Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

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seigell
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Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by seigell » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:33 pm

PTA has a great depth of "hidden" tools and features (yes, RTFM is probably applicable here - and I have done so), so I'm hoping that I've simply missed those which would help make "Management" of a large Project easier.

As an example, I've got a 34-panel 104-exposure-bracketed 3-row by 10-rank handheld Pano Project currently in the works.
The subject is a deep backcountry ridgetop overlook taken in the Colorado Mountains at the end of a 5-mile high-altitude hike and ridgeline scramble.
It has a number of problems, as it was taken without benefit of tripod while I stood exposed in a strong wind while out-of-breath from the altitude and the effort to get that vantage point. I also rushed, both because of the lightning storm threatening nearby and the quickly changing light from breaks in the heavy and low overcast.
While not perfect, I believe this scene is salvageable given a decent bit of effort.

Working toward this, I've again realized that I am missing some tricks or features that PTA might already have built-in specific to dealing with large "poorly behaved" Pano Projects. I have some Exposure Bracket "Triplets" which aren't 100% aligned. I have problems with a couple of "heavily overlapped" triplets, as well as a few with barely sufficient overlap. I have a couple of triplets with one image unusable. I have "horizon control issues" as the images approach 360*. I have focus stacking issues where nearby rocks on ridgeline gives way to distant valley.
All of these are manageable, in general, in PTA (I've done it before). But, I'm having a difficult time "managing" the Project while working to overcome any one of the above issues. The protracted cycle of "identify images and action; make specific correction; render full image at reduced size; review results" has already consumed days of my time, as much for my struggles to manage the quantity of images as the cpu time to render Previews or Full Images.

(For me, the easiest way to describe the tricks and features I need help to find, is to detail them as if a Feature Request.)
  • 1. Ability to "disable" (without removing from Project) selected Images
    • a. Column in Step #1 Project Table to select "disabled" images
      b. Preview Viewer option to draw only "not-disabled" images (either in context of entire Project for Image Borders and Control Points display, or zoomed to area of "enabled" images) - results would include reduced drawing time and cpu; reduced "distraction" from "disabled" images; improved ability to act on "enabled" images
      c. Create Final Image option to render only "enabled" images or full project - significantly speed rendition of "evaluation" images necessary to identify "problem areas" and check success of "corrections"
    2. Ability to "navigate" images via Exposure Bracketted "Triplets" (or other multiple)
    • a. Column in Step #1 Project Table to identify "Triplets" and "Lead Image of Triplet" (in Exposure Bracketting identify the "central exposure") - this is implicitly available in the "Stack/LayerID" but not actionable for other interactive tasks
      b. Ability to "enable" only the "Lead Images" for navigation and action in the Step #3 Control Point Window and Preview Viewer
      c. Option in PTAPicker or CP Optimizer to isolate "non-lead images" to CPs within that "triplet", while managing CPs between "lead images" of all "triplets"
    3. Ability to identify / highlight individual images hidden (not already foremost) in Preview Viewer by hovering over "cluster" of Image Borders or by textbox data entry, and/or draw Image Borders onto Full Image.
Hopefully PTA has a number of "hidden" tricks which can help me address some of the challenges I encounter in my larger PTA Projects (such as described for the current project). And maybe, if not available, a few of these items might make their way into a Version 6.x...

(Thanks for reading through this long post)
Last edited by seigell on Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

seigell
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:26 pm

Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by seigell » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:48 pm

I know that much of the "disable" images Feature is available in the "Select Images" pop-up on Step #5 Preview and Create tab. But with so much of the per-image information only available in the Step #1 Project Table, I still have trouble managing the images of the current Region of Interest. And I am hoping there is some trick that allows even this "Select Images" selection to influence the navigation in the Step #3 Control Point tool.

maxlyons
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Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by maxlyons » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:00 pm

Thanks for the suggestions.

Currently, I don't think that PTAssembler has most of what you have requested, but I will consider them.

If I understand your suggestion correctly, I like the idea of identifying a "lead" image in a stack of images. That could be useful for control point picking; typically, I select control points between the "lead" image in a stack, and then go back and select control points between all images in each stack. If an image was explicitly specified as the "lead" in a stack, then this could be automated.

I may add the ability to disable an image on the step 1 screen, but I fear this might be confusing because an image can be "selected" for inclusion in previews/final images on Step 5, and it can also be "used" during optimization on Step 4. If an image is "disabled", is that a third concept (i.e. selected, used and/or disabled)? And, should it interact with the other concepts?

Much more generally, the feedback I have been getting from users (and potential users) is that PTAssembler is so complex they give up and try a more automagic program. With this in mind, I am somewhat reluctant to add a lot more buttons, columns, check-boxes, and other items to an (already complex) program. Given that these suggestions are largely useful to folks who create panoramic images with stacked images, I wonder if some of these features could be implemented in a way that they would need to be specifically enabled, and be invisible to everybody else.

Max

Terrywoodenpic
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Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by Terrywoodenpic » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:57 am

PTA is very complex when you consider how simple and limited the opening Gui looks.
The onion like layers of possibilities are now quite mind blowing, and must be frightening to a newcomer.
Perhaps you would have more takers, if it opened with a choice of experience levels and options.

