What tools for combining multiple frames into single non-panoramic image
December 8, 2014 12:14 PM   Subscribe

I would like to take multiple photographs, or video frames, and combine them in different ways. An example of this would be to take many frames of a monument on a busy day, and then generate a picture of the monument with no people by taking the empty spaces from different frames. Or to simulate a long exposure by averaging multiple frames taken over time.

In Photoshop this can be accomplished by using the "smart object stack mode" with a few different options. This is pretty good, but Photoshop is kind of overkill for this one use, and also, it's not super good at it, in that it uses an obscene amount of memory and is quite slow.

There are tools specifically for astrophotography that do some of this. But they tend to be quite specialized.

There are panorama tools.

Is there something that does what I want ?
posted by Nothing to Technology (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you are interested digging deep into the pipeline, I'd start by looking at Hugin. I've only used it a little bit, and I think it's largely a front-end on to other tools, but my impression is that you can do a whole lot of the partial operations that you'd normally need to do for panorama stitching, like aligning stacks of images, doing exposure normalization, that sort of thing.

On the other hand: Obscene amounts of memory and quite slow... yeah, you're dealing with big raster images. Nature of the beast.
posted by straw at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2014

MS Live Photo Gallery will do this for photos, with minor issues. Add MS ICE for better panorama options.

Pretty quick, very easy to use.
posted by troytroy at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2014

Response by poster: A few things I found for others who might find this thread:

HDR in python

Stacking in python
posted by Nothing at 2:08 PM on December 8, 2014

GIMP, PaintShopPro, Photoshop - any image processing software that will handle the concept of "layers" will probably do what you want.

I've used ImageMagick in the past to do some related tasks on the command line.

I think that there is a whole world of pro-level compositing software out there that is used by the Hollywood VFX/CGI crowd that I know nothing about.
posted by doctor tough love at 2:09 PM on December 8, 2014

Response by poster: I should have clarified, I know any tool that can do this stuff is going to take a lot of memory, and that it won't be zippy. But it is silly that I can process 100GB of MODIS satellite rasters faster than I can stack 100 frames in Photoshop.

I'm looking for something easier to automate than working with layers. Especially for dozens or hundreds of images. I'm leaning towards hacking away with NumPy arrays at this point. But thanks for all the suggestions so far!
posted by Nothing at 2:12 PM on December 8, 2014

Have you looked at astronomy software like Astrostack and others?
posted by Sophont at 3:49 PM on December 8, 2014

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