Panorama software: Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 4

    Updated: beta 4 is now available and fixes several bugs. Read the change log to know more.

    A brand new version of Autopano, our image stitching software is now available in public beta! This new version has been improved on many key aspects that make Autopano 4 simply the most powerful and user-friendly Autopano version ever made. We worked hard to improve the stitching engine but also the global user experience.

    All Autopano 3.x users can download and use for free this beta version until the final version is released (see the changelog for more details)! Simply download the beta by following the link below, install it and enter your Autopano 3.x key.  Of course, Autopano 4 beta 1 won’t replace the Autopano 3.x version you are currently using.

    Starting today, the 17th of December 2014, all purchases of Autopano Pro/Giga will be able to update for free to Autopano 4 when it is released. For users who purchased their version of Autopano before that date you’ll be able to update to the latest version at a discount price. Prices and conditions will be given soon, stay tuned!

    With this new version, there are also some changes to the minimal Operating System version required to use the software, consult the changelog for more information. On Mac, this version is compatible with version 10.9 minimum.

    Panorama software: Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 4

    Autopano 4 offers several new features and improvements, let’s have a quick overview of the most important ones:

    New color correction engine

    Have a look at this panorama stitched with Autopano Giga 3.7.1: nice cloud-free sky, beautifully stitched but you can see some obvious vignetting in the sky. This annoying phenomenon happens sometimes with big panoramas, especially in blue sky or star filled sky.

    Panorama software: Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 4
    Autopano 4 includes a new color correction engine that prevents this vignetting effect. Thank to this new correction engine your panorama is simply perfect straight from the box, check that out:
    Panorama software: Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 4
    Thanks to Jérôme Pouille for his really nice picture which also happens to illustrate very well the vignetting effect.

    In the previous engine, the software decided for you the default anchor image, the one that would be used as color reference for all others. It worked well, but could be  better. Now, by default, there won’t be any color reference image, all images will be optimized. The result on the panorama is that the global panorama is closer to all images, instead of close to the reference image.

    Basically, the global color optimization system has been deeply changed to give better results in automatic mode! We are now waiting for your feedback.

    Fast(er) editor

    Any gigapixels creators here? You are going to love this new feature! The fast editor simply reduces drastically the time needed to open the editor, it’s not even comparable especially for huge panoramas, Gigapixels for instance. How much faster is it? Have a look at the video below, not the most exciting video of all time, but pretty straight forward:



    To be able to accelerate everything, some compromises had to be made, which has resulted in possible temporary visual artifacts. These artifacts don’t stay on screen very long, they are there during only a few seconds until the calculations are done. Note that if you prefer the previous version of the editor you can simply disable the fast editor from the general settings in the menu.

    Antighost visual feedback (Autopano Giga only)

    Autopano is still the only stitcher that has an automatic anti-ghost algorithm that works for small project up to gigapixels. For this version 4, we decided to work on this algorithm to make it even more efficient and usable:

    • Seams visual feedback: what we did here is that you can now see visually where the anti-ghost algorithm decided to put the seams between images. The visualization of the seams really helps understand overlapping / moving objects better . It is also compatible with our masking markers ( green / red ) in the mask editor and it really helps you choose which moving objects you want to keep and the ones you want to erase. Have a look at the screenshot below to understand better this improvement.
    • Stability of the anti-ghost decision: in previous versions, it could happen that the decision taken by the antighost algorithm in the editor, was not the same as the one taken in the rendering. It is not the case anymore and you’ll even notice that the seams will refine themselves in real time according to the decisions you are taking with the masking markers. This new system requires a quick render of the whole panorama when entering the the mask editor thus it slows down a bit the opening of the preview.

    Panorama software: Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 4

    4K / High DPI / Retina display support

    Due to technical limitations, we were not able to add high DPI display support in Autopano 3.x. It is now done in version 4 and the result is that we now have a better interface, with Retina icons / high DPI screen support even for 4K screens. The switch also accelerate every part of the software which are related to displaying something on the screen.

    Miscellaneous improvements

    Autopano 4 brings many other improvements such as:

    • Area selection tool: For editing big panoramas, you can use the ctrl/cmd key while dragging. It will create a rectangular selection zone. Any image with its center inside this rectangle will be selected. This is a nice tool to move several images at the same time,  for sky patching on gigapixel for example.
    • Zenith and nadir blending: In some rare cases, you could notice a strange behavior at the zenith or nadir where a spot is visible, as if the blend didn’t work well on that zone. We found the solution and this problem will not occur again.
    • Group management: When sorting images, it appears that some of the functions that were on the right click on group were not that easy to use. We improved them. Now, if you split a group at a given selected image, both groups stays together. Previously the new group was created at the end of the group list. You have new function ‘keep selected’, just select some images in a group, use that, and it will remove all other images.
    • Memory optimization: We measured memory usage when working on big projects. There was space for improvement in that area and now it should be possible to do 10,000 images panorama on much smaller computer than before.

