The Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) is a tool created by Microsoft Research which can be used to create panoramic images. It’s essentially the same technology that Windows Live Photo Gallery uses “under the hood” when you create panoramic photos in the software (just like Alexa does in the latest commercial – and lest you think these kids are far more tech savvy than you – I can assure you that the process is dead simple).
But unlike the panoramic technology that runs in WLPG, the ICE software provides a few extra features, too. The most important one is the orientation tool. With this, you can change the orientation of a photo to give the impression that a tilt/shift lens was used. For example:
You could also use a perspective projection instead of a cylindrical one with the tool. Example:
Or you could set the mid-point of a 360-degree panorama:
ICE also adds a variety of export options including Deep Zoom and HD View. Use ICE to export to either of these two options and it will generate a web page that handles viewing these images in a much more efficient manner (they tend to be very large images by default). For Deep Zoom photos, the web page will use Silverlight to allow for interactivity with the image. HD View is like Deep Zoom but also adds some extra affects – it can rewarp the panorama on the fly using a fish-eye lens, auto-exposure adjust for looking into those deep shadows of the panorama, and it will support wide-color-gamut monitors. HD View is still more experimental technology and will require a special plugin. You can get it here.
Add to Photo Gallery!
Now you can take this advanced ICE photo manipulation technology and integrate it into Windows Live Photo Gallery. Just download it and install it. You’ll then see a new menu item in the WLPG “Extras” menu:
To use ICE, simply select a group of images and then launch it using the new menu item.