Wednesday, June 3, 2009

World's Edge Stabilize

So after running into a friend and colleague, it was suggested that I stabilize the footage and re-track it. I've now done that and added more terrain. The stabilize is good, but far from perfect. I'll have to revisit that.

The reason I don't like stabilizing footage and camera tracking is purely a technical one. Artistically, it can look much better because any shaky hands can be smoothed out. The down side is twofold:

One, it can look pan-and-scan-esque if the stabilization is very large where you're reintroducing a move into something that's static or conversely, stabilizing something that's moving.

Two, by sliding the footage around, you're essentially "lying" to your camera tracking software. When you film something, your footage has a center of interest which is the center of your footage. If you stabilize that and shift the footage around, you're forcing your camera tracking software to move the camera all over the place, either rotationally or positionally, all in the name of "stable" 2d footage.

Thirdly (I know, I said two reasons), when you stabilize, if your footage has motion blur and you’re telling that footage, "no, actually I want you to be still," you'll have a perfectly smooth piece of footage that suddenly has weird blur going in different directions. A good example of this is that VFX shot in Gladiator where the tiger is leaping at Russel Crowe. I'm positive that the motion of the tiger was shot strangely and the motion blur that it had was unremovable and therefore it looks very strange when compared with the motion blur that he has.

If any of you readers have any comments on how it's progressing, I'd be interested to hear them. I'm not 100% sold on the composition of the land, but I do hope to finish that aspect in the next week so that I can start playing around in Mudbox and detailing them up.


  1. Hey Matt,

    For what it's worth, here's my $.02 :)

    I'm not sure you need so much of a run up along the ground at the beginning, unless there's going to be something happening there. Maybe there could be some critter running across the screen or something... Maybe a crack developing in the ground as the camera pans over it. Either way, if you reduced the amount of distance the camera travels by half, I think that would slow it down, and make the transition from the synthetic camera to the moving one a little more seamless.

    Since the shot is about the dude looking out into the distance, maybe you don't need the runup at all, and it could start right on his feet.

    My other thought, is that I think there's almost too much bobble back and forth in the re-introduced camera move. It almost makes you a little sea sick. :) Since there's going to be such a cool environment out there, it would be nice to have that be the focus of the shot... Maybe you could totally stabilize the footage, and place it on a card, then the camera can slowly dolly forward, past the guy, so in the end end we're just looking at the environment?

    Just some ideas :) Feel free to take em or leave em :)

  2. Cool! Thanks Kert. The long run up at the beginning is because I was going to have ground detail, rocks, cracks, grass, etc. The camera would be starting pretty close to the ground. You're right though, it could be a bit shorter.

    I think overall it could be shorter. Right now we're at 719 frames. It'd be nice to keep it to less than 600.

    As for the motion at the end, I think you're right. I'll minimize it. I do like the part where Tom looks left and the camera has the delayed following to see what he's seeing. Once I restabilize and track I'll post a new version.

    Let me know if anything else comes up. Thanks for the input!