     

    What’s next?

    As with all beta versions, bugs might still occur, don’t hesitate to report them in order to improve the final version! Additionally, the purpose of a beta version is to get your feedback on the new features added but also on the ones that you would like to see in the following versions. A part on our forum is now open for you to send us your comments about this new version, have a look here.

    There are still some work to do on our roadmap before the final version is released, if you want to know more about the new features discussed above or the other improvements that will be added to the final version please consult the changelog below:

    The changelog Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 4

    Main changes

    We fix most recurrent issues for allowing most of users to use the beta and help us to continue the stabilization stage.

    Fixes since 4.0.0 beta 3

    – 0004302: [Cortex ( rendu )] Antighost not applied when rendering 32 bit pano

    – 0001604: [UI behavior] High resolution icons

    – 0004290: [UI behavior] Simplify Camera support email

    – 0004240: [Crash Dump] Color constraints

    – 0004275: [Main Editor] Antighost in quick preview

    – 0004231: [Crash Dump] Sift under mac

    – 0004284: [Main Editor] Modification of the fisheye crop circle from editor: the effective cropping does not match with the new circle

    – 0004276: [GPU] diamond preview on integrated HD

    The changelog Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 3

    Main changes

    We fix most recurrent issues for allowing most of users to use the beta and help us to continue the stabilization stage.

    Happy New Year

    Fixes since 4.0.0 beta 2

    – 0004230: [Crash Dump] Fast editor rendering

    – 0004249: [GPU] White rendering in preview

    – 0004272: [Internal optimization] SparseMat_t is not thread-safe

    – 0004247: [Performance] Autopano doesn’t start

    – 0004248: [Qt] Autopano is black

    – 0004246: [Crash Dump] Crash at 1st detection in FindPanorama4.cpp : 550

    – 0004273: [Main Editor] Quick preview can halt the application

    – 0003463: [Ctrl Editor] Manual CP positioning jittering on Mac

    – 0004225: [Import plugins] Gigapan import – optimization failed

    – 0004219: [UI behavior] Color tools UI

    – 0003793: [Performance] memory issue

    – 0001581: [Main Editor] Review UI on local/global geometric analysis

    – 0003509: [Shell Integration] Extended save as, qt::copy

    – 0003657: [Main Editor] Fisheye output projection FOV can be rounded when leaving and reopening the projection editor

    – 0003833: [UI behavior] Modify description for the “What’s This” of “Vertical Lines” tool.

    – 0004231: [Crash Dump] Sift under mac

    – 0004228: [Crash Dump] Preview GPU

    – 0004240: [Crash Dump] Color constraints

    The changelog Autopano Pro / Giga 4 beta 1

    Main changes

    This version is the first public beta of the next generation of Autopano engine, the version 4.
    With this version, we tried to address issues that people are still having when stitching panoramas.

    Although this is version 4, you can register this version with a v3 key, which will be accepted all throughout the beta-testing phase.
    This means that this version is time-locked, and will lock itself (removing the registration) around the time a new beta or the final release comes. When the final version is released, you will need an upgraded version 4 key to use the software.
    If you’ve lost your license key, you can retrieve it at any time from your user account.

    New color correction engine

    This is the first big change under the hood. Visually, you won’t see many changes, everything is behind.

    What is the color correction engine?

    First, It is not only about color, but also about exposure, hdr calibration, etc.
    This algorithm is the way we calculate relative exposure between images, color cast, etc. The real name is radiometric calibration. For the lenses, we calculate lens distortion parameters. Here, for the color, we calculate color parameters for images and lenses, depending on exposure, aperture, iso.

    So, what’s new in the new color engine ?

    • Vignetting correction: In big panoramas, especially with blue skies, it appeared that vignetting was an effect that prevented us from getting a perfectly stitched panorama without any banding in the sky. Now, we can measure that effect and remove it.
    • Gradient correction: This is a new concept that we discovered when stitching blue skies. It appears that some lenses have some coating that have an effect on the color in the sky. It also happens when you put some IR filter on the lens. It modifies the way the colors are transmitted through the lens and creates a strange gradient on the images. That effect is different from vignetting and it seems that we are the first in the world to have found this new type of color calibration effect. We found no literature about it yet.
    • Default anchor: In the previous engine, the software decided the default anchor image for you, the one that would be used as color reference for all others. It worked well, but we could do better. Now, by default, there won’t be any color reference image, all images will be optimized. The result on the panorama is that the global panorama is closer to all images, instead of close to the reference image.
    • Color correction on big panorama: As the optimization system has been changed, now it is possible to easily have global optimization done on big panoramas. Even if you decide to have just one reference anchor in a big panorama, it will work, as the color/exposure propagates its values now to all the panorama.
    • WIP UI: The UI has been improved to support the new engine. Everything is now happening on the right click on an image. You can decide from there what you want to correct for that image. You can also globally change the default settings of color correction in the column menu while you are in the color correction mode.
      There is room for improvement here and we are waiting for feedback on the UI for color correction.

