I just had my mind blown by a demo from Adobe at NAB. Their soon to be launched Creative Suite 5.5 includes After Effects CS 5.5 with a new plug-in called “Warp Stablizer”. It’s designed to perform complex 3D image stablisation in a way that hasn’t been seen before in a video effects package accessible to mere mortals. It’s designed specifically to fix the rolling shutter problem inherent in DSLR footage, but it also has the ability to turn most hand-held shots into somthing resembling a steadycam. Before going any further, check out this video of the Warp Stablizer in action:
So how does it work? To quote Arthur C. Clarke,
“Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic”. It sure seems like magic to me, although I am going to make some purely speculative guesses solely based on the video above. The tracking points seem to be added in areas near contrast edges. The actual location of the point is possibly derived from the distance from several of these contrast edges, and their change in position from prior and future frames. While we’re seeing tracking points, what may be calculated are tracking ‘blobs’ with the centre point marked. As stated, copious amounts of frame blending are used in order to smooth out movement. I’m pretty sure it’s only blending areas of the frame where needed, otherwise different areas of the frame with different warp characteristics would not be able to be corrected.
We’ve seen hints of this technology before in other Adobe applications. Specifically, I see bits of this in the extensive warping tools now available in Photoshop, as well as the automatic lens distortion correction in Lightroom. The Warp Stablizer is the logical next generation of these tools. The CS5.5 suite should be out in June. I’m looking forward to testing this with real-world video.
[Update]: I originally wrote this during NAB. As it turns out, Adobe released CS5.5 yesterday (5/3/11)!
Earlier: Final Cut Pro X: The NLE Reborn