After preparing our 8 final images we are now ready with stitching process.
The software we will be using is Autopano Giga developed by Kolor, OSX and Windows are supported.
This is how it looks like after a successful stitch/assembly.
Let's go to Lightroom and export our 8 images to Autopano
Select our final images (do not include our initial nadir shots) then right click Export to Autopano Giga. It automatically launch the program loading your selected images.
Depending on your computer you can select JPEG or TIFF. JPEG will have smaller size and less computer resources needed. While TIFF have higher size footprint and will use more RAM and CPU.
To give you an idea, a final 360 panorama in TIFF 16-bit file using a 20-megapixel camera will output to 900mb file size. If storage and compute resources is not an issue you can use TIFF.
Our images is now loaded to Autopano. By looking at the EXIF data, we have it detected image properties correctly.
Remember we use a Canon 70D which has 1.6 crop-factor and Tokina 107 AT-X at 10mm, our image should be detected as 16mm. (fullframe equivalent)
We are now ready to stitch, to do this just click Detect (Play Icon) to initialize detection and keypoint matching process.
A panorama preview will appear on the 2nd pane.
It was initially detected with an RMS (root-mean-sqaure) of 3.22 which indicates a very good assembly and link with each image. The lower the RMS value means a very good stitch and anything higher than 5 means linking error with some parts of the image. To know more about RMS this is Kolor's Wiki Page about RMS and Control Points.
At preview, will look blurred and distorted at first, we can correct this by going to Edit. But before you do it is better to save the project file first before editing.
This is how our Editing Window looks like.
Since our RMS score is very good, we will do minimal correction like straighten the verticals and re-centering the image. By the way, in 360 or equirectangular panorama, the center (Y and X axis) is the first angle that 360 viewer will show.
To fix the center of the image, click the Move Image Icon represented with a cross-arrow button. Then drag to the center of your choosing.
Your cursor/pointer will switch to Hand icon on this mode.
After selecting the center of the image, we can now correct the verticals by clicking the icon below.
Using your cursor, drag a vertical line on areas you think that should be straight. Like doors, walls, or corners, 4 to 6 lines will do and then press Enter.
Vertical lines will represented as blue with yellow horizontal lines as your level.
This was how our panorama looked like before.
And after vertical and center corrections.
Based on the result we are ready to save the file and view it on a 360 viewer. But let's check first on the Control Points if all links are good (green)
Click on the Control Points Editor (Mesh Icon) to check.
The number in circle are your image sequence (1 to 8) and the value and color of the box represent your RMS quality. The bold number means your RMS score and the value below it, is the number of control points connected.
Green box and line indicates very good link or control point. If it turns orange or red, it means you have a bad link or more control points needed.
If it does go the CP (control point) Editor Window (this will open after you click the icon above). To remove or add control points on the affected image link.
For example we need to add more control points on Image 1 and 2. To do this hold left click and drag on the area you will add control points, select either image 1 or 2. Then the same on other area, this will presented on a yellow box indicating the area Autopano will generate and control points.
After adding new control points, click the Optimize the Panorama (mesh and cog wheel) icon. This will re-calculate RMS and control links across all images.
Also as mentioned on the previous page. A good amount of overlap at least 30%, is needed in assembling panorama.
This is where our stitching software generate its control points and reference for each images.
We can run a Preview Render after we finalize our control points. Use zoom in and out ( - and +) below for more detailed review of each area.
After finalizing everything we can Render/Save our file. Autopano supports a variety of filetypes but for this example we will use JPEG at 100% size and accept other default settings since this is not an HDR image or has any moving elements.
This will produce 16,076 px by 8038 px at 2:1 aspect ratio. You can edit Output Size if you need higher or lower size.
Then an indicator will pop-up showing the status of our render.
A check icon will appear besides the filename when it is done.
We are now ready to view our result on a standalone and free 360 viewer called FSPViewer. For OSX users you can use PTGui Viewer it is included on the PTGui Free/Trial version.
To view, just open FSPViewer and drag/move our image.
It will generate a 360 render where you can rotate and zoom using your mouse.
One great thing about viewing your work this way is you can check minuscule stitching misalignment which is very hard to detect in Autopano.
Like this one on the left.
If we will be looking at our stitching software it is located inside the red box, I hope you can see it.
We can correct this with Photoshop using Distort and Clone Stamp tool.
Open the image and duplicate and unlock the background layer.
Then zoom in at the affected area and select it using Polygonal Lasso Tool and then align it with Distort.
Clean the lines with Clone Stamp tool.
Finally, select a layer and then Flatten Image and save.
After all the process we made, we now have a high-resolution 360° panorama.
By this time you will now have good amount of knowledge how to shoot, prepare your images and stitch them together. As you can see 360 photography is different from other genre from the way we capture and process our images.
It might be overwhelming for a beginning photographer but like any other profession. It needs practice and mastery of your tools. And of course having a reliable optics like Tokina 107 AT-X is one of the key for success.
On the next page, I will be discussing how your 360 images with the world wide web and be a Google Street View Trusted Professional.