Photo nerdery + UBC = Autostitch


Autostitched panoramic photo: castewar, who suggested this story.

Once again, I am missing my trusty digital camera, which is currently vacationing in Greece. The particular reason this time is because I have been directed to a free photo stitching utility called Autostitch, which was created by Matthew Brown and David Lowe at UBC, automatically assembles panoramic images from your photos, and looks like a ton of fun.

I actually did some very early work with panoramic images 1996, back when creating Quicktime VRs was cutting-edge Web 1.0 technology. Now, ten years too late, this toy comes along that would have made my job easier. Oh well. It’s PC only, by the way, but the technology has been licensed in various products, including at least one Mac application.

Here’s a hint, by the way: I’m almost certain, after reading the details of how this algorithm works, that it will give better results if you use a tripod to keep the camera in the same position for all of the shots.

I gossiped with a friend who is acquainted with the UBC computing science department, and he says that David Lowe is a “smart cookie.” The proof is in another project of his, SIFT.

What is SIFT? The layman’s version is that it can look at multiple views of a scene (say, a video clip for example), match up which features belong to the same object in different frames of the video, and from that it should be able to reconstruct a 3-D model of the scene.

If you have to model or capture 3-D objects for a living (Electronic Arts does a lot of this), this is a big deal.

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