Incredible Microsoft research turns your shaky GoPro footage into a sleek, stylish hyperlapse adventure
posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 7:44 PM EDT
There are times when words can do technology justice, and times when it fails to come close. Some new technology from researchers at Microsoft falls into the latter camp, so we'll keep this brief and get straight to the video.
In a nutshell, what Microsoft's team have done is to solve the problem of first-person camera footage. Although there are clearly exceptions like Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner's free-fall jump from the edge of space two years ago, a lot of outdoor action -- while impressive -- isn't gripping enough to hold your attention from start to finish. Speed it up, though, and first-person footage typically turns into a shaky mess -- especially if the camera is mounted on a helmet, continuously turning from side to side.
Microsoft's technique, shown in the video above, is twofold. First, it analyzes the footage to determine path and direction of the camera throughout the clip, and determines an ideal path that couples a minimum of shake with being able to use the maximum from any given video frame. Then data is interpolated to fill in the missing areas by looking at other frames -- and interestingly, the algorithm can combine information from many frames of the source video to create each single frame of output video.
The hyperlapse effect created by the research team's software is breathtaking, even if it's occasionally a little glitchy -- especially with nearby subjects. (It reminds us of the effect when Google's Street View transitions from one position to an adjacent one, although to a much lesser degree.) Even when the glitches happen, they don't pull you out of the moment too much, and you have an incredible sensation that you're sailing through the experience at high speed.
So far, the algorithms underlying this technology are at the research phase, and there are no plans for a specific product release. We can't wait to get our hands on this, though, and we're sure we're not alone! Here's hoping Microsoft can turn this into a consumer-friendly final product, post-haste!