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Behind the Scenes: Shooting a Panorama from the Top of the Freedom Tower


Last year, TIME teamed up with Portland-based software company GigaPan to create something special: a 360-degree panorama from the top of the Freedom Tower (aka. The One World Trade Center). The image was supposed to represent “the rebirth and healing of Lower Manhattan,” and above we have an inside look at how it came together.

As you might imagine, it takes a great deal of preparation and work to pull something of this scale off. TIME had to negotiate with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to gain access to the spire, design a rig that would work well in the conditions found at that height, and then actually go about building and testing the rig before they had their one chance to get the panorama right.

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Along the way there were all sorts of challenges to overcome, and in the video above, TIME’s Senior Editor of Photo & Interactive Jonathan D. Woods explains how the project came together despite all of those challenges. In all, the final image (which you can see here) consists of 567 pictures taken with a 5D Mark II and a 100mm lens over the course of five hours on September 28th, 2013.

But here’s the really cool part. TIME realizes that this behind the scenes video probably won’t answer all your questions, and so they’re going to answer them themselves. Today (Friday, March 7th), starting at 3pm EST, TIME’s Jonathan Woods and Gigapan’s Mike Franz will answer any questions you have about the panorama project through the LightBox Twitter account @timepictures.

To participate, just log on to your Twitter at that time and ask away using the hashtag #AskLightbox. It should make for a very interesting conversation on the technical aspects of creating such a massive panorama.

The Making of the One World Trade Center Panorama [TIME]