First Look Review: REALVIZ Stitcher Unlimited v5.5

14 Sep, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Highly recommended software stitches together multiple images to create wide-angle and panoramic visualizations

Stitcher Unlimited v5.5
Pros: Clean interface; good file support for input and output; well designed.
Cons: None significant.
Price: $119 Stitcher Express, $349 Stitcher Pro, $580 Stitcher Unlimited


In July, REALVIZ introduced three versions of its panorama creation software, including Stitcher Express 2 for digital photography hobbyists, Stitcher Pro 5.5 for professional photographers and graphic artists, and Stitcher Unlimited 5.5 for professional panorama creators. Cadalyst reviewed Stitcher Unlimited, which installs quickly and easily, getting you to the simple interface fast so you can begin to combine images.

A completed panorama created in Stitcher Unlimited, showing the clean connection of multiple images.

The basic concept of Stitcher is to cleanly and seamlessly stitch together a number of still images into a whole -- typically a wide-angle or panoramic view -- without it being apparent that the resulting image was generated from multiple images. Stitcher has long been adept at seamlessly combining multiple images, but with new types of stitched output and new blending technologies, this release increases its capabilities. A number of tutorials are provided, as well as an excellent online Help system if needed.

Using Stitcher Unlimited's simple interface, it's easy to autostitch a project.

Building on an already extensive set of features, Stitcher Unlimited v5.5 adds a number of new features, including fish-eye stitching; Embedded Smart Blend technology for rendering; and several new options for publishing panoramas on the Internet, including a Java-based Pure Player from ImmerVision, a Shockwave 3D-based Spi-V Viewer from Field-of-View, KML-based export to geo-reference panoramic images using the Google Earth browser, as well as HTML export.

Stitcher Unlimited's file support is very good. It imports CIN, JPG, IFF, TDI, PNG, SGI, RGB, PIC, TIF, TGA and BMP files. You can export from Stitcher Unlimited in a variety of file formats, too, including PSD, JPG, IFF, PNG, PPM, SGI, PIC, MOV, TIF, TGA, W3D and VRML (PNG and JPG).

To create your panoramas in Stitcher Unlimited, you can start with images from any high-resolution digital camera. REALVIZ recommends that whenever possible, you should use a tripod and a panoramic pan head for capturing images. This prevents parallax and ensures sufficient overlap between the images that are stitched together to make up the final panoramic image. If you have a traditional camera, you can scan the images or have a photo lab digitize them for transfer to your computer, as long as all images are scanned at the same resolution and size.

Stitcher Unlimited v5.5 runs on Windows and Macintosh systems. For the Windows systems, the minimum requirements are an Intel Pentium 4 1GHz or equivalent processor with 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended), running Microsoft Windows XP. It requires an OpenGL-compatible graphics card with at least 32MB of RAM and 100MB of free hard disk space. The minimum requirements for a Macintosh system are a Power PC G4 533MHz with 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended), running Apple Macintosh OSX v10.4. It requires an OpenGL-compatible graphics card with at least 32MB of RAM, plus 100MB of free hard disk space for installation. Stitcher Unlimited is not yet compatible with Intel-based Macs.

Pricing for Stitcher Express starts at $119, Stitcher Pro 5.5 starts at $349 and Stitcher Unlimited v5.5 starts at $580. REALVIZ also offers panorama heads for use with your tripod, as well as a number of other visualization tools and bundles. Visit the company Web site for additional information and numerous FAQs that will help answer any questions you might have.

Stitcher Unlimited is a moderately priced, very capable and easy-to-use tool for combining images into panoramas or fish-eye images, and it offers a clean interface and many surprising extras -- such as support for Google Earth.
Highly Recommended.

A still panorama from REALVIZ Stitcher displayed in Google Earth.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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