Hugin, Autopano-SIFT, Enblend and Panorama Tools – spreading the season’s goodwill

It amazes me the time and effort that people put into Free Software development. And as it’s a time of the year when giving is popular, I’d like to suggest that people donate something to their favourite or most improved Free Software project.

The set of software I’ve noticed most improvements in over this year is Hugin, which is a front end to Panorama Tools, Enblend and Autopano-SIFT. They are pieces of software that are designed to stitch together images into one large image. Panorama Tools is the software that does the actual stitching and manipulation of the image, although this is done mainly through a library now. Autopano-SIFT works out match points between images and does a very good job of it. Enblend light balances images to ensure the smoothest blending of them.

The last time I used Hugin, Enblend et al was about 6 months ago after a holiday to Rome. I had used them in the past, but found Hugin very unstable, crashing regularly. It was also a pain to manually assign matching points between images – Autopano didn’t exist then. You had to export your panorama to multiple TIFF files and then run Enblend manually to produce your final panorama – or accept the rough edges in the images if you don’t.

What’s great news is that these projects are now in Marillat’s repository and are apt-getable. This lead to some heavy revision of the wiki page I wrote on the subject, removing all the tedious compilation details and concentrating on the usage of the software.

I had vaguely noticed hugin and the other packages getting upgraded over the last few months but haven’t run them. Some edits to the above wiki page by Chris Dennis from HantsLUG prompted me to look into it some more. Being on leave from work meant that I had the time to tackle the panoramas from Rome that I’d been putting off because they seemed like a mammoth job.

Hugin is still fairly complex, but not overly so. The interface has been changed to make things a lot clearer. It’s much more stable too – it didn’t crash on me once. The autopano tool seems to do a better job of locating common points between photos than the Windows tools I used in the past. The best change over all is that all the tools are called by Hugin, so there’s no need to save your work as a number of separate TIFF files then manually call Enblend afterwards, for example.

It think it’s great to see projects co-operating like this and producing a great product as a result. The functionality of the panorama tools and Enblend don’t seem to have changed a huge amount, but Autopano and Hugin are just great. They also have donation buttons, so I’ve donated to them both.

An example of a panorama I produced using the software:

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