Stitching up panoramic views for free Monday, February 02, 2009
It's not uncommon to want to take a panoramic shot of scene / place / event only to believe that you're not carrying the right equipment or don't possess the right software to even try. Thankfully, the software to do the job is now freely available both as an online service and as a download, with clear guidance on how to take suitable shots.
Whilst housebound today thanks to London's heavy snowfall, I wanted to grab a panoramic shot of our snowy garden to send to my family in various locations in the UK and overseas. Having taken a sequence of overlapping shots whilst keeping the camera in roughly the same spot [height and position], I tried out two free services both of which gave excellent results.
The first was Clevr which is a downloaded application that utilises the Adobe AIR framework, which automatically installs itself if not already present. Shots are imported into the applications, re-ordered if necessary and stitched together within the application, from where the generated panorama can be both uploaded or saved as a new file. Uploaded versions may be shared or embedded in other websites with zooming and paning features as standard. It was amazingly easy to use which has encouraged me to consider taking more panoramic shots in future.
I also tried MagToo, which is an online service that not only assist with creating panoramic views, but can also create photo slide shows. Both facilities are free and are impressively integrated with a huge number of social networking and blogging sites to which results may be sent. Furthermore, there is neat Google map location tagging facility provided as standard to add "meta-location data" about your shots. The process to create a panoramic image was remarkably similar to Clevr, with automatic stitching of the photos and it was just as quick to use, with great results that could be embeded or downloaded.
I confess I found it difficult to choose a particular favourite between them but ably performing the required task easily, quickly and effectively. There are other similar packages out there, including the Microsoft Photosynth offering, but both of these apps are definitely worth bookmarking for future use.