ICE is Microsoft Image Composite Editor and it has been around for at least a couple of years, and maybe longer. I first looked at it quite a long time ago and found it useful for creating panoramas from photos taken with a mobile phone or digital camera. It would automatically stitch images together and then let you save the resulting photograph.
That was just before panorama features became common on smartphone cameras. Once all middle to top end phones could easily take panoramas, it was not really needed. Now it deserves another look because you can import video clips and wherever you pan a video shot, you can turn it into a panorama and export the resulting image to disk. It is really good.
You start off by loading a video into ICE and several common file formats are supported, so clips taken with Android phones and iPhones are fine.
ICE then shows what looks like a simple video editor, and there are in and out (or start and end) markers that you can drag to set where the panorama is to be taken from. This is needed because you may not want to include everything, and the clip may have more than one section where you pan the camera.
There are some different options for selecting the camera motion in the menu in the top right corner, but leave it set to Auto-detect the first time you try this. You can return and try different settings later and then compare the differences and see which method is better.
Clicking the Next button takes you to the next step. Let the Image Composite Editor do its magic and when it has finished, you will see a screen like this.
There are roll, pitch and yaw settings at the bottom and this is basically to rotate it in various ways if you did not keep the camera horizontal when shooting the video. The image can also be clicked and dragged to position it, there is a zoom in/out control at the top, and the corners can be dragged to rotate it.
The Projections list on the right adds various special effects and they can be previewed by clicking them.
When you are happy with the image, move on to the next step where you can crop the image. This is needed because when the video frames are stitched together, the tops and bottoms don’t line up exactly. A box is drawn around the image and the handles are dragged to crop it.
Finally, the panoramic image can be saved to disk. There are several different formats, such as JPEG, Photoshop, TIFF, and BMP. The quality can be set when saving as a JPEG. The image can be scaled too, and the default is 100%, but any value can be entered to make it larger or smaller.
The results are very good and the images are excellent. Of course, it cannot turn a bad video into a great panorama, but providing the video is a reasonable quality, and top-end phones can shoot HD video, then the resulting panoramas look brilliant.
Click the image above to see the finished image. Bear in mind that it is saved for the web and the original is twice the size and much sharper.
Video by Microsoft
Try Microsoft ICE with some of your video clips and create some panoramas, it is quick and easy.