MS Image Composite Editor updated to Version 2.0

Posted on February 09, 2015

My favourite free photography tool of all time, Microsoft Image Composite Editor (related to Microsoft Photosynth on mobile devices), has been updated with significant updates.

ICE was first released in 2008 and has been updated a few times since, before entering what seemed to be a hibernation period. I am truly delighted that this update has been made.

There are a number of new key features, including :

  • Automatic image completion, where gaps that would otherwise leave black spaces in your final image, or force you to crop it closer than you would like, can now be “auto completed” using some smart new algorithms. You can see this in action in the demo video and it really is cool
  • The application is now more forgiving, select the wrong option or decide you don’t like what you have selected and you don’t have to start it all over. Just press back and give it another go.
  • The video to panorama feature introduced last time around has been improved. You can now select key frames from the video and have them stitched together to give you wonderful panoramas with the person in the video appearing across your final image. Looks great for action sports.
  • A new series of lenses (projections) have been added providing for a number of different effects such as fish-eye, spherical, orthographic or stereographic amongst others.
  • 32 bit and 64 bit versions available (hopefully no more running out of RAM)

Your final images can still be exported in a number of different formats including JPEG, TIFF and Photoshop PSD/PSB as well as special multi-resolution tiled formats used by HD View and Deep Zoom. You can also still upload your panoramas for 3D viewing on the Photosynth website.

You can download the new MS Ice here : Project ICE


Comrades Marathon 2012 – 15kms to go – the faces of winners

Posted on June 03, 2012

Comrades 2012

Comrades is somewhat a major event in KZN each year. Apart from being one of the biggest races in the world, it has a tradition. I recall going every year as a child to the race, a short 2km walk from our house, to support and watch the leaders coming through. I have memories of the route lined with people cheering on these amazing athletes as they came past at high speed, already having run 70km or more. The likes of Bruce Fordyce and Alan Robb. The image above is a collage of pictures I took this morning at just that spot. More of the pictures have been posted on Google Plus here.

Click through for details of who is in the pictures with links to their race details.

Read the rest of this entry »

Minor update for Microsoft Image Composite Editor now at version 1.4.4

Posted on June 09, 2011

A few days ago Microsoft Research Labs released a small update to Microsoft Image Composite Editor (MS ICE), now available as 1.4.4. The “new features” listed on the website are a little misleading and are the features listed are unchanged from the previous 1.4.3 release.

From the release notes in the forums the follow changes are noted for 1.4.4 :

  • Installer checks for minimum version # of C++ runtime
  • Fixed issue with videos that contain a crop rectangle
  • Color manage the thumbnail image for Upload to Photosynth
  • Added “(Windows 7 only)” to video panorama menu item
  • Added % done indication in the progress bar

As can be seen nothing major has been changed, mostly cosmetic and install related matters.

Update : It seems a number of users are experiencing problems using the tool after the update, the problems range from it not loading at all to having poor results with the stitching. These have been reported in the forums and are still be worked on. Probably best to hold off on the upgrade until these have been resolved unless you are prepared to uninstall and moved back to 1.4.3 if you experience the problems.

If you haven’t used MS Ice before take a look at my previous posts on the tool.

  • Info on release 1.4.3 and some tests of the awesome video panorama feature (click here)
  • View from my lounge (click here)
  • The Gautrain station in Sandton, taken from a Blackberry Bold (click here)

You can read the new frequently asked questions (FAQ) posted here.

I know I have said it many times before, but this really is an awesome tool, and for the price (FREE) you cannot beat it. It is simple to use and produces stunning results. Give it a go, it is really impressive, especially with used in conjunction with

Have fun.

Quick thoughts and test: New version of Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) 1.4.3 (Updated 14/4/2011)

Posted on April 12, 2011

As any regular reader of my blog knows, I am quite a fan of Microsoft Image Composite Editor and regularly use it to create panoramas and photosynths, and have quite a few synths hosted on

A couple of days ago (7th April) a new version was released, 1.4.3. Get it here. There is also a nice demo video there.

Back last year there was some pre-release information around this new release, the most exciting was that it could now take video input and use it to create the panoramas and synths. I have been looking forward to this release every since so was quite excited at the news.

