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RealViz Stitcher 5

Panoramic and VR application still a winner By Stephen Schleicher

If you have ever wanted to take those large dramatic panoramic landscape shots, but have had nothing but problems aligning the images in other applications, then Stitcher 5 is the program for you.  If you have ever needed to quickly create a QuickTime VR movie for your real estate or tour website, then Stitcher 5 is the program for you.  Heres why.

When I first used RealVizs Stitcher five years ago, I was totally blown away with the ease of use, accuracy, and high quality output.  With Stitcher 5 it is even easier to use than before.

Stitcher 5 has undergone a huge interface change.  The confusing menu bars and esoteric icons have been replaced with five icons that walk you through the creation process.  As you roll over the icons, they gracefully expand to give you access to many other functions.


Possibly taking a cue from the Mac OS X dock, is the magnifying effect that occurs as you roll over the images at the bottom of the screen.  This is great because you can keep the thumbnails small until you need a more detailed view.

Besides the interface redux, the biggest and best new feature is the fully automatic stitching engine.  Instead of dragging and dropping your images and hoping they fit together correctly, Stitcher 5 does the work for you with a click of a single button.  This is awesome for those who need to quickly generate content without having to manually place and stitch images.  This is also very handy if you have a large number of original images to wade through.  Because there is no learning curve with the automatic stitching engine a novice will be able to generate content in minutes.

While it may be a little slow (5 minutes to stitch 41 1600x1200 images), it does an excellent job of aligning and blending the photos. 

For those really odd shots with complex textures, Stitcher now includes manual stitching allowing you to place markers in two images to get them to align correctly.  I really like this feature as it has been a constant issue with many a ground and rock wall texture over the years.

Also quite nice is Live Preview.  When this is activated a small window shows you how the panorama will look when rendered.  This keeps you from having to guess what the end result will look like.

If you are rendering QTVR movies, it can sometimes be a pain to figure out what will be the initial start image.  With real time previews, you can set it without ever going into a render setting panel.

And speaking of rendering, you can save and load presets to export the file in various formats.  If you need a QuickTime VR movie, a spherical image map, or even a long planar image from the same project, they can be quickly accessed.

The Preview Renders are also much sharper than before.  In the past, one of every five previews I did would for whatever reason be of low quality that would tell me nothing about the final output.  I did not experience any issues with this latest release and marveled at the high quality previews.

Stitcher 4 allowed for the importing of Photoshop PSD files.  Stitcher 5.0 kicks it up a notch by allowing you to import Photoshop files with masks.  The mask imports as a stencil which will be used during the render to block out those unwanted elements that would otherwise detract from a beautiful shot.

  Stitcher 5 Requirements

Microsoft® Windows® 2000 SP2, XP 

  • Intel® Pentium® IV 1 GHz or equivalent
  • 256 MB RAM - 512 MB recommended
  • Graphical card 32 MB RAM,OpenGL® compatible
  • 100 MB free disk space  

Apple® Macintosh® OS X v10.3 

  • Power PC G4 533 MHz
  • 256 MB RAM - 512 MB recommended
  • Graphical card 32 MB RAM, OpenGL® compatible
  • 100 MB free disk space
If I had any complaints it would be accessing some of the features.  For the most part Stitcher 5 requires little to no reading of the manual.  However some of the new features (like the Manual Stitch) require you dive into the online help menu to figure out how they work. While the documentation is clear, some of the helpful tips show up as a semi dark gray over a light gray background making it hard to read at times.

Yes, thats right, only a few minor issues when working with Stitcher 5.  RealViz deserves a round of applause for implementing the Manual and Automatic Stitch features in this release.  These new functions will allow anyone to create high quality images for their animation, digital still photography, or special effects projects.  At only $580, this is a steal.  Once again, I give RealViz Stitcher 5.0 a Must Buy Recommendation.

For more information on Stitcher or any of the other RealViz products, visit www.realviz.com

 


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleâ??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnâ??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

Related Keywords:realviz, stitcher, panoramic, quicktime vr, product, landscape photography, planar image map, 3d, special effects, photo stiching, schleicher, review

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