    Fast editor

    When we looked at feature requests from users, we found out that it was more important for you to be able to work fast in the editor than to render fast.
    Rendering can be run during night, but if you need to edit a panorama, you need to be behind the screen. So we decided to concentrate on how we could accelerate the editor.
    The fast editor is the result of that speed up. Again, that’s not really a visual feature, as everything again is behind the scene.
    You will just see a new flag in general setting that says, fast editor, enabled or not. By default, it is on, of course.

    So, how does the fast editor work?

    • Zooming / panning:
      When panning, zooming in, zooming out, you should feel that everything is super fast now. We use clever gpu techniques to be able to get you instantaneous feedback in the editor.
      In Autopano 4, we opened the Paris-26-gigapixels panorama on a laptop and were able to work on it, having no problem looking at every zone of the panorama, even at 100%. It is really, really fast.
    • Small visual artifacts: To be able to accelerate everything, some compromises had to be made, which has resulted in possible temporary visual artifacts. These artifacts don’t stay on screen very long, they
      are there during only a few seconds until the calculations are done. It doesn’t prevent the use of the tool, makes it really fast, but visually, it might be distracting. Tell us what you think,
      if you are ok with these glitches or not.

    4K / High DPI / Retina display support

    We’ve always cared about the visual comfort when using our software, and the experience should be enjoyable during use.
    But with the latest computers / laptops, everything is quickly evolving to use high resolutions on screen and high DPI.
    Our software should adapt to that evolution.

    Having an interface that adapts itself to high DPI / Retina display depends on the way the software is built. We use Qt for almost all our software. Qt should then be providing us
    with the solution for High DPI / Retina Display. It happens that Qt has provided this only really recently, with Qt 5.4. Our software relied on Qt 4.8 ( quite old ).
    It wasn’t possible to make the switch before, as it does impact a lot of the codebase. We could only plan the switchover for a major update, as it also impacted the minimal OS configuration needed for the software.
    The result is that we now have a better interface, with Retina icons / high DPI screen support even for 4K screens.
    The switch also accelerates every part of the software related to displaying something on the screen.
    With this upgrade of Qt, the minimal hardware configuration has gone up. The minimum Operating System versions are: Windows 7 , MacOS 10.9 Mavericks (64 bits only) and Ubuntu 14.04 (64 bits only). With this upgrade, we are also now ready for Windows 10 and Mac Yosemite.

    Anti-ghost visual feedback ( APG only )

    In the Autopano engine, we are still the only stitcher that has an automatic anti-ghost algorithm that works for small projects, up to gigapixels. It does really save a lot of time for fixing ghost / parallax in hand held panorama, and it does so automatically.
    We decided to work on this algorithm to make it even more efficient and usable.

    What we did:

    • Seams visual feedback: you can actually see where the anti-ghost algorithm decided to put the seams between images. This visualization of the seams is a great improvement and really helps understand overlapping / moving objects, etc. It is also compatible with our masking markers ( green / red ). Working in the mask editor is improved now.
    • Stability of anti-ghost decisions: in previous versions, it could happen that the decision taken by the antighost algorithm in the editor, was not the same as the one taken during the rendering. This was not acceptable anymore if you have a visual feedback on seams. The problem with having the same decision is that a render is needed for the whole panorama before we can display anything on the screen ( even if the editor is opened on just a small part of the panorama. The whole panorama influences the antighost, not just the displayed zone ).
      So, even if it means an initial, global slow down of the preview at first, we decided to do a quick render of the global panorama when opening the mask editor so we can guarantee to display the real seam locations.
      You can also notice that when zooming into the realtime preview, the seams will refine themselves depending on the zoom factor, but they won’t change location anymore.

    With these 2 improvements to the anti-ghost system, managing ghosts is really better. And we think that it is way faster than painting into input images.
    We were asked several times to add that feature. But with these improvements, we are waiting for feedback to see, if it is still considered needed or not.

