Re: Stabilization Software

From: Brook Hinton (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jun 25 2009 - 15:44:10 PDT

Howdy Ken,

*1) What is the very best software I can use?"*
Subjective. Try what you may already have first - FCP 6's built-in, or
After Effects. But an image that is already somewhat grainy/noisy is
going to be a challenge to any stabilization process. There are other
plug-ins and applications, but I don't have enough experience on them
to give a reliable value judgement.

*2) Does stabilization software affect sharpness?*
Unless you allow it to crop the frame without blowing it back up to
full res, yes, as it has to enlarge the image sufficiently to cover
the areas out of which the frame is shifted in order to stabilize it.
With super8 to HD footage this could be significant. You could also
consider finishing in 720p instead of 1080, in which case the
enlargement artifacts will not be present (replaced, of course, by
those caused by the reduction).

*3) Should I apply it to uncompressed files, or will Apple Pro Res
422 (HQ) be sufficient? Is the latter a 'lossless' compression scheme,
or might some of the pixels have different values than the original
ones did? It's been suggested to me that mistakes caused by a codec
may be perceived as a loss in sharpness, though more likely perceived
as a increased noise (not that different from 'grain' except
potentially more distracting because it is being evenly distributed
evenly over the frame).*

If you have the resources (and time) to do this with uncompressed HD
files (e.g., an x-raid or two on a loaded 8-core system), that's
great, ProRes is not lossless but it is pretty remarkable and holds up
relatively well to a pass or two of recompression. But need to know
the format the lab is delivering
your HD in to really answer this (e.g., HDcam and DVCProHD are both
far from lossless).

*4) If applying stabilization software to uncompressed files is the
way to go, is it simple enough to make my compressed files from the
former (for editing) via Final Cut?*
Probably, but again you may be able to do this all within Final Cut.

What I would investigate before all of this is whether the lab can
apply a stabilization process for you during the transfer. I suspect
it would be of higher quality than what you'll accomplish in software.
Another option is to cut the film WITHOUT pre-stabilizing and spring
for a fancypants hardware process at a lab after the fact, but you'd
need to do some research on what's available and cost first.


Brook Hinton
film/video/audio art
studio vlog/blog:

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