I have been using it for a few years now and rarely use some of the features, and can struggle to remember "How" in some instances.
I have taken to trying the simplest method first Auto everything with smartblend selected and stopping at the preview. Often that is all the options needed even for hand helds. My next stage is to check the control points, remove some and add others as needed then try again. Any thing beyond that needs you to stop,think and consider the options. some are obvious like straightening verticals or horizons. Others like starting from scratch reprocessing the raws as two files and tufuseing them in the work flow is rather more work, as is masking etc.

Perhaps a starting screen that shows basic Auto and an advanced option leading to functions that can be checked on or off, to make them visible, might be one way forward. These checks should only change the visibility not the actual functionality of the program.

In fact some things like masking are hardly visible at all unless you know the "Secret"
Terry

old decrepit and still taking photographs

maxlyons
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Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by maxlyons » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:27 am

Terry,

I like the idea...I have already thought about doing that. I think one could make PTAssembler effectively behave like two different programs, with the simpler program only having a few controls/buttons/features. In a simpler version, I think I would hide the entire concept of control points/optimization from the user, allow for only one projection (rectilinear as input, and cylindrical as output), get rid of most/all lens parameters (step 2), and rely exclusively on the camera's embedded EXIF data for calculation of FOV. I might also get rid of all exposure/focus stacking, although perhaps I could implement some "auto-stack" type of feature that would just try and do the "right thing" when the program finds overlapping images. Output choices would be blended TIFF or blended JPEG, and all images would be auto-cropped. I might give a choice of output size, but (as surprising as it may sound to experienced users) the concept of the "right size" for a final panorama confuses people. Perhaps a "small/medium/large" choice would be better. Masks would be eliminated. Camera position parameters would be eliminated. Brightness/vignetting correction would be an "on/off" feature. And so on...

In fact, now that I'm writing all of this, I suspect it might be easier to just to write a simplified GUI for the underlying tools (e.g. control point picker, optimizer, stitcher, blender, erc.) from scratch rather than trying to torture PTAssembler into working in two very different ways. I will think about it some more.

Max

seigell
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Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by seigell » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:05 pm

I've used PTA long enough that I feel the general GUI really IS the Simple Version of the wealth of features hidden within PTA's "Cluster of Apps".
I usually DO start by dumping in the batch of images associated with the intended Pano, and simply pushing the Auto-Create button. Then, the fun starts as I work to refine those areas where the CP Picker or Optimizer or Blender had issues.

I honestly don't know where an even more "Simplified GUI" would help, for my uses. But, then, being a longtime PTA'er, my usage experiences wouldn't be the same as someone encountering PTA for the 1st or 2nd time.

My challenges mostly occur when I choose to "push" PTA toward the upper end of it's abilities to deal with my selected sets of images.
So, it seems that I would be suggesting "additional complexities" in the GUI, rather than additional simplification. But that doesn't mean that I'd vote against a 2nd GUI that presented a very simple set of choices for real beginners.

seigell
Posts: 90
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 10:26 pm

Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by seigell » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:28 pm

maxlyons wrote:If I understand your suggestion correctly, I like the idea of identifying a "lead" image in a stack of images. That could be useful for control point picking; typically, I select control points between the "lead" image in a stack, and then go back and select control points between all images in each stack. If an image was explicitly specified as the "lead" in a stack, then this could be automated.
It could be as simple as a "Images collected as Exposure Bracket sets" and perhaps an Integer "Multiples" selection box with "3", "5", and possibly other values, placed on the Step #2 screen.
Of course, there might be a challenge to provide a manner for the user to manually "mark" these "lead" images on the Step #1 Project Table. This would be important for cases when one includes less images in a "Bracketted Set" than the full complement - due to discarding an unusable image with Sun Flair or Excessive Movement or other major blemish. This would allow user to "re-sync" the "lead" mark when submitting a "3-3-2-3-3" sort of image sequence. (Nothing is as simple as it seems, once you start to consider "plausible usage"...)
maxlyons wrote:I may add the ability to disable an image on the step 1 screen, but I fear this might be confusing because an image can be "selected" for inclusion in previews/final images on Step 5, and it can also be "used" during optimization on Step 4. If an image is "disabled", is that a third concept (i.e. selected, used and/or disabled)? And, should it interact with the other concepts?
I was envisioning that PTA used the same "enabled/selected" marker throughout. It is just that the Step #1 Project Table has significantly more data displayed per image than the Step #5 Select Images exposure.

Terrywoodenpic
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Location: Saddleworth England

Re: Tricks to "Manage" large Pano Projects ??

Post by Terrywoodenpic » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:52 pm

maxlyons wrote:Terry,



In fact, now that I'm writing all of this, I suspect it might be easier to just to write a simplified GUI for the underlying tools (e.g. control point picker, optimizer, stitcher, blender, erc.) from scratch rather than trying to torture PTAssembler into working in two very different ways. I will think about it some more.

Max
Max
It would be nice to be able to switch to the advanced Gui mid stream so to speak. That way learners could try out more options as they progress in their learning curve. the advanced Gui could even have more dedicated buttons for those who want them....
Terry
Terry

old decrepit and still taking photographs

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