Stitching & Shooting my first 360 degree (hemi-) sphere  

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Stitching & Shooting my first 360 degree (hemi-) sphere

by MartinKS » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:42 pm

I’ve tried to shoot & stitch my first half-sphere panorama, and I’m not sure whether I’ve shot it wrong, or if I just need to change a few settings in apg to get it working.

First things first, it’s taken with a Gigapan head, so I’m using the import wizard from that. It’s set to the correct overlap for how it was shot, it’s set to force 360 and it’s set to skip optimization – as tech support suggested to use this on another panorama to make sure that the featureless parts of the sky are still put in place.

I’ve shot each column from just below the horizon to completely vertical, a total of around 110 vertical degrees. This means that as you go up a column from the horizon each image will overlap more with the previous column than the last one did, with the top image from each just being a slight rotation of the same section of sky immediately above the tripod.

When I try everything as above though, the preview shows what seems to be a distorted cylinder that’s shown below.

Each of the horizon shots which is straight off the camera has been bent upwards, and nothing really aligns! I've tried to show this with an original shot of a horizon and a close up from the editor. Does anyone have any suggestions?







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by mediavets » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:50 pm

A question: what camera and lens are you using?

An observation: because they can only shoot a regular grid/matrix of images the Giagapan series of robotic pano heads are not really suited to shooting panos with a full 360 degree HFOV, nor for shooting panos with a large VFOV and/or high positive/negative pitch.

A suggestion: did you trying setting the horizon correctly in the Panorama Editor? Currently is is displayed symmetrically around the horizon but you say it was not shot that way.
Last edited by mediavets on Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:20 am

I'm using a Nikon D2, and a 18-70 lens at 18mm.
I'm not sure how to set the horizon, through auto horizon tool doesn't seem to make any changes.

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by mediavets » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:22 am

Can you show us screenshots like these for your pano?:




Last edited by mediavets on Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:07 pm

Here's the views you were asking for.





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by mediavets » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:20 pm

Seems you are doing bracketing too? Not sure why for this scene.

What sort of result do you get if you use the Gigapan Stitcher?
Last edited by mediavets on Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:21 pm

I am, there were a few shaded and over bright areas, particularly taking into account the portion where I'm shooting into the sun.
I'll check gigapan stitch results shortly.

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by MartinKS » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:45 pm

GigaPan Stitch works fine, and creates a good hemisphere as I've tried to show with the below rotations, and final exported projection.











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by mediavets » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:55 pm

So you have a solution - which is good.

It would be interesting to get Kolor's comments on why the result when using the Gigapan Import filter with APG was so poor.
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Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:16 am

Well I do and I don't. This was a trial run before I head on holiday, and I was hoping to make sure that I was able to shoot and process similar but more interesting image sets.
Doing so with more images and more brackets in gigapan stitch would be a massive pain in the backside.

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by mediavets » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:54 am

MartinKS wrote:Well I do and I don't. This was a trial run before I head on holiday, and I was hoping to make sure that I was able to shoot and process similar but more interesting image sets.

Are these panos destined for online display or for print?

It's unusual to choose to include quite so much sky. The 'hemispherical' format seems an uncommon choice.

I think APG's Gigapan Import would handle scenes with less than 360 HFOV and a smaller VFOV better.

Doing so with more images and more brackets in gigapan stitch would be a massive pain in the backside.

Why? What are the drawbacks to using Gigapan Stitch rather than APG? Can Gigapan Stitch not handle bracketed exposures?

If you are planning to process these large panos while on holiday what are the specs. of the computer you plan to use?
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by ThomasV » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:12 am

Hello Martin,

I am quite surprised with the results you have since the bad links are on areas with potential features and good ones on featureless areas...
To investigate more, it would be good to have some of your pictures (maybe only one bracket). You can upload them on our ftp server (http://www.kolor.com/forum/t766-ftp-server).

Regards,
Thomas

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by MartinKS » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:21 pm

mediavets wrote:Are these panos destined for online display or for print?

