What kind of godlike spec does the PC in the ICE update promo video have? RRS feed

  • Question

  • The video shows yer man dropping 200 images - presumably quite high resolution, possibly even .RAW ones, given the context - into ICE and, bam, a second later it's lined them all up into a coherent panorama. "This is real time, not sped up", he says to the camera.

    I've just dropped 152 rather more modest (8mpx max, possibly several lower rez) .JPGs into it from my holiday snaps folder... and, well, after a whole load of CPU-maxing, rest-of-system crippling slog, during which time I've got bored, gone and got a glass of milk and some cookies, consumed both, checked some facebook posts, found my way to this forum, registered an account, and half written this post, it's finally managed to finish whatever it's been doing (and I haven't even looked to see if it's been successful yet). This on a reasonably swift i5 laptop with a hybrid flash/large capacity platter HDD to boot.

    I don't begrudge it that, as it more than likely requires a truly herculean bit of computing to analyse and line up all those images... but don'tcha think your video might be giving people unrealistic expectations, with whatever almost embarassingly powerful CPU and SDD-RAID setup it must have in there?

    edit: wow, the result was... not good. It's amusing, sure, but it's not good. I think I would have had better results sticking with the more modest stitcher in Photo Gallery. It's already done the full stitch, no preview step like the video showed, no ability to manually relocate misplaced snaps like what I was hoping would be the case (part of the reason for downloading ICE instead of sticking with WPG), it's just gone ahead and made a rather mutant-looking stitch using only a small subset of the pics and some very optimistic judgements on which photos are actually overlapping... it'll go in my "Fail (funny)" stitch folder, for sure, but it's a heck of an acid trip.

    Going to play with whatever options I can find but it might be a case of back to the drawing board.
    • Edited by DangerousMark Monday, October 6, 2014 11:47 PM actually checked the output now...
    Monday, October 6, 2014 11:43 PM

All replies

  • Neither ICE nor WLPG will discover multiple panoramas among many photos, if that's what you were expecting.  The intent is for *you* to select a set of photos that overlap to form a single panorama, and either ICE or WLPG will stitch them together.  They use the same stitching engine under the hood, but ICE gives you more control over the result.

    The demo in the video you refer to shows a "structured panorama," in which a single huge panorama was made by shooting hundreds of photos using a robotic tripod head (called a Gigapan Epic Pro in this case, though there are others).  If you have photos taken in a regular grid this way, then use File > New Structured Panorama and ICE will get a rough alignment very quickly from the thumbnail images of the files, followed by slower processing to achieve the end result.

    If you have 152 photos that are supposed to form a single panorama, but they are not shot on a regular grid... well, then ICE will have to work very hard to align them (checking every photo against every other photo).  It's not surprising that this would produce poor results, especially if photos don't overlap well or don't have lots of features that can be matched.

    I hope this clarifies things!

    Eric Stollnitz, Computational Photography Group, Microsoft Research

    Friday, November 7, 2014 5:21 PM
  • I know I'm replying to a three month old post, but just to clarify (I'm just your fellow ICE user) what the Channel 9 video you're referring to is showing is the Structured Panorama mode. 

    This is very different than the default panorama stitching mode of ICE.

    Structured Panorama mode assumes that you have used a robotic panoramic tripod head (such as those manufactured by GigaPan) in order to have the camera rotate the exact same number of degrees between each and every photo. 

    By telling ICE, "Hey, guys, I can tell you before we start that all of the photos are spaced perfectly evenly.", it's able to save time by only reading the edges of each input image and do the near-instantaneous alignment that the video displays.

    To use Structured Panorama mode, after ICE is opened, click 'File' > 'New Structured Panorama'.

    Separately, the panorama stitcher in Windows Live Photo Gallery was actually created by the ICE team, so whatever floats your boat, but it's the same tech underneath.

    Taking photos to stitch into a panorama is a little more involved than most newcomers anticipate.

    For a perfect panorama with no stitching artifacts, you need to rotate your entire camera around the point in the lens where the light being focused converges (also known as the no-parallax point). In other words a specific point inside your lens needs to not change latitude, longitude, or altitude between the photos for a seamless stitch. This will ensure that all foreground and background objects seen in the images overlap in an identical manner in every photo - making it possible for the computer to simply line up the images.

    Buying a tripod and a panoramic tripod head (or building one yourself) such as the type that Nodal Ninja, 360 Precision, or GigaPan manufacture can help you with the camera's lens not changing position between shots.

    Even then, moving objects (such as things blowing in the breeze [trees, flowers, waves] or moving vehicles, animals, or people) and changes in exposure can create challenges for the panorama photographer. (You'll want to use manual exposure and white balance to ensure that when all the input images are aligned, it looks as if you captured the entire image as a single photo.)

    If you'd like to make the set of photos that you were trying to stitch available as a public folder on OneDrive, I'd be happy to take a look and let you know if there's any tricks that you could try to get a good result from ICE. If I (or others) can't find a way to get the images to satisfactorily stitch, then maybe we could just give you a few more specific shooting tips to get good results from any panorama stitcher in the future.

    There is no effect without a cause.

    Friday, January 23, 2015 9:28 PM
  • I'd like to point out that I don't carry a tripod and yet I always take photos which I stitch back home using ICE: the software is this good!

    As suggested by Nathanael, you must ensure that

    (i) your camera rotates along its axis for each exposition, and only rotates (try not to move the camera any other way);

    (ii) your photos generously overlap;

    (iii) you try to reduce the distortion registered by your camera lens on the patches ICE will be most interested for its task.

    To reduce the distortion, I usually

    (i) try to introduce 1/3 of the previous image, thus making sure that the borders will be used only to compute the stitching;

    (ii) thus, if I want a horizontal panorama, I shoot in portrait orientation; if vertical, I shoot landscape.

    The image that reaches the sensor is most distorted the further it is from the lens center: if you want a panorama, you don't want to make use of the farthest borders.

    I'd like to point out that despite shooting handheld (and sometimes shoddily), the ICE is able enough to create great panoramas. Its failures are due to the poor material I occasionally feed it.



    Best wishes to all,


    Sunday, February 8, 2015 4:52 AM
  • HI Edson. Thanks for the flickr link. It's great to see people putting ICE to create such great results!

    P.S. you should tag your images with microsoftice or add them to the ICE group https://www.flickr.com/groups/922872@N23/pool/

    Sunday, February 8, 2015 5:04 PM