Product Review: PixMaker Lite (Part 3)
If You Can Stand Up...
For best results taking pictures to assemble into a panorama, you should use a tripod with a level, becuase otherwise you might get a kind of tilt to the picture, and if you spin it too fast (especially in the standalone viewer, although you also can control the speed in the Java applet), you could actually get nauseated. But if you can stand up straight and hold the camera steady, you'll probably do pretty well your first time too.
If you don't even have a digital camera, you can scan in photos, or have your pictures developed into Photo CD format or by an outfit such as Ofoto. It's just much easier to use a digital camera because you can instantly take the pictures over again if there was a problem.
The software itself is so easy to use that it's remarkable (here's the official guide, if you insist :-). Everything is intuitive; you can simply move the pictures around to rearrange them if necessary; and literally pressing a few buttons is all you have to do to stitch the pictures together and put them into publishable form. You still have to actually upload them to your server yourself, but that shouldn't stop anyone. And you can even create a "panorama postcard": a self-extracting viewer with your panorama inside, although it will end up as rather a large attachment if you send it by email. The only suggestion I will make is to use the fastest computer you can get your hands on, as the stitching process is quite CPYU-intensive; a 400 MHz Pentium II or higher would be ideal.
What Are You Waiting For?
At the very least, the ability to create this kind of image should be in your bag of tricks as a Web designer. My hat's off to PixAround.com for creating this wonderful technology and sharing it with the world. I know I'll be quite interested in their PixMaker 1.0 when it's released, with the ability to link to other PixMaker scenes or Web sites from within the picture. Did I mention they're working on a viewer for the Palm and Windows CE?
Not half bad for a company that's been in operation for a month.
-- David Fiedler
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This article first appeared in May, 2000.