Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Microsoft ICE, gigapixel robots and Photosynth united

The new version 1.3.3 of Microsoft ICE has been released last month and there are a lot of interesting features. For panorama photographers most notable are the possibility to...
  • ...create a "structured" panorama: This is very helpful if you have captured a panorama with the help of a panorama robot. ICE will pre-align the images, so junctions that are hard to detect will already fit sufficently (e.g. sky images)
  • ...upload the panorama to Photosynth: The stitched panorama will be viewable without any size contraints on the Photosynth web page.
How the "structured panorama importer" works:
The new importer stays within the design philosophy of ICE. This means, most of the panorama creation steps are automatic.
The downside: if the detection fails for any reason, there is no way to set control points or adjust the position of single images. However, this isn't such a big problem as ICE's detection engine is working pretty well.

To give you a quick glance, here is the screen of the importer dialog: First, ICE will ask for the images belonging to the panorama. Then, the software will try to auto-guess the shooting order. If you are not content with the arrangment you can optimize the image arrangement yourself.

The importer seems to be optimized for Gigapans but any other robot will also work (i have used a Papywizard/Merlin combination).
After the import dialog, the rest of the panorama detection is done automagically and we will end up with a stitched image like this:
Please note that ICE flattened out all exposure inconsistencies.

This is the sample panorama published to photosynth:

For further reference and download, please visit the Microsoft Research page at
For a peek on further planned features, see
FAQs, Discussions and Known bugs and issues are available at