FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for Image Composite Editor

    General discussion

  • Version

    • What is the current version of Image Composite Editor?
      Version 1.4.4 was released on May 26, 2011. You can download it from the Image Composite Editor home page.


    • Should I download the "32-bit" or "64-bit" version of Image Composite Editor?
      Just below the two download buttons on the Image Composite Editor home page, there's a link that says "Help: 32-bit or 64-bit."  Click that link for instructions on how to determine whether you're running a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of Windows.


    • Do I need to install anything else for Image Composite Editor to work?
      ICE requires the Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable as well as version 4 of the .NET Framework.  If either of these components are missing, the ICE installer will prompt you to download them from the internet.


    Bugs and Known Issues

    • What do I do if Image Composite Editor doesn't work properly?
      1. Check the list of known issues to see if your problem is discussed there.
      2. If not, please post a new message in this forum.  Use a title that summarizes your problem, and include in your message the steps you took that led to the problem.  Please also include the following useful details: operating system (Windows XP, Vista, or 7), 32-bit or 64-bit system, and the version shown in ICE's Help > About dialog.


    • What's the difference between the "New Panorama" and "New Structured Panorama" and "New Video Panorama" options in the "File" menu?
      • New Panorama: Use this choice when you want to stitch together photos that were shot by hand.  You should also use this choice if you used a tripod, but didn't carefully space the photos in a regular grid of equal angles.  ICE will automatically determine the relationships between the photos.
      • New Structured Panorama: Use this option if you shot a regular rectangular grid of photos using a robotic panoramic capture device (like the GigaPan devices) or a specially-designed panoramic tripod head.  Structured panoramas require that your images can be assigned to the rows or columns of a rectangular grid simply by listing the files in order by name or by date.  ICE can take advantage of this regular structure to process very large sets of images (hundreds or thousands of photos), since it doesn't have to look for feature matches between all pairs of images.  If your photos weren't shot in a rectangular grid pattern, you should be using "New Panorama" instead.
      • New Video Panorama: Use this option (available on Windows 7 only) to stitch a still panorama from a video.      Videos work best when the camera is rotated slowly (to avoid blur) in place, either on a tripod or held by hand.  If you want to capture moving people or objects, try to keep them centered in the frame.  Note that you can select areas in specific frames of the video that you want ICE to include in the final panorama -- this is a great way to get a "motion summary" of an action shot.


    • What do each of the "Camera Motion" options mean?
      • Rotating Motion:  Use this option when you stand in a single position and rotate your camera about a fixed point.  This is how you should shoot most panoramic scenes.  The other motions are for less common stitching tasks. 
      • Planar Motion 1:  This option computes the best overlap between the images, without peforming any skewing or perspective distortion (allowing only translation, rotation, and scaling of the images).  Planar Motion 1 is useful for stitching together multiple overlapping flat-bed scans of a large document.  It can also be useful if you want to achieve a panography effect (although ICE doesn't have all of the blend modes that you might want for panography).
      • Planar Motion 2:  This option is like Planar Motion 1, but allows skew in addition to translation, rotation, and scaling of the images.  This setting is probably the least useful, but can be used if Planar Motion 3 gives poor results.
      • Planar Motion 3:  This option computes the best overlap between images, including perspective distortion in addition to translation, rotation, scaling, and skew.  This option is particularly useful for stitching images of a large flat surface, for example a white-board or a gallery wall.  As long as the object being photographed is flat you don't need to rotate about a fixed point like most panoramic shots and can move to capture different shots of the flat scene.
      • Automatic:  This is the default setting.  In this mode, ICE will try to automatically detect the camera motion based on the images.  Note that for some photographs, especially those taken with a long telephoto lens, ICE will choose Planar Motion 2 or 3, when it should instead choose Rotating Motion.  In this case, you may need to manually indicate the camera motion.


    • What do I do if Image Composite Editor is filling up my hard disk?
      If you notice that your system disk is getting full, you can tell ICE to use another disk for temporary files.  Here are the steps to follow:
      1. Close the active stitching project.
      2. From the "Tools" menu, select "Options…"
      1. Click on item number 1 in the list of  "Temporary file locations."  By default, this list contains just one item that places scratch files on your system disk in "%TEMP%\Image Composite Editor\Cache".
      1. Click on "Change…" and choose or create a folder on another hard disk.  (Note that you cannot change an item that is in use.)
      2. You can always click "Add…" to include more hard disks, but additional disks will only be used if the first disk fills up.


    • What are the command-line options for Image Composite Editor?
      Currently the command line is interpreted quite simply:
      1. If the command line contains a file with the ".spj" extension (an Image Composite Editor project), the specified project is opened.
      2. If the command line specifies a single video file, Image Composite Editor displays the video panorama dialog (on Windows 7 only).
      3. Otherwise, the command line is interpreted as a list of source images which are immediately stitched.

    Eric Stollnitz, Interactive Visual Media Group, Microsoft Research
    Friday, May 27, 2011 5:51 PM