The new features (as taken from the website) are :

  • Stitch directly from a video (only on Windows 7)
  • Automatic lens vignette removal
  • Improved blending engine
  • Options dialog to control memory usage and scratch disk locations

I don’t know why the video option is Windows 7 only, however my laptop runs Windows 7 so I was very keen to try out this new feature. With limited time I just took my blackberry, made a quick (1 minute) low resolution (around 2 Meg) video (.3gp format). (Update : It works on Windows 7 only as it makes use of some new video API that is present only from Windows 7 onwards).

I chose the composite video option in MS ICE, selected the file and it in, asked about clipping the frame, which I declined to do. MS Ice then analysed the video and selected 66 images which it then stitched together. It created a final image 2560 pixels x 426, covering 360 degrees horizontally and 56 degrees vertically, just 1.09 megapixels. This was a little disappointing since I had tried to get at least 90 degrees vertically and large sections of the video appeared missing (you can see part of the roof and not others). The room was a little dark and the blackberry camera isn’t great in low light conditions, I guess I temper my expectations until I try this out properly with the Canon EOS 550D or the Ixus 210. They at least do HD (and full HD) video.

The end result can be seen below. Very dark and more than likely not doing justice to the new features (my fault I’m sure). I hope to upload more examples soon, but in the meantime check out the first attempt.

Update :

Tonight I took a similar video clip using the Canon Ixus 210 in HD (720p). The result looked much better onscreen and MS ICE also did a much better job with the source footage. Many more images were picked from the video (110 selected, 109 stitched) covering 360′ horizontally and a much better 130′ vertically. This produced a final image 6144 pixels by 2165, giving 13 megapixels. The end result as uploaded to Photosynth is much more pleasing then the Blackberry version and gives a much more complete view of the room.

This video option is definitely one I will play around with a whole lot more. Next time out the Canon Eos 550D to do some full HD (1020P) video. article on creation of PhotoSynths

Posted on August 28, 2010’s Adam Dachis published an interesting “how to” on the creation of photosynths. Check it out here.  Between the article and the followup comments this is a really good intro on how to put together your own Synths, as well as some links to some really good synths.

One of my favourites is a HDR panorama of Chateau de, Maulmont, done in a full 360degrees horizontal with 180deg vertical, done by M9. Check it out here : Link

Also checkout the PhotoSynth’s of sandcastles done by Alexander Riccio here.

Some pretty awesome work. Give it a go and share your results.

163 Megapixel panorama : View from my lounge

Posted on August 22, 2010

This morning I created and uploaded my Gautrain panorama (see previous post). That encouraged me to try and make a more detailed and refined panorama using a better camera. I have always enjoyed the view from my lounge / balcony so decided to try and create a panorama shot from there.

Using a basic tripod and a Canon EOS 550d DSLR camera I took a series of 31 photos which were then run through Microsoft ICE and uploaded to Photosynth. The resulting image is the 163 megapixel panorama image present below. What is really impressive is the level of detail present in the synth. Try zooming into leaves on some of the trees, cars on the freeway in the distance or to windows on the office block. This really is powerful technology which anybody can enjoy.

This second synth was taken over lunch using my Nokia E71. The quality isn’t great as it was taken handheld. The synth has many gaps and misplaced photos. I took 77 photos and ICE used 66 of them to give a 360 degree vertical coverage and 144 degrees horizontal. I uploaded it out of interest thinking it would be a bit of a disaster but after playing with it for a while made it public and added some highlights. Its amusing to play with for a short while.

You can download the Microsoft ICE tool here at the Microsoft Research website.

Gautrain station photo synth (3d image composite)

Posted on August 21, 2010

Below is a very “rough and ready” photosynth of the Gautrain station platform in Sandton. It was created from 35 photos taken handheld on my Blackberry Bold 9000 (without flash) the other day while waiting 10m for the train to arrive.

The synth was put together with Microsoft Image Composite Editor (MS ICE) and the Microsoft Photosynth plugin for it. All free software that does quite an amazing job of stitching together a bunch of randomly ordered photos that you drag into the window. I will add some more screenshots and information in another post later. In the meantime here is the synth.

Excuse the gaps (in pics) and occasional mismatch, I did move forward at one stage to avoid getting too many people in on the platform to the right, and this caused a little bit of a mismatch with the railway line.

I’m very impressed by what can be achieved with such a low end “camera” and some very nifty software from Microsoft. I am very attempted to take along the DSLR and tripod next time to see how that would come out. Comments and feedback welcome.

Click on the picture below to “activate” the synth then expand to full screen and move the view around to enjoy the full 3d effect.

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