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Panoramic views: how to!

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Panoramic views: how to!

Postby Devil » Wed Dec 26, 2007 1:02 pm

There are several ways of making panoramic views by stitching together images. Ulead Cool 360 is one such software that is easy to use. However, here are a few tips about how to take the shots.
1. Exposure
Do NOT use the camera on Auto mode. It would mean that, as the illumination will vary as you rotate, so the exposure will change and this will provide uneven stitching. Assuming reasonable daylight conditions, I recommend you go first into A(perture) mode and set it to f8 or f11 (least lens distortion at these apertures). Point the camera roughly in the direction where the light is about average and note the shutter speed (if it is below ~1/100, then increase the "film" speed, if the camera is hand-held). Then switch it to M(anual) mode and ensure the shutter speed and aperture are as noted.

2. Taking the panorama
Ideally, use a tripod but make sure the bubble is plonk in the middle of the spirit levels. Set the zoom to wide angle for the best effect, unless you have a good reason to do otherwise. Assuming you are working from L>R (clockwise), frame your first shot and note some feature close to RH edge of the viewfinder. If hand-held, make sure you are holding the cam horizontally and that it is pointing forward. Take the first shot. Move round so that the feature you noted is now slightly to the right of centre in your viewfinder (stitching is more seamless if each feature of the intermediate shots appears in three frames). Repeat as above; if handheld, make sure you are stationary for each shot as you rotate. Do the same n times until you have completed the series of shots (for a 360¢X panorama, on a typical wide angle setting, you may have about 16 or so shots, more if on a medium zoom setting). Take your time to do the horizontal and vertical framing as accurately as possible.

3. Post processing
Many photo-editors, such as Ulead PhotoImpact. have means for stitching, both automatically and manually. It is better to use the automatic system (if your lens distorts from edge to centre, this will be compensated for as much as possible: this is why each feature should be visible in three shots, except for the first and last frames where the scope is less than 360¢X). After stitching, you will probably need to trim the top and bottom slightly to have a straight edge. However, it is much easier to use Ulead Cool 360, where everything is optimised automatically, no matter how many images are in the panorama. The final result is automatically trimmed in this software. You can save the result as a jpg file, but you may have to resize because your composite image may be tens of thousands of pixels wide, depending on your initial resolution.

4. Panning a panorama in a video
The easiest way is to resize your panorama jpg to the same vertical resolution as your project, keeping the aspect ratio (e.g. 480 for NTSC SD or 576 for PAL SD). However, there may be restrictions imposed by the video editor. For example, MediaStudio Pro allows for a maximum horizontal of 4096 pixels, so the vertical size may need to be reduced. Take the resized jpg into your timeline and use Zoom and Pan or a Moving Path (depending on your software), to adjust it how you want. It is better to have a second as still at the start and end of your sequence, so that the viewer's eye is not shocked by a cut into or from a moving image. Cool 360 will save into a MOV format, but I have never found this as good as using a jpg image.

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Camera Mode

Postby seld » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:50 pm

This is great info. I never thought of using the camera in manual mode.

Do you have any examples of a 360 panorama ?

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