This week LizardTech has rolled out the next-generation of their powerful image editing and manipulation tools in GeoExpress 6. I had the pleasure of getting a first-hand look at this latest solution, courtesy of Carlos Domingo, company President & CEO, and Jon Skiffington, GeoExpress product manager. Read on for a look at the new features available to users of this powerful image editing and manipulation tool.
What is GeoExpress?
GeoExpress is a suite of powerful image editing tools for such tasks as color balancing, image reprojection, cropping, area of interest encoding and much more… GeoExpress does much more than just compression of imagery! In addition to the existing suite of image manipulation and editing tools that users of release 5 are familiar with, version 6 adds some much requested functionality including; support for color balancing, advanced area of interest (AOI) encoding, choice of MrSID image compression or JPEG 2000 image compression formats, and flexible licensing, making the product affordable and likely desirable to many new users.
GeoExpress is not a full-blown image analysis solution, nor does it claim to be. However, it is a very powerful, easy to use, useful tool providing users with an affordable and handy suite of commonly used image editing and manipulation tools. Think of the application as a bundled suite of the most commonly required image manipulation functionality, all conveniently packaged in an easy-to-use application suite.
A look at some of the “key” new functionality provided by GeoExpress 6:
- Choice of lossless or lossy MrSID or JPEG g2000 image formats
- Pre-defined image encoding profiles for JPEG 2000 and ensure compliance with government requirements
- A hot new feature in 6.0 is color balancing (recall NAIP format) imagery required to be color balanced. At 6.0 this enables users to get imagery into GeoExpress sooner.
- Users have choice of having image stored in MrSID or JPEG 2000
- Support for government and industry standards, like NPJE/EPJE and NITF 2.1
- Powerful image compression (ratios between 2:1 and 50:1)
- Numerous pre-defined profiles for various federal agencies have been included.
- Floating license
In a demonstration, Skiffington showed us just how simple the application is to use. He quickly loaded several images (TIF), stitched them together, updated image tiles with new imagery preparing the data for optimization or cropping.
– The resulting imagery was then easily output as MrSID 2, MrSID 3, JPEG 2000, or NITF1 (optional)
– He demonstrated how simple and fast one can load TIF images, color balance, change intensity, alter color bands individually (rgb) brightness, contrast adjustments… then match all tiles to the once source tile’s same settings… apply corrections… very simple!
The demo then moved along smoothly as Skiffington showed off several example scenarios, manipulating large, commonly used imagery (TIFs), showing off some of the most highly anticipated functions that users of release 6.0 will be eager to test. The following are some key points noted during tasks that users will be most interested in:
Image – color balance
New at version 6, support for color balancing
– auto or manual balancing of imagery
– correct tonal imbalances
– color balancing enables users to correct tonal imbalances and is easily accomplished using a heads-up utility. Simply select a tile, adjust the tonal settings, brightness, and contrast then adjust adjacent tiles to match each other.
Color-balancing is a snap using the automatic correction method
– reproject from one of 2000 pre-defined coordinate systems
– at 6.0 users can define and save custom coordinate systems
– easily define, save, and share custom coordinate systems (e.g.… load TIF as NAD83 UTM zone 10, select lat/long WGS84)
– save out as MrSID then load in ArcMap… no problemo
Image reprojection dialog box – once parameters are set it’s very simple to reproject all image files to a common projection
Area of interest encoding (AOI) – was added at 5.0
– Specify different encoding ratios within an image or mosaic, maintain high resolution areas of interest while degrading detail outside of the AOI… obscure detail to remove sensitive information.
– New… use standard vector overlays such as a SHP file to define an area of interest (e.g. drop in a polygon to outline a sensitive area of interest such as an airport, military facility, public stadium, etc…)
– Optionally, sensitive areas can be removed totally, made black, white, etc…
– DOD contractors will find this very useful -supports SHP, MIF TAB, and GML overlays as vector inputs
Using the AOI encoding, sensitive information can be easily obscured
– mosaic any combination of supported input images into one mosaic.. any combination of image format types, and projections
New – Oracle integration
Store MrSID imagery natively in Oracle spatial 10gR2
– Access MrSID imagery directly from your oracle database using any GeoRaster enabled application.
– Save 95% of storage space for raster imagery in your DB
– Store raster and vector data in a common db – reduce maintenance, common repository, save time and money
So, how much?
New at 6.0… floating licenses – perhaps the most common feature request! This was quite impressive as it really makes sense and makes the solution very affordable, regardless of the size of the users’ company.
– flexible token-based licensing
– save time and money when deploying and activating software
– lets all users access the image not just a single machine that has the software
– Install on all machines, runs only on number of current licenses that have been purchased.
This new pricing will prove to be attractive to smaller companies. Recall the days when you had to wait for a machine to be vacated so you could access the application you need… argh!!! Now users can install GeoExpress on all workstations and if 5 licenses have been purchased, 5 concurrent users can access the application from the workstation of choice. Reseller partners can accommodate service requests but Lizardtech doesn’t do much service work (see lizardtech.com for details). Finally, in a very friendly move, the company has nothing to hide as far as pricing is concerned. According to the company, GeoExpress 6 unlimited (includes the tools suite and unlimited image compression functionality) starts at a suggested price of $7,900, GeoExpress Standard Edition (includes the tools suite as well as an allotment for image compression) retails at a suggested cost of $2,900, and GeoExpress Tools Edition (low cost, powerful edit-only application where image compression is not required) at a suggested cost of $1,500.
My take… GeoExpress 6 delivers a cost-effective solution that provides an extremely useful package of the most commonly needed tasks required of users of geospatial imagery. A stand-alone solution, I have no hesitation in saying that GeoExpress 6 will enable you to quickly, easily, and efficiently edit and distribute your large, raster datasets and imagery.
For more info see http://www.lizardtech.com/products/geo/