Kolor Autopano: Create A Panorama with Autopano Pro/Giga

29 Nov , 2017 VR Tutorials Dimona Dougherty

Kolor Autopano: Create A Panorama with Autopano Pro/Giga

Autopano from Kolor is an extremely powerful image, advanced image stitching program. Kolor was purchased by GoPro in 2017 which helped lower the software's price and boost its features. 

Its feature set makes creating spherical panoramas simple and straightforward. It is resource- and time-efficient, and makes for a fast, high-end panorama. Autopano sells at 99 euro but the feature set and its ease of use are worth the cost. 

This tutorial will cover the various features of Autopano and how to stitch a simple image set. 

The main feature of this piece of software is it's the creation of professional quality panoramas in a real-time panoramic editor. In the editor you can preview your render, manually edit control points for stitching gigapixel panoramic images. It features automatic HDR fusion so you can also use the HDR files for various special effects. 

With Autopano, you may import from over 400 different file formats, including almost all cameras' RAW output. 

Through Autopano you can generate a spherical panorama in JPG, PNG, TIFF, PSD / PSB, HDR, EXR and KRO, in 8 bit, 16 bit or 32 bit, all dependent upon the format you wish to use.

Within Autopano, there are plugins you can use on your work pre-final-stitch, such as the Neutralhazer to remove the haze from landscape photos. 

For the Giga package, there are also these following external plugins, for the following software to export to Autopano Giga: 

1. Lightroom Plugin

2. Aperture Plugin

3. Bridge Plugin

4. Picasa Plugin

Autopano recognizes and can assemble data obtained through a fisheye lens, so you are able to build equirectangular, 360 x 180° spherical panoramic interactive images with a minimum number of photographs.

Working with Autopano Giga

This tutorial assume that you are using the full Autopano Giga software with all its features enabled. You shall require a pre-stitched image set to work with also.

Kolor has spent a long time perfecting and rewriting the algorithms which are the key to Autopano’s simplicity and it utilizes a stitching engine called SIFT which they developed in partnership with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada) as part of a joint research project. The data is in, the studies complete, it can be shown empirically that the SIFT engine is the front runner out of all stitching algorithms around. It's the most accurate at collating images together and creating a panoramic image from smaller photos.

Prepare your images for use in autopano by creating a folder and placing all of them within that folder and giving it a relevant name that you can navigate to within Autopano itself. 

Once you’ve loaded the autopano program proper, it will automatically detect the panoramas from the image set you have loaded and will attempt to stitch them together. You may configure various options to personalize this process to the image set in the dialog box. Press the play button at the bottom left and autopano will automatically attempt to find panoramic data within the images you’ve provided it with. Autopano shall account for lens distortion amongst other things at this point which is why you only provide it with the set of images you wish to stitch. Rendering takes time and power so its a waste to set it to search through more than the required data.

The result is a list of available panoramas from you to choose from.

Once completed you are presented with a list of panoramas that Autopano was able to create from the image set you provided it with. Once chosen, you can use the editor to fine tune what Autopano has automatically created. To do this, press the edit button.

If the image that Autopano has automatically created is not level then you may use this function to fix it.

The panorama produced by autopano from your image set may have tonal aberrations and as such you may use the built in tone mapping features to correct this to start, use ‘Tone Mapping RH2’. This dialog enables the user to adjust luminosity through the Key value. You may play with that until you are satisfied or use the Levels as described below. Tone Mapping RH2 is actually more useful for high dynamic range (HDR). Adjusting Levels in autopano is similar to that of when adjusting levels in an image editing program such as Photoshop, Affinity Photo or GIMP.

Playing with the Gamma point level makes the image brighter or darker, whereas the black and white points of the histogram help make sure one achieves the tonal range required. Once completed, click the cog button and an options dialog shall appear.  Here, you can choose to save your work in Photoshop’s native file format for ease of use their which shall keep all layers intact for fine tuning of your image. Using a dense dots per inch of 300 will enable you to print your work out. Play around with both the DPI and the scale factor as different values are best used for different use cases.

Autopano can project your panorama in many different ways: Little-Planet, Panini, Hammer, Mirror Ball, Orthographic and others. Choose the projection with a click and adjust your image with the Panorama Move option which will remap your projection on the fly, you will see a real-time preview final render. A classic 360° photosphere is created by choosing the cylindrical or spherical projection. If you have a panorama that includes architectural monuments, you might prefer to retain the rectilinear projection, which will preserve their straight lines. You can also create original panoramas with projections like Little-Planet or Mirror Ball.

Dimona Dougherty
Dimona is a VR evangelist and spherical content creator based in London, UK. They have been experimenting within this arena since discovering VR as empathy machines whilst studying psychology at university. Dimona can be reached at Dimonauk@360camerasandfilm.co.uk or on social media by searching for dimonauk.

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