Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Youtube's New Stabilization Feature and Rolling Shutters

Youtube has launched some new stabilization and 3D features and I thought the stabilized example was particularly interesting.

You can clearly see it zooms in on the image a great deal to avoid showing the frame edges as it stabilizes and produces (evident in the very beginning and near the end as well) the quite interesting problem of stabilizing video taken with a rolling shutter; specifically how the buildings are swaying back and forth a bit while everything else is mostly stable. It's fascinating that stabilization technology is now free, available to all when it was only once available to police, military and NASA which, back then, didn't have to deal with the amount of wobble and smear that modern rolling shutter cameras produce.

It effectively makes the footage look artificial or somehow doctored which for my money, is the exact opposite of what you want your real footage to look like after trying to improve it. I can imagine, in the near future, people recording  news events and whatnot and people calling foul that the footage was doctored somehow before we all get used to clips stabilized like this.

It's interesting how new technologies like this, which improve footage in one aspect, yet can cause issues in interpretation and believability overall, actually expand our "film language" once they are accepted. We as an audience have grown accustomed to shaky poorly shot footage but as technologies continue to improve and become cheaper to produce and buy, and as CPU's become more powerful, distributed and cheaper altering the footage becomes easier and hence our internal language which helps us interpret what we see continues to evolve.

I suspect there will be a flurry of people pointing at buildings seemingly swaying in a gentle breeze and crying out then, in time, the voices will subside and we'll collectively accept it as the new new thing and move on as our visual filters acclimate and block out the anomaly for us. That is, until someone uses the effect against us on false and/or doctored footage in order to give it that "real" feel of everyday stabilized rolling shutter footage.

1 comment:

Eric Forsberg said...

Nice thought about rolling shutters.Awesome post,the way you explained it is absolutely informative.


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