How to use Super Cubic
For a quick introduction, check out the video below. For a more in-depth explanation, read the tutorial under the video.
Extracting your panorama
First some info on my setup. I shoot my panoramas using a Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens on a full frame Canon camera. I only shoot three angles, using the click-lock on my Atome pano head to get an accurate 120 degree separation. The images are shot in RAW, then processed in Adobe Camera Raw to remove aberration and vignetting. I then convert these photos into a 360 panorama using PTGui. This is what's known as a single-row panorama, because the camera did not shoot anything straight above or straight below.
The image below show a typical panorama from my setup. If you look closely at the top and bottom, you can see there is a missing black area that the camera didn't cover. A portion of the bottom is also covered by the tripod head. Super Cubic was designed to help you fix these two areas.
Step 1: Flattening the top and bottom
With the panorama loaded into Photoshop, the first thing to do is to duplicate the pano image onto a new layer. We will work on a copy of the image, and not do anything that could degrade our original panorama. As you see in the screenshot below, I have named the duplicate layer accordingly.
With this duplicate layer selected, go to the filter menu and select the '1: SuperCubic...' filter from the 'SuperRune Filters' category. To make the workflow easier, I have numbered the plugins. So the "1:" plugin is the one you run first, followed by the "2:".
Above you see the filter preview window. There are a couple of options inside the window that you should play around with. In this example we are extracting the top and bottom, but you can also extract the front/back and the sides. There are also settings for the projection angle and for spinning/rotating the projection itself. You can also change the interpolation type if you want, but I recommend you stick with the default interpolation. Hold down shift while you move the sliders, and you can see the preview update as you make adjustments. We will go with the defaults for now, press the 'Reset' button to make sure you are using the default settings.
Click 'OK' and the filter will start working.
Here's the result of the filter, with the zenith (top) and nadir (bottom) of your panorama nicely mapped out for you. We will do our retouching on a new layer, so create a blank layer over the duplicate layer. This will be our paint layer, and as you see I have named it 'Paint Layer' for clarity.
Step 2: Fixing the holes
Now use all your Photoshop magic and trickery to cover the holes in your panorama. If you had time on location and photographed the top and bottom, you can even copy portions of those photos and paste them into your paint layer. But in this example, painting works just fine.
I tend to use the clone and healing brush tools to edit my panoramas. Remember to set the clone tool to 'Sample All Layers' from the options at the top of the screen.
Above is the result of my Photoshop work. For the floor part, I used a clone brush to remove the tripod legs, and then I wiped away the center piece of the tripod with a healing brush. For the roof, I just used the eyedropper to pick a surrounding colour and simply painted away the offending hole.
Step 3: Apply the fix to the pano
Now we will take our paint layer and convert it back to the original panorama mapping. If you have several paint layers, remember to merge them into a single layer. Make sure the paint layer is selected, and select the '2: SuperCubic Reverse...' filter from the 'Superrune Filters' category.
There are a couple of options here as well. These options are the same as the previous conversion, and the filter will start by loading your previous settings. Please note that if these settings don't match the previous conversion, the remapped layer won't match your panorama. There is also a blend slider here to fade out your painted layer. Again, we'll leave everything as it is.
Press OK, and the top and bottom is converted back to their original spherical mapping.
Now hide or delete the duplicate layer, you don't need it anymore. If you swith the paint layer on and off, you can see the areas where you have retouched the panorama. And if you look carefully, only areas where you have painted will be updated - the rest is unchanged. By using this workflow, most of the original panorama is kept, and you don't degrade your pixels by converting back and forth. Do some final edits and retouches if you want, and as a final step you should merge all the layers into a single image.
That's it, you are done! Next panorama, please!