REALVIZ Stitcher vs. PTGui (1)
Like any software, Stitcher has its quirks and bugs and these are of course most apparent (and annoying) to heavy users (of which I'll consider myself one). The Stitcher team has, over time, addressed many of these quirks/bugs -- but of course new ones always crop up. This isn't surprising for Stitcher or for any piece of software being developed. I develop my own interactive QuickTime 'widget' which is used by many in our VR development community, and constantly have to address its quirks and issues.
I have been a longtime Stitcher user (since ~v3.5), and generally have been a happy REALVIZ customer. No longer.
what follows is my personal opinion and thinking, not necessarily endorsed by the ivrpa. everyone who knows me, knows that i am very excited about VR photography and development, and that i try to support everyone who is involved in our niche industry. it is rare that i get frustrated enough to rant.
What I find frustrating is the lack of communication (recent communiqués from the CEO notwithstanding) from the REALVIZ team to its users. There is a Stitcher forum, which is very active, provided by REALVIZ for its customer base/the development community. Regrettably, the Stitcher team itself isn't very well represented on the forums.
This isn't to say that I think the REALVIZ-provided forum should be seen as a direct pipeline or red phone to the Stitcher team -- it's just that many people come to and use the forum because they are not getting any response to directly emailed support issues. note: unhappy forum posts which make mention of competing stitching software are censored, along with their writers being banned
I have more than a few posts to the Stitcher forum; some are questions, others are helpful (I hope) responses to others' questions. Off-forum, I have recommended Stitcher to countless VR developers/shooters.
One of my most recent posts to the forum is a question to the Stitcher team, basically, because I have had recent frustrating, protracted and misinformational email conversation with the REALVIZ support team.
REALVIZ has come out with a "dot" upgrade to Stitcher 5.1 -- the 5.5 Pro and 5.5 Unlimited versions. It being a dot upgrade, I assumed I'd be able to seamlessly (and without cost) move from v5.1 to one or the other of the new versions.
Several weeks ago, and after being deluged with "Buy Stitcher!" emails from REALVIZ's Los Angeles based sales rep, Wolfgang, I began inquiring around about how to upgrade. I couldn't really find any info, anywhere, and an email to REALVIZ support went unanswered.
Finally, to shorten the story, after several un- or mis-informative back-and-forths with different people from REALVIZ support -- and only after I CC'ed sales and Wolfgang -- it was determined that my only path to upgrade is to purchase the 5.1-to-5.5 (pro or unlimited) upgrade, and use my version 3.5 serial number.
This mystifies me, not only because I've been a paying customer all the way from the aforementioned version 3.5 to version 5.1, but also because this is a dot upgrade. By all accounts, 5.5 Pro is useless to most people as an upgrade (see quote below). ...And 5.5 Unlimited should be touted as a version 6 in my thinking, if I'm going to be required to shell out my hard earned cash for it.
What is further frustrating is that Stitcher's upgrades don't seem to address the basic fact that its in-house blending and seaming algo, well, sucks.
My experience since the beginning is that Stitcher outputs some soft seams. I've put up with it because of workarounds (output to PSD) and using postproduction tools such as Photoshop. Including the "enblend" option in a (free) dot upgrade alleviated this issue somewhat.
Now, in both the latest version and in the demo upgrades, I'm getting misalignments along with soft stitches. My gut feeling is that I'm expected to pay REALVIZ for a dot upgrade, simply for the luxury of using a plugged-in tool (a la enblend, which is freely available to all, already) with their software. To further fan the flames, see this forum post; I quote the salient portion below (emphasis added), which is from REALVIZ support to a Stitcher user, just in case it should be removed from the Stitcher forum:
Then let me explain. There is no upgrade from Stitcher 5.1 to 5.5 Pro versions because the application you are using is better than the one offered. Why? Because we wish to offer, to all customers, the possibility to use Stitcher. The Stitcher 5.1 is the best deal in the moment. If you use fisheye images then you should upgrade to Stitcher 5.5 Unlimited, but an upgrade to 5.5 Pro will not be interesting for you.
Digital Imaging Manager EMEA
So, already successfully using fisheye images with Stitcher 5.1, and not being such a die-hard Stitcher user that I'm loath to try other software, I began looking for options. PTGui for Mac is an extremely promising option, with an active developer forum and an amazingly responsive developer. PTGui's beta version, in my experience, is vastly superior to Stitcher. And at one-fifth the cost.
For Stitcher users who are reading this: Batch Processing in PTGui rocks!
More as it comes, regarding PTGui and the removal of (overpriced, undersupported, buggy and frustrating) REALVIZ Stitcher from my workflow.