They're mostly going to be for online, but in a couple of instances I would consider printing them. In those though I'd probably look at some of the quirkier projections that you had, and in some ways the quality of the stitch seems to become more important in forming these.

mediavets wrote:It's unusual to choose to include quite so much sky. The 'hemispherical' format seems an uncommon choice.

I imagine it is, particularly in such a boring sky, but it was the area where I could best get a photo shot without the scene changing and get a few solid hours of messing about. When using it in anger I'll probably be in more urban lanscapes or in valleys where there would be a lot less blue in the top half of the picture.

I didn't bother with a full sphere though, because usually the bits under my tripod are the least interesting.

mediavets wrote:Why? What are the drawbacks to using Gigapan Stitch rather than APG? Can Gigapan Stitch not handle bracketed exposures?

It only imports JPGs it, it doesn't support bracketing, it loses exif info, and doesn't export in formats amenable to further editing - particularly if you want to do onward HDR work. It's great at the basics - taking whatever photos you throw at it in the proper grid format and stitching them together.

mediavets wrote:If you are planning to process these large panos while on holiday what are the specs. of the computer you plan to use?

I'll be using a lower powered laptop to render previews of one layer of an image while away, but then the final render will be done on a machine which I'm planning on upgrading to a relatively good standard with a new processor and around 32-64GB of RAM.

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by mediavets » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:31 pm

MartinKS wrote:
mediavets wrote:If you are planning to process these large panos while on holiday what are the specs. of the computer you plan to use?

I'll be using a lower powered laptop to render previews of one layer of an image while away, but then the final render will be done on a machine which I'm planning on upgrading to a relatively good standard with a new processor and around 32-64GB of RAM.

I hope you will test whether it's viable to do what you plan with the current laptop - in the 'field' - before you go off on holiday.
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:02 pm

yep, it should be fine, but I'll do it in a bit anyway.

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by mediavets » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:45 pm

It's not clear to me what advantage a Gigapan robotic panohead offers over a good manual pano head if you are using an 18mm rectilinear lens on a Nikon D2 fullframe body for the type of scenes you wish to shoot.

You would need fewer shots using a manual panohead with camera/lens in portrait orientation.
Last edited by mediavets on Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:45 pm

Nikon D2 isn't full frame, and I wouldn't usually shoot at 18mm. This was a test 360 panoramas, and of shooting all the way up to vertical... I didn't want to complicate it by using a longer lens that would make it taxing for my computer, take longer to shoot and generally more of an issue at each stage.

I've used brackets and raw files because these are the things that gigapan stitch can't handle, and it seems that in this instance app hasn't helped... which is great in a way because I've still got the chance now to find out how to make it work better, either by changing some application settings or by changing the gigapan configuration.

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by mediavets » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:18 pm

MartinKS wrote:Nikon D2 isn't full frame

My mistake.

and I wouldn't usually shoot at 18mm.

Ah, so what focal length do you plan to use?

This was a test 360 panoramas, and of shooting all the way up to vertical... I didn't want to complicate it by using a longer lens that would make it taxing for my computer, take longer to shoot and generally more of an issue at each stage.

Quite so, shooting at a longer focal length, with exposure bracketing and using RAW files as input is going to place very heavy demands on your computer.

I've used brackets and raw files because these are the things that gigapan stitch can't handle, and it seems that in this instance app hasn't helped... which is great in a way because I've still got the chance now to find out how to make it work better, either by changing some application settings or by changing the gigapan configuration.

While APP/APG can accept RAW files and bracketed exposures as input it seems that the pros still usually prefer to handle RAW conversion and bracketed exposure processing outside of APP/APG using other software that offers more features and greater control for these tasks.
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:13 pm

mediavets wrote:Ah, so what focal length do you plan to use?

Probably either 50mm or 135mm depending on the amount of detail I'd like to capture. For some scenes I use a 200mm lens, but they wouldn't be 360 stitches, and probably wouldn't have as large a VFOV either.

While APP/APG can accept RAW files and bracketed exposures as input it seems that the pros still usually prefer to handle RAW conversion and bracketed exposure processing outside of APP/APG using other software that offers more features and greater control for these tasks.

