Friday, December 19, 2014

How Hyperlapse is changing the way we capture videos

So what is the difference between a Hyperlapse and a Time Lapse video? Aren't they the same? Well not exactly. Hyperlapse often means taking a time lapse while moving the camera about while Time Lapse is captured by an fixed camera, often with a tripod.

In Aug 2014, Microsoft's Research division in Redmond, Washington published a paper detailing a method for turning shaky first-person camera footage into a stabilized hyperlapse video. This didn't require the user to learn any new techniques and only requires you to be steady enough to hold the camera in one orientation instead of changing it around between landscape and portrait mode.

Microsoft's method for Hyperlapse is more technical in nature as it requires computational rendering during post production and this is where it becomes complicated. You can take any moving time lapse footage and process it into Hyperlapse video as long as you have the necessary software. Then came Instagram's announcement, which sort of blew Microsoft's version out of the water.

Instagram's Mobile HyperLapse

Facebook owned Instagram has a different take on the whole Hyperlapse phenomena. It does not use the same methods to process video as Microsoft does. Instead, it offers offline processing in the form of a cropped video image. Making use of the gyroscope to detect movement using a clever algorithm to identify movement with the corresponding frame to ensure that the camera shake is minimized or totally negated.

What you get in the end is silky smooth video movements without the jarring effect often encountered with normal video capture.

What is impressive is that this same technique used to process video frames has come to a mobile device. Presently, Instagram's Hyperlapse is only available on iOS devices and probably on Android in the near future.

There is no reason why it should not be on the Google Android camera app as we speak but it is more a matter of having the algorithms to focus on and identify objects in frame to keep them within focus.

Pros and Cons of Computational Video Processing

By now everyone would be familiar with the benefits. Smoother video, shake free, and all you have to do is to adjust the processing speed by frame to speed up or slow down to normal speed. If you want the video to appear normally with out a time lapse element, then select the 1x processing option after you have completed shooting your video. Speeding it up is relatively easy but you have to pick one that works best for you.

  • 1-15 seconds: move slider to 1x
  • 16-30 seconds: move slider to 2x
  • 31-60 seconds: move slider to 4x
  • 61-90 seconds: move slider to 6x
  • 91-120 seconds: move slider to 8x
  • 121-150 seconds: move slider to 10x
  • 151-180 seconds: move slider to 12x
The down side of Hyperlapse is that it needs good lighting to capture any video. If you are shooting in low light or night situations, Hyperlapse won't work. Even indoor videos have to be sufficiently lighted to see any good results.

Hyperlapse Settings

Four quick taps with four fingers. If you are missing a digit, you may have to call for help to access the settings menu. These taps should be done in quick succession upon the launch of the app. Once done, you will see the following menu.

I would advise you against changing the 720p settings as this is the optimum method for capture. Making it 1020p means you won't be seeing much stabilization as it uses the maximum video capture resolution possible on the iPhone.

In extreme mode, you have up to 40x time lapse capability while the lab's functions allows you to control the audio quality. These customization is relatively easy to understand but how you would want to use it depends on your chosen frame rate. Either way, the Hyperlapse app can be a battery hog when running for long periods and your device may heat up considerably. The way around this is to avoid making toast with your iDevice is to shoot in short burst, sort of like handling a machine gun. Shooting for long intervals is not recommended.

Future of Digital Video Stabilization

Having explored the usefulness of this app, I must say that this is a fantastic app for making short videos for Instagram or Vine. I highly recommend this for daylight shooting. Android users may have to wait a while before this finally rolls out.

Stabilization for Hyperlapse from Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.


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