By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 5, 2006

Filed under: Pictures 24 comments

Via Steven I find Dan’s Data, where in turn I find a link to Autostitch, a program that will take a whole bunch of pictures of the same scene and stitch them together to make one big honkin’ picture.

The program claims that it does this automagically. You just take a few dozen pics and Autostitch will fit them together, and at the same time weed out pictures that don’t belong to the set. You don’t need to do anything. They also claim that you can can make spherical panoramas this way.

This sounded a bit too good to be true. Spherical imaging is tough. Imagine. You’re standing on a hill. You stay in place (most importantly, keep the camera in place) and shoot the whole scene: All around, up, down, everything. Then you take those pics and give them to Autostitch, and it will piece them all together, correcting for varying levels of brightness, allowing for differering white-balance, correcting for slight parallaxing (because a human being is holding the camera and it’s bound to move a bit), and it will do it with no hints from the user as to how the images are supposed to fit together.

I had to see this in action for myself, so this weekend I took a bunch of pictures of my home office and gave it a try. It worked. See the results below the fold.

Click and drag on the image to rotate the view.

To get this, I turned the camera around the full field of view, taking a picture every 20 to 30 degrees. Then I aimed it up thirty degrees and went round again. Then I aimed it up sixty and went around a third time. Then I did that all over again, except aiming the camera down. Then I took a few straight up and straight down pics. When I was done I had exactly 100 pictures. This was most likely overkill. Maybe I could have gotten away with 45 degree turns.

Obviously it worked really well, which I wasn’t expecting. If I had known it would turn out this nice I would have picked a better subject! The office is just a regular home office. Books, games, a desk, a few computers, lots of dull clutter. Meh.

There were some blacked-out regions in the resulting image, which I very sloppily covered up in Photoshop. If you look straight down and straight up you can see the obvious hack work where I duplicated over the “holes”. I’m not sure if the holes were the result of me not taking enough pictures of those areas, or if Autostitch couldn’t hack it.

Assuming my monitor is “front” (which is obviously how I picture this room) then looking to your right you’ll see a large dry-erase board. You can see some visual artifacts on the edges of this board and directly above it where the wall and the ceiling meet. Looking left, there is a really bad seam along the edge of the desk.

To be fair, this isn’t the sort of thing autostitch was designed to do. The program was written with outdoor vistas in mind, and I’m taking pictures of things less than two feet from the camera. I imagine that slight differences in the position of the lens become very important at these distances, and the way most tripods work you can’t aim a camera up and down wiothout moving it a bit.

Still, I can’t believe how easy this was. It used to be you needed expensive lenses and expensive software to make full panoramas, and then you needed additional software to make it so that users could view those images. Once I had the software and understood it, I did all of this in less than two hours, for free.



From The Archives:

24 thoughts on “Autostitch

  1. Very cool indeed. Nice image quality, too.

  2. Rich says:

    Gotta love Dan’s Data. I actually found your site via his blog page.

  3. Cineris says:

    Pretty darn impressive, especially considering I wasn’t expecting it to work at all. Definitely going to recommend this to some of my photographically inclined friends.

  4. Chaz says:

    The fridge is a nice touch.

  5. Mom says:

    I am astounded. What a great thing. So many reasons to do this come to mind. Better than a home DVD even though it is static. I wish you had someone take one of you at work at that desk.

  6. ngthagg says:

    Very impressive, and even a bit eerie. I feel like I’m poking around your desk. I even caught myself worrying you might come in and find me.


  7. Will says:

    You know, I saw that link to Autostitch as well, but didn’t bother to follow up on it at the time. Now I’m glad you reminded me.


  8. Mark says:

    Weird, I can’t get it to work on my Mac, Safari or Firefox. Both times, it just stops at 80% :(

  9. Justin Cray says:

    Wow, you can make the room spin, too!

    Also it works for me in Firefox (

  10. Rich says:

    “Weird, I can't get it to work on my Mac, Safari or Firefox. Both times, it just stops at 80%”

    Yeah, same problem for me with IE and Firefox.

  11. Shamus says:

    If this helps: The viewer is PTViewer, a java-based thingy. I doubt there is much you can do, but the problem most likely lies in your java interpreter.

  12. Rich says:

    Hmmm… Updated my Java to 1.0510 and now it zips through the load… and still freezes at 80%.

  13. what a world says:

    From the AutoStitch site: “There is no Linux/Mac version of Autostitch as yet, though we hope to release versions for these platforms in the future. Autostitch runs under WINE.”

    From Wikipedia: “Wine is a project which aims to allow a PC running a Unix-like operating system and the X Window System to execute programs originally written for Microsoft Windows.”

    That’s enough convolution that I have no problem believing that the JVM is FUBAR for running AutoStitch on Mac OS X. Sigh.

  14. Mark says:

    Wait… why is the JVM fubar? It’s their app that’s fubar’d. Java applets are (supposed to be, yeah yeah) platform-independent, and it’s a bit low of them to make it Windoze-only.

  15. Leonardo Herrera says:

    Hey, you need to change your carpet :-)

  16. oleyo says:

    I love the exercise equipment shoved in the corner. You were JUST using that weight bench right?! My free weights are behind/under my armchair, you know, for easy grabbing and using….yeeeaah.

  17. Ian says:

    What the crap, you have the same desk that I do. O.o

  18. Shamus says:

    I’ve had it for about six years.

    It’s a nice desk. :)

  19. FuguTabetai says:

    Neat. Worked fine on Safari for the Mac for me.

  20. william says:

    this is incredible! (AGAIN SORRY FOR THREAD NECROMANCY)
    (and sorry for accidental caps)
    is this common tech? I am a bit of a caveman techwise but that blew me off my feet. Could a computer game be made like this (I actually pressed w and tried to walk through the door)

  21. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Fine LOTR poster, Shamus.

  22. Gabe says:

    Automagically. Did you do that on purpose, or was it a typo? Either way: awesome. Whether that was intentional or not is starting to bug me.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.