I've actually seen this, and am planning on experimenting with exporting layer by layer and running HDR in alternative post processing tools. For now exporting as HDR or EXR files and then down-sampling in Photoshop seems to be adequate. I will also bear in mind RAW conversion for images where there's a little more editing to be done on the RAW images, these seemed to be fine off the camera, and APP seems to have done a good job of getting similar previews of individual images to Photoshop.

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by ThomasV » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:33 am

Hello Martin,

We give a look at your images. We study the case with 3 brackets because of missing images, but that does not change anything.

To have a nice result, we did the gigapan import with 3 images per bracket, using hard links for stacks. We also set the skip optimization to have just have images pre-positionned.
Editing the panorama, we can see that:
- images on the bottom have control points between them
- images in the sky have absolutely no features.

Therefore, we removed all the links in the sky. Doing that, all orphan images will be kept at their initial position. We can now optimize the panorama. Then, just move the panorama to align horizon.

Regards,
Thomas

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by mediavets » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:56 am

ThomasV wrote:Hello Martin,

We give a look at your images. We study the case with 3 brackets because of missing images, but that does not change anything.

To have a nice result, we did the gigapan import with 3 images per bracket, using hard links for stacks. We also set the skip optimization to have just have images pre-positionned.
Editing the panorama, we can see that:
- images on the bottom have control points between them
- images in the sky have absolutely no features.

Therefore, we removed all the links in the sky. Doing that, all orphan images will be kept at their initial position. We can now optimize the panorama. Then, just move the panorama to align horizon.

Regards,
Thomas

I'm glad that there is a way to get a decent result with APP/APG.

Why is it that the Gigapan Stitcher can apparently achieve a good result - albeit without brackets - without the special interaction/intervention you have described when using APP/APG with the Gigapan Import wizard?
Last edited by mediavets on Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by MartinKS » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:22 pm

ThomasV wrote:Hello Martin,

We give a look at your images. We study the case with 3 brackets because of missing images, but that does not change anything.

To have a nice result, we did the gigapan import with 3 images per bracket, using hard links for stacks. We also set the skip optimization to have just have images pre-positionned.
Editing the panorama, we can see that:
- images on the bottom have control points between them
- images in the sky have absolutely no features.

Therefore, we removed all the links in the sky. Doing that, all orphan images will be kept at their initial position. We can now optimize the panorama. Then, just move the panorama to align horizon.

Regards,
Thomas

I'll give this a go, but as others have mentioned, it sounds like a lot of clicks. Could you just outline the tools you used to quickly remove the links and move the panorama?

I presume triggering a second optimization is straightforward?

The images have finished uploading by the way, so all the brackets are present if that makes a difference... also does the number of layers make a difference, and what if I can't use hard links?
Last edited by MartinKS on Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by ThomasV » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:40 pm

MartinKS wrote:I'll give this a go, but as others have mentioned, it sounds like a lot of clicks. Could you just outline the tools you used to quickly remove the links and move the panorama?
I presume triggering a second optimization is straightforward?
The images have finished uploading by the way, so all the brackets are present if that makes a difference... also does the number of layers make a difference, and what if I can't use hard links?

Hello Martin,

Once the images imported and the editor opened :
- Open control points editor
- Sort link list by number of control points
- Select all links with only 1 point (click on the 1st, shift click on the last)
- Press delete key
- Optimize the pano
- Close control points editor
- Select the 'move' tool
- Move the panorama to the desired position


Why is it that the Gigapan Stitcher can apparently achieve a good result - albeit without brackets - without the special interaction/intervention you have described when using APP/APG with the Gigapan Import wizard?

I do not know how gigapan stitcher works, but I think they use the grid shooting pattern as a constraint for stitch, where APG only use it to pre-postion images.

Regards,
Thomas

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by MartinKS » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:00 pm

Sorry Thomas,
What if I can't use hard links between bracket layers? Does control points in stacks break the above?
Martin

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by ThomasV » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:04 pm

Hello Martin,

As you have lots of images with almost no features and that some pics are almost overexposed, you will have to clean lots of control points to achieve the same result. I did not give it a try, it is only a guess.

Regards,
Thomas

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