3D Video image stabilization

When shooting 3D video using two cameras, we turn off all in camera stabilization features. This makes hand held video look shaky, unfortunately, as all the little hand movements remain in the original clips. Consequently, we have to shoot most 3D on a tripod.

I just did a test, though, using my Canon Vixia HF M301 video cameras. I use two of them to shoot stereoscopic 3D. The HF M301 has three stabilization options: off, standard and dynamic. For my tests, I shot a scene using standard stabilization and another scene using dynamic. Then I paired the left and right tracks in Magix Movie Edit, output to a WMV 3D anaglyph file and watched the test video.

For general hand held shots without rapid camera movements, the in camera stabilization tracked well between both cameras. However, rapid camera movements caused different stabilization effects in each camera and the 3D goes bonkers as one goes left and the other goes right!

Bottom line: for simple handheld shots without a lot of movement, the in camera stabilization works okay and eliminates the handheld jerkiness.

Ideally, it would be nice if we could stabilize the 3D images after editing but there is not an easy way to do that.

Most video editing software today has image stabilization capabilities. Image stabilization analyzes the video for jerky movements and then corrects by shifting the video around to minimize the jerky movements. Since this tends to leave black bars at the top, bottom or sides, the video is also enlarged slightly to fill in the black bars left by shifting the video.

When it comes to 3D video, there does not seem to be a great solution. Sony Movie Edit Platinum 11 disables the stabilization feature on paired 3D clips. Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus can stabilize individual clips before pairing – but there is not a good way to match the stabilization between the left and right tracks. You can stabilize one, copy the effects track and paste it to the 2nd track, but this has not produced the expected result of matching stabilization.

I suppose we could created our 3D track, output to a video file, import that file as a single clip that may as well be 2D as far as the editor is concerned, and then apply stabilization. Not sure I want to go through two more transcodes though!

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