Minor update for Microsoft Image Composite Editor now at version 1.4.4

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 Photosynth.net.

Have fun.

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

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 www.photosynth.net.

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.