You may enjoy watching the hours of footage you recorded the last time you went skiing, but your friends are too polite to tell you how boring it actually is. So instead of spending days editing your adventures down to a short highlight reel, Microsoft has just introduced a new app called Hyperlapse that can automatically turn long, shaky videos into short, steady time lapse clips.
Oddly enough, the app shares a name with Instagram’s own Hyperlapse app, which does something similar—but Microsoft’s, which was first teased last year, employs some seriously neat tricks. Now available for Android, Windows Mobile devices, and Windows-based PCs (there’s no word on an iOS version), Hyperlapse doesn’t just speed up a long piece of footage. That process usually involves dropping a specific number of frames and can actually serve to make jerky footage even more unbearable to watch.
Hyperlapse instead processes your footage using intelligent software technologies and algorithms to stabilize and smooth out the results. So when you’re shooting a clip you intend to turn into a time lapse (which can be up to 20 minutes long on all Android devices and most Windows phones) you don’t have to worry about keeping your camera rock-steady while recording.
The difference between just speeding up footage and processing it with Microsoft’s Hyperlapse software is especially noticeable in this side-by-side comparison. The footage on the left makes you want to vomit, while the footage on the right makes you feel like you’re riding the world’s smoothest roller coaster.
To generate that smooth stabilised footage, the researchers at Microsoft’s Computational Photography Group (which created Hyperlapse) actually use a couple of image processing tricks. The software first generates a rough 3D model of the landscape featured in the footage, and then uses that model to figure out the path the camera took through it. There will of course be slight deviations to that estimated path when a camera gets bumped or jostled, so Hyperlapse uses another trick to smooth out those hiccups.
In the mobile version of the app, instead of speeding up the footage by only keeping every tenth frame (for example) Hyperlapse only preserves frames that appear to visually follow the camera’s estimated path through the landscape. By removing wild card frames with sudden jerks or movements, the sped-up footage ends up being automatically smoothed and stabilised. As a result, the faster you decide to speed up your video, up to 32X, the more watchable the results will be.
And to keep the action in the time lapse smooth and constant, similar frames that represent a pause in motion (like your car being stopped at a red light) are also automatically removed during processing to ensure your final time lapse is all killer, and no filler.
The pro version of Hyperlapse that’s available for Windows PCs as a free demo (which watermarks your time lapses) actually goes one step further using video stabilisation techniques to actually resize and reposition frames to help further smooth out the results. But the added processing power needed to do that quickly unfortunately means that feature won’t be hitting your smartphone anytime soon.
Both the mobile and desktop versions of Hyperlapse allow you to import your own footage, so you don’t necessarily have to capture video with the intent of creating an easy-to-share time lapse version. Which means the years and years-worth of vacation videos you’ve been digitally hoarding can finally be made a little easier to share with friends and family—in shorter, smoother form. [Microsoft Blog]