Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Autopano Pro and Giga

Following on from my previous posts about panoramas, and the Brenizer narrow DOF panorama technique. I am briefly going to give Autopano's panorama stitching software a plug, and explain how I use it. Autopano is one of the best panorama stitching applications around. I never have had any problems with it (that weren't fixed by an update shortly later!) when stitching panoramas, even those as large as 100 shots.

I use Autopano Giga 2, although I really only use the features in Autopano Pro. My usual workflow for a panorama is as follows :-
  • Shoot in Pentax RAW, Manual mode but Auto White Balance
  • Import into Lightroom 2.5
  • Set a custom white balance on 1 image from the panorama
  • Select all images in panorama and sync the white balance to the value I chose.
  • Export all images in the panorama to a new subfolder (eg. Pano-1) as 16 bit TIFF
  • Open the new subfolder in an explorer window
  • Open Autopano
  • Create a new group in Autopano
  • Select all the files in the subfolder in the explorer window, and drag and drop onto the new group in Autopano
  • Edit the settings on the group in Autopano. Set the project folder to the subfolder location. Turn off Auto colour correction, sometimes I will increase the number of control points if there are few features in the images.
  • Click the Detect button in Autpano, it will then stitch the images and render a small preview.
  • Click the Render button in Autopano next to the preview. It will show a dialog with the render options. I render to a 16 bit TIFF with ZIP compression, and I change the output folder to be 1 above the subfolder (the same folder as the original import from camera). Also don't forget to check the output size, if the panorama is not going to be printed extremely large, scale down the render, it will save a lot of time! And finally I change the filename to match the subfolder name, eg Pano-1.tif.
  • Once rendering is complete, I return to Lightroom, library and synchronize the import folder, select Import new files, show import dialog before importing.
  • Then I deselect the All option and only select the base import folder where I saved the panorama to.
  • My Pano-1.tif file should now be present along with the original panorama frames in the library, I can edit it as I please (crop, curves, colours etc)
  • And the final step is to export to JPG for publishing and also to DNG for archiving purposes.
Well that workflow took a more to write down than I expected. I hope it helps you out next time you are doing a panorama!

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