Panavue Image Assembler

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Panavue ImageAssembler is one of the most powerful software packages for assembled panoramic photographs, and my favorite to use with a PC. It works quickly and efficiently, but it takes longer to work on than, say, Stitcher or Autopano Pro. But that's the price one pays for so many unique functions! Here, one can make Interactive panoramas (like extension.mov's well-known QTVR), normal photos (without being obliged to put the horizon line in the middle of the image), and assemblages constructed from scanned-in images. This software is truly the one of the most complete for making technically irreproachable, high-definition panoramas. You will not necessarily detect any difference between its images and those made with a specialty camera. In the past, one could open images with all kinds of extensions like the 8-bit TIFF, but the more recent 3.0 version, mentioned earlier, also allows one to work with all kinds of file extensions except RAW files. In either case, the memory capacity is very large.

The following is a short outline of the important steps in using this software program:

1. Be sure to correct the lens distortions before opening the images in the software (its automatic tools have left me unconvinced).

2. Prepare a Lens Wizard project in order to tell the software what focal length, angle of view, and inclination (tilt) have been used. At this stage, the software needs to have only two images from the series.

3. Then, and only then, open all the images to be viewed. Indicate both the desired result (e.g., simple panorama, closed, interactive) and the Lens Wizard project in question.

4. Finally, start the assemblage after having selected all the images. The software begins to make its decision a few seconds later. Store the final image in a dedicated folder.

5. To create a locked panorama (visible in a display window like QTVR), open the 360° image. After it has been joined, start the locking-up process.

From the start, the software needs to be told what focal length was used to make the pictures and how many degrees the lens was tilted. To do this, open a new project (New Project, Ctrl + N) and check Lens Wizard. As long as the camera has been truly leveled during exposure, only one Lens Wizard project per lens and focal length (if it's a zoom) needs to be created. But if the camera has been tilted (i.e., elevated shot or low-angle), it is necessary to create a new Lens Wizard for each viewing condition, even for the same focal length. That's the only drawback to this software; but what a pleasure to be able to place the horizon where one wants while keeping it completely horizontal! However, there is one small condition: when making the exposure, the horizon line needs to be included in the viewfinder's field of view, or the assemblage will not work.

Once Lens Wizard is checked, the window, Gathering Information, appears. Tell it how many photos are being used so that it may calculate information about the conditions of exposure - information that will be essential for the joining software later. To do this, place numbered flags at the same places for two or three consecutive photos. I definitely prefer to check the option, 2 photos in a row, to lay down eight flags instead of four. In this way, the results will be perfect, even with the most difficult of calculation projects (e.g., when the lens has been seriously tilted).

note

As I explain in the retouching section, I prefer to correct the optical distortions (barrel and pincushion) in PhotoShop, aided by the Panorama Tools plug-in, prior to starting a Lens Wizard project. To create a high-quality assemblage, the software needs photographs that are perfectly identical in the overlapping areas for the most important architectural details. If people, leaves on a tree, or even clouds have moved, the software will disregard them in order to balance the images.

A small window opens with three tabbed index cards: Overview, Images, and Options. In the Options card, click Do lens fine tuning. Then, open the Images card and click the only active button (Add+) to select the folder and images that are to be used with the project. Warning: At this stage, I repeat, it is not recommended to make an assemblage, only to prepare for it. Just two images from the entire series that constitutes the final panorama will suffice. It is better to choose images with straight vertical lines along the entire height of each photo in order to facilitate flag placement and achieve an accurate calculation of the degree of lens tilt.

After opening a new project and choosing Lens Wizard, an Information Gathering window followed by a Project window are displayed. This last one has three tabbed index cards: Overview, Images, and Options.

Before moving on to placing the flags, click the icon of the menu, Arrange Windows. Then, place the flags one by one in the same areas of the two images being joined, using the loupe at a 200 to 300 percent magnification for more precision. A very practical way to do this consists of clicking one of the flags, followed by the Loupe+ found on the tool bar, as many times as needed: each image enlarges around the selected flag at the same time as the two photos. One changes the operation of the eight flags by placing them in groups of two. Here, it is desirable to do this in such a way that the flags 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and 7 and 8 would be placed on the lines that are horizontal after the image is joined. In a similar manner, it is preferable that flags 1, 3, 5, and 7, and then 2, 4, 6, and 8 would be placed on lines that will be vertical in the final image. As a result, the degree of camera tilt can be more precisely calculated.

When you decide to create a Photo Stitching project, the software asks you to organize the photos in columns or rows.

Using a loupe to assist you, place the small of both photographs to connect them.

in the same locations

Using a loupe to assist you, place the small of both photographs to connect them.

in the same locations

When you decide to create a Photo Stitching project, the software asks you to organize the photos in columns or rows.

From here, one starts the calculation by clicking the blue eye of the menu bar, or clicking Action>Full Run.

On the job bar below, in the right-hand corner, one can see the calculation advance. Once it has finished, a window opens up with two joined photos. Then, a second window appears with the options, New Stock Lens and Cancelled. If the assemblage looks good, click New Stock Lens.

The software recalls the various parameters of the calculated exposure (e.g., focal length, degree of tilt). Then, it asks you to select the type of film used (e.g., 35 mm, 6cm X 7cm, APS) and to title the project. In this example, I named it E10 35 mm Bourges. Finally, close the window and the project.

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