    Miscellaneous improvements

    In many parts of the software, we did other improvements. The most important are explained here:

    • Gigapan import improvement: In some cases, with a lot of unlinked images, the Gigapan import could fail. We a lot of did work on this algorithm to make it more robust.
      With current Gigapan tests cases, the system is much more robust now, even in cases where you don’t have the exif data anymore.
    • Area selection tool: For editing big panoramas, you can use the ctrl/cmd key while dragging. It will create a rectangular selection zone. Any image with it’s center inside this rectangle will be selected.
      This is a nice tool to move several images at the same time, for sky patching on gigapixels for example.
    • Zenith and nadir blending: In some rare cases, you could notice strange behavior at the zenith or nadir where a spot is visible, as if the blending didn’t work well on that zone.
      We found the solution for that and made it compatible with the automatic anti-ghost. You won’t have any blending issues at the zenith anymore.
    • Group management: When sorting images, it appeared that some of the functions that were on the right click on group were not that easy to use. We’ve improved them. Now, if you split
      a group at a given selected image, both groups stay close. Previously, the new group was created at the end of the group list. You have new function ‘keep selected’, just select some images
      in a group, use that, and it will remove all other images.
    • Memory optimization: We measured memory usage when working on big projects. There was space for improvement in that area and now it should be possible to do 10,000 images panorama
      on much smaller computers than before. This is a good news for record breakers ( go out and shoot! ), but also for small configurations who will be able to stitch bigger projects.

    Roadmap to final release

    There is still some work to do on our roadmap. Among them, we want to concentrate on the following topics:

    • External plugins: We have several external plugins available, lightroom, bridge, aperture. We need to update all of them to catch up with the latest versions of the software.
    • UI ressources: All icons have now a high version resolution, but almost none of the UI ressources have ( like sliders, buttons, etc ). We need to work on that part, and on the UI style to
      adapt to high DPI screens better.
    • UI improvements: We are waiting for feedback on this first beta to see what changes are needed on UI for the new features.
    • Translation: That work has not started yet, but will soon.

    For feedback and reports, please use the following forum for that: Autopano Pro / Giga 4 Bug and Feedback forum

    Note: we did a lot of R&D work that didn’t make it to this version. One example of that: we have an OpenCL renderer which accelerates a lot of the rendering. We couldn’t finish the work on it
    and we decided to post-pone these features for a future 4.X version.

    Fixes since 3.7.1:

    – 0004035: [GPU] fast editor behaviour

    – 0003805: [Import plugins] Gigapan case fails with ‘satelite’ images

    – 0004135: [Image I/O] Added new camera RAW support

    – 0002975: [Synapse ( detection )] rethink setting “group/detection_auto”

    – 0003190: [Neurone ( optimisation )] remove optimization step Final 2

    – 0001471: [Neurone ( optimisation )] Color anchor only

    – 0001536: [Image I/O] pink dng fuji S5 Pro

    – 0001799: [Image I/O] Crash when double click on a corrupted JPEG in a group

    – 0002096: [Main Editor] Jump when switching projection

    – 0001895: [Cortex ( rendu )] better giga pixel rendering

    – 0000219: [Main Editor] Big panoramas edition is slow

    – 0003775: [Main Editor] Display the “Visual similarity” of links and ctrl points into the ctrl points editor

    – 0001341: [Qt] Qt 5.0 target decision

    – 0001282: [Main Editor] Copy to new panorama – pano name wrong

    – 0001470: [UI behavior] Area selection tool for big panorama

    – 0000063: [Neurone ( optimisation )] GPU / CPU mode : la correction couleur est differente

    – 0000458: [Neurone ( optimisation )] Color correction a passer en jacobian complete

    – 0000969: [Cortex ( rendu )] Vignetting or not vignetting

    – 0001315: [Neurone ( optimisation )] Vignetting, new color model

    – 0001466: [Neurone ( optimisation )] Color correction issue on big panorama

    – 0001534: [Main Editor] Better mask mode

    – 0002036: [Cortex ( rendu )] Exposure fusion/HDR zenith problem

    – 0002175: [UI behavior] Better antighost preview

    – 0003945: [Image I/O] strange pixels row when doing little planets

    – 0003170: [Main Editor] Visual feedback for ISO mode

    – 0002304: [Cortex ( rendu )] Mask decision depends on rendering size

    – 0003889: [UI behavior] Cutting visualisation

    – 0003888: [UI behavior] new color correction

    – 0003570: [UI behavior] Qt 5 integration

    – 0003537: [Neurone ( optimisation )] New color correction model

    – 0003536: [GPU] Refound preview GPU for incresing editor performance

    – 0002787: [Cortex ( rendu )] Color issue on Zenith

    – 0003751: [Image I/O] Anti-ghost choice on the right border of a full spherical equi

    – 0003538: [Neurone ( optimisation )] New color correction solver


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