Microsoft Fixed The Timelapse

Meaningful innovation is not Microsoft’s strong suit. Still, one of Microsoft’s latest research projects has done amazing things to improve one of my favorite types of video – the timelapse. The results of this little science project, are absolutely artful, and magnificent.

How They Did It

Microsoft engineers have created an algorithm for turning choppy, bumpy timelapse videos into smooth, beautiful, flowing timelapses. The new timelapses, which Microsoft calls “hyperlapses”(one of the better recent Microsoft product names), are buttery smooth, as if they had been shot with a steady-cam. It’s magical.

*Read More: Another of Microsoft’s Amazing Research Projects*

The obvious question is, how is this possible? How can shaky, messy video be turned into such a smooth, artful video. Well, Microsoft used a special algorithm for recognizing lines and paths in the video, creating a depth map – basically a map that computers can use to gain a sense of depth perception. Using that depth map, they were able to assign and manipulate the video into smooth, fluid movement, correcting shake through awareness as to how to make the movie appear fluid. At times, the prototype video looks unnatural, but most of the time it’s beautiful. This technology is an advanced form of what is known as “post-production image stabilization” – correcting crooked video by computer, after the video has been shot, instead of in the camera. For now, it’s still in development stages, but in the future, this algorithm has wide applications. Microsoft apparently has plans to use the technology for a Windows Phone app, allowing the few users of its operating system to shoot smooth, fluid timelapses. It could also have professional applications as well.

What Should Microsoft Use This Tech For?

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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