Good news for extreme sports fans: Microsoft has figured out how to make high-speed video watchable, without making the watcher woozy. If you’ve ever watched a 15-minute recording of someone climbing a mountain or riding a bike down a rocky path with a head-mounted camera, you also know these videos can get kind of boring at times. It’s possible to condense the action into a time-lapse video, but this only highlights all the erratic bumps and shakes in the recording, and it isn’t very pleasant to watch. Microsoft Research’s technology, dubbed “Hyperlapse,” aims to solve both of these problems by creating a condensed time-lapse video that looks as smooth as the original recording.
There’s barely a mountain biker, climber, skydiver or skier left who doesn’t have a GoProcamera attached to his helmet. Nobody really wants to sit through an hour of video of you heading up and down the slopes, however. You could just speed those videos up, but then they become completely unwatchable. Thanks to a new Microsoft Research project, however, you may soon be able to turn those long boring first-person videos into really smooth hyperlapse sequences that run at 10x the speed of the original video but don’t make you want to throw up because of the camera shake. Developed by Johannes Kopf, Michael Cohen and Richard Szeliski, the new project — which the team says could soon become available as a Windows app — takes your typical first-person video and then runs it through its algorithms to construct a new, smoother camera path. This is much more than just some fancy version of the warp stabilizer you may be familiar with from other video editing tools, however. Microsoft’s project also reconstructs the scene itself by creating a depth map based on the video input. With this data, the algorithm can then stitch together an image from a viewpoint that’s slightly different from the original perspective to keep the video as smooth as possible.