Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

March, 2009

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE)


    Hello, I’m Matt Uyttendaele. I normally post over on the HD View blog, but today the Digital Memories Team is giving me this space to talk about Microsoft ICE.  In my blog post announcing the Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE), I mentioned the tight integration with the next version of Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG).  That next version has been available for a while now, so I wanted to give WLPG users a quick intro to ICE.  Most of you are probably familiar with the “create panoramic image” capabilities in WLPG.  My team in Microsoft Research developed the technology behind this.  ICE is another tool that you can use to create panoramic images.  It uses the same technology as WLPG under the hood and adds a few features. 

    Orientation Tool

    Probably the most important feature is the orientation tool.  When creating a panoramic photo there are many different ways that you may want to show the result.  In the pictures below are examples of this.  In the first case, the user has modified the orientation to give the impression that a tilt/shift lens was used.  In the second case, the user decided to use a perspective projection instead of a cylindrical one.  In the final example, the user had a 360-degree panorama and wanted to set the midpoint of the panorama slightly differently. 

    Choose the panorama orientation in ICE:



    default result

    tilt-shift effect created by ICE

    Choose a custom projection in ICE:



    cylinder – notice curved roof lines

    perspective – roof lines now straight but left-right edges are more stretched

    Choose a 360 mid-point in ICE:

    initial result


    subject in the middle


    These edits were all achieved using the ICE orientation tool.  This tool gives you interactive feedback of your adjustments, so it is easy to experiment and get exactly what you want out of it.  The pictures above give an idea of what you can do with the orientation tool, but the best way to get a feel for the tool is to try it out on your own panoramas. 

    Export Options

    The second major feature is the wide variety of export options. The most interesting of these are Deep Zoom and HD View.  When you create a panorama with WLPG or ICE, the result can be a very large image.  Posting this mega-image to the web results in a less-than-ideal experience for people who want to look at it.  It takes a long time to download, and viewing in a browser isn’t a great way to experience it.  Deep Zoom and HD View are a great way to solve this problem.   If you select one of these export options, then ICE will generate a web page that handles viewing these images in a much more efficient manner.  In either case, the web page uses a special browser plug-in.  For Deep Zoom this plug-in is Silverlight – which will let people interact with your panorama using any browser on PC or Mac.  You can view some examples of Deep Zoom pages created by ICE on the Microsoft Research web site

    HD View is an interesting option for those of you who want to check out Microsoft Research prototype technology.  Just like Deep Zoom, HD View allows users to interact efficiently with very large images over the web.  It has some cool additional capabilities like being able to rewarp the panorama on the fly using a fish-eye lens, auto-exposure adjust for looking into those deep shadows of the panorama, and support for wide-color-gamut monitors.  The HD View web page has some great examples to look at.

    WLPG Integration

    For most of your panorama creation projects WLPG probably does everything that you need it to do.  However, at times you may need to do some of the more advanced things mentioned here.  So, I encourage you to download ICE and give it a try.  Oh yeah, just like WLPG, ICE is free.  Finally, I need to mention the integration with WLPG.  Once you’ve installed ICE, you’ll see a new menu item in the WLPG “Extras” menu, as shown below.  You simply select a group of images and launch ICE using this menu item.


    -- Matt Uyttendaele, Microsoft Research

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tree in the way? No problem!


    One of the cool things about panoramic stitching in Windows Live Photo Gallery is that you can use it to shoot around foreground objects.

    Here’s an example from the Woodland Park Zoo where branches (and a fence) prevented me from getting a clean shot of two Zebras in a field. However, by repositioning my body for the source images (to shoot around branches) and later stitching the images together, I was able to easily get the image I wanted.

    Here’s a diagram of how I shot through the trees:


    Here are the three source images with the tree branches highlighted:


    Here is the resulting stitch image. No branches! :)

    2009-02-05 Grant and the Zoo 099 Stitch

    To see a few other interesting uses of panoramic stitching, check out this blog post.

    - Mike Morrison, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Check out AutoCollage


    Hi, I’m JP Wollersheim. I’ve posted here before. My family takes tons of photos. One challenge we have is how to display multiple photos on one “canvas” to tell a story.  There are great products in the market that tell a linear story like Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Photo Gallery screensaver, Windows Media Center, or Windows Live FrameIt.  These products allow you to put together a set of photos and view separately in a linear fashion – one at a time.

    There are times when you would like to see all your photos on the same screen or canvas as a collage. There are products to do that, however, typically they require a ton of work to look good.  The example below took me about 25 minutes to create and it’s still not exactly what I was looking for.  The square edges are a bit jarring, and it’s super difficult to get all of the photos in the template that I was given. 


    Microsoft Research solves problems like these so your photos really come to life.  Our Cambridge Innovation Development team in Microsoft Research built AutoCollage (30-day free trial and If you like it, it’s only $14.95) which enables users to build a beautiful collage on seconds. Check out the difference using the exact same 12 photos:

    Here’s how I did it:

    1. Download AutoCollage

    2. Start Windows Live Photo Gallery and find your photos you want to use.  From Date taken (a) I selected July 2008, and (b) searched for “Lucy.”  I then (c) organized by rating, and used all my 4 start photos. Here’s a trick:  (d) Click on 4 star, it will select all of those photos – so you don’t have to select them one at a time.

    3. Next, I launched AutoCollage by selecting Add to AutoCollage... from the Extras menu.

    4. Photo Gallery launched the AutoCollage application with the photos I selected and had it do its magic. From the Options menu in AutoCollage I chose to make the finished composition the same size as my screen resolution so the correct aspect ratio and dimensions would be chosen and the finished photo would look good on my computer.

    I used the slider to tell AutoCollage I wanted to use all 12 of the photos. 


    5. The final output looked like this. 


    6. Next I selected Desktop from the menu on the right and saved it as my desktop background.  It was that easy!


    - JP Wollersheim, Product Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tell me more about Windows Live Movie Maker beta


    Our very own JP is at it again over on the Windows Live team blog. He just posted a very quick update on Windows Live Movie Maker (Beta). Check his post out: Tell me more about Windows Live Movie Maker beta

    Quick snippet from his post:

    So, for the beta release of Windows Live Movie Maker a few months ago, we focused on making sure we had these key functionalities running smoothly first:

    • adding digital photos and videos easily
    • making editing commands easier to find with the new Ribbon user interface
    • publishing movies quickly and easily

    We know we still have a lot of work to do to get Windows Live Movie Maker ready for final release. We’ve been reading your feedback and comments on the first Windows Live Movie Maker beta post and are working to add more of the features and functionality we hear you asking for. Rest assured, there’s lots more good stuff to come.

    - Digital Memories Experience team

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