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The Pannini Projection
The Pannini Projection
Pannini projection is a mathematical rule for constructing
perspective images with very wide fields of view. It is named
honor of Gian Paolo Pannini, an 18th Century Roman painter and
professor of perspective, who may very well have used it to draw
spectacular views such as the one above; for it can be realized with
drawing instruments almost as easily as the standard rectilinear
perspective projection. However it is not now taught in art
schools, and was apparently never described in print before its recent
rediscovery by a team of open source software developers.
Pannini projection is now embodied in several software
for creating and viewing panoramic photographs. In the future
may also be used to create ultra-wide angle television, movies and
Examples of the Use of the Pannini Projection
Fine Art Photography
Click on images for larger views / more
Francis Xavier, 145x85 degrees
River Bridges, 170x85 degrees
Rivelin Valley Bridge, 171 degrees wide
Arch Street Meeting, 130x60 degrees
Video shot with a 180 degree fisheye lens, rendered in modified Panini projection at 170 degrees
Ultra-wide Game Views
Published Implementations of the Pannini Projection
Wiki Page: The
General Panini Projection
libpano13 supports 3 projections called
-- the general Pannini projection described in the 2010
panini' -- the basic Pannini (cylindrical stereographic)
projection, eye distance fixed at 1.
- 'panini' --
like the basic Pannini but with an exaggerated vertical scale (a
These projections are available in the
panotools as well as in Hugin; but not in front-ends such as PTGui and
PTAssembler that use libpano12.
is a comprehensive open source panoramic photography suite.
Versions released in 2010 provide all variants of
Pannini projecton found in libpano13. The screen
shows Hugin's fast preview window displaying a fisheye photo in General
Panini Panorama Viewer and Perspective Tool
implements generalized spherical and cylindrical
projections with OpenGL graphic operations. The current
0.7 (2009) has a movable second projecton center, giving adjustable
horizontal compression; version 1.0 (due in late 2010) does the full
General Pannini projection with refinements. The screen shot
above shows Panini 0.71 displaying a partial cubic panorama
Helmut Dersch's PTStitcherNG
is a very fast GPU-based panorama stitcher by the original author of
PanoTools. Version 0.7b implements panini_general like libpano13, using
the same script commands.
Joost Nieuwenhuis' PTGui
is a proprietary panorama stitcher based on PanoTools. The 'vedutismo'
projection is equivalent to the variable eye-distance
projection in Panini.
Max Lyons' PTAssembler
is a proprietary panorama stitcher based on PanoTools. Its
'recti-perspective' projection is the same projection used
in Panini, and its
rectilinear' projection is similar but not identical to the
general Pannini projection
with full "hard squeeze". Lyons developed both of
projections independently using mathematical methods, at about the same
time that the
projection was rediscovered.
Klaus Reinfeld's KRPano
is a widely used web panorama viewer and publishing software.
It provides several alternatives to the standard rectilinear
view, including the stereographic and Pannini projections.
For example, right-click on the panorama [here]
Thomas Sharpless' Panini-Pro
An ambitious expansion of the original Panini, with higher
resolution and local image reshaping tools, published in 2011.
Although intended as a commercial product, only a free beta
version was ever made available.
Thomas Sharpless' Panini-Video
A commercial video transcoder that applies the general Panini
projection, late 2012.
History and Mathematics of the Pannini Projection
A New Projection for Rendering Wide Angle Perspective Images
Thomas K. Sharpless, Bruno Postle and Daniel M. German;
International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics, London, June 2010.
Numerical Analysis of Paintings
analysis presented in Table I of the paper (and more).
The 1772 Painting of Wyatt's "London Pantheon"
This is by far
the widest 18th century view we know of, covering a field of about 170
degees. It was probably drawn by the Venice-trained
James Wyatt, though the painting is ascribed to William Hodge.
Move the mouse over the image to see how well a Pannini
a modern 3D CAD model matches the painting's perspective. No
other projection of the model even comes close.
Drawing a Rectilinear Projection
To draw the horizontal aspect of
a rectilinear projection, locate the view point on a plan of the scene,
and draw a horizontal line representing the picture plane.
each point of the plan to the horizon line along a straight
line through the view point. In this example, the vertical
is developed by means of straight lines through a vanishing point
in the middle of the horizon line, a shortcut that often
Drawing a Pannini Projection
To draw the horizontal aspect of
a Pannini projection, add a circle around the view
point, representing the intermediate cylindrical image
surface. Transfer points from the plan to the circle
along straight lines through the view point (red). Then
transfer points from the circle to the horizon line along
straight lines through a second projection center (blue).
Here, the second center is on the surface of the cylinder,
giving the standard Pannini projection. Moving it closer to
the view point would give less compression, farther away, more
compression. Pannini himself used the most compressed form,
which the second set of lines are parallel (second center
Comparison with Carroll's Method
Carroll, Agrawala and Agarwala [CAA09] present a method for generating
ad-hoc projections that can improve the perceptual quality of
wide angle images by straightening sets of lines, designated by the
user, while minimizing numerical estimates of "distortion
energy" like those used by Zorin and Barr [ZB95]. For many
images, the method renders plausible perspective views,
given a dozen or so suitably chosen control lines; the
authors also present some cases in which it failed.
More information, including the control line sets
used for the example images, [here].
In the following table the first column is one of
the original images used by Carroll et. al., the second
is the result of their method (cropped), the
third is a General Pannini projecton with horizontal and
vertical compressions adjusted to match Carroll's result as nearly as
It should be pointed out that the General Pannini image is
obtained in real time, by interactive adjustment of just three
parameters, while the Carroll method requires skilled placement of the
control ines followed by extensive computations.
For the followng images, Carrol et al. considered that their
[CAA09] Carroll R., Agrawal M., Agarwala A.
Optimizing content-preserving projections for wide-angle images.
In SIGGRAPH '09, pp. 1-9.
D., Barr A.H., Correction of geometric perceptual
distortions in pictures. In SIGGRAPH '95, pp. 257-
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