunch of drawings that I want to share. If you have any alternatives for browser-based high res image viewing I’d love to hear them.