In the field of photographic imaging, a photographic mosaic, also known under the term Photomosaic, a "portmanteau of photo and "mosaic, is a picture (usually a "photograph) that has been divided into (usually equal sized) tiled sections, each of which is replaced with another photograph that matches the target photo. When viewed at low magnifications, the individual "pixels appear as the primary image, while close examination reveals that the image is in fact made up of many hundreds or thousands of smaller images. Most of the time they are a computer-created type of "montage.
There are two kinds of mosaic, depending on how the matching is done. In the simpler kind, each part of the target image is averaged down to a single color. Each of the library images is also reduced to a single color. Each part of the target image is then replaced with one from the library where these colors are as similar as possible. In effect, the target image is reduced in resolution (by "downsampling), and then each of the resulting pixels is replaced with an image whose average color matches that pixel.
In the more advanced kind of photographic mosaic, the target image is not downsampled, and the matching is done by comparing each pixel in the rectangle to the corresponding pixel from each library image. The rectangle in the target is then replaced with the library image that minimizes the total difference. This requires much more computation than the simple kind, but the results can be much better since the pixel-by-pixel matching can preserve the resolution of the target image.
Originally, the term photomosaic referred to compound photographs created by stitching together a series of adjacent pictures of a scene. Space scientists have been assembling mosaics of this kind since at least as early as the Soviet Union space satellite missions to the moon in the late 1950s. The name photomosaic and an implementation concept were trademarked by Robert Silvers' Runaway Technology, Inc.
There is debate over whether Photomosaics are an art or mere technique. The making of a photomosaic is sometimes paralled and compared to forms of "artistic appropriation, like "literary assemblage.
Artists such as "David Hockney, Christopher Kates and Pep Ventosa have pioneered their own photographic mosaic techniques where multiple photographs are taken of a scene and then pieced together again to create a cohesive image.
Silvers also applied for a U.S. "patent on the production of Photomosaics on January 2, 1997, which was granted as US 6137498 in October 2000 and has been assigned to Runaway Technology, Inc. Patent applications in other countries were also filed, and patents granted include EP 0852363 , JP 10269353 , CA 2226059 , and AU 723815B . He is quoted as saying: "By being granted this patent in the United States and other countries, we can protect our proprietary innovations and continue to make unique artwork."  In September 2008, the "Public Patent Foundation filed a formal request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to review certain claims in the US 6137498 on photomosaics. The request was granted and a reexamination proceeding ensued. On August 31, 2010, the USPTO issued a Reexamination Certificate confirming the patentability of all claims in the patent which were amended to refer to shape matching (a feature that contributes to the high resolution of photomosaics).
There are a number of other commercial companies that create mosaics with photos. Since there has been no litigation of these patents, these companies must therefore either use processes that do not infringe on the particular claimed process, have licenses under the patents, or are infringing those patents but Runaway Technology has chosen not to bring infringement proceedings.
Silvers' patent may be regarded as a "software patent, a subject over which there is a great deal of "debate. For example, Article 52(2)(c) "EPC states that "programs for computers as such" are not regarded as "patentable inventions. Nevertheless, current practice relating to "computer-implemented inventions under the EPC means that a process that provides a technical effect may be patented even if it is implemented by a computer.
The UK patent deriving from EP 0852363 became the subject of revocation proceedings in July 2006. In September 2009, the "UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) decided that the patent should not be revoked and terminated the proceeding. This decision was made by the UKIPO and not the "European Patent Office (EPO) which originally granted the patent since no opposition to the European patent was filed within the nine-month post-grant period.
Photographic mosaics are typically formed from a collection of still images. A more recent phenomenon, however, has been video mosaics which assemble video clips rather than still images to create a larger image. The closing credits of the 2005 "PlayStation 2 game "God of War, for example, incorporates a still image of the main character, "Kratos, formed from a number of in-game videos.
The term "video mosaic" also describes a large still image made from adjacent frames of video, such as those from video shots of geographic features like roads or cities. A mosaic of the video's relevant frames replaces the full video, saving time and bandwidth, since the stills are much smaller.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Photomosaics.|