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Action cameras like the GoPro have made it easy to capture first-person perspectives from daily adventures. But as Microsoft researcher Johannes Kopf discovered, that doesn’t always translate into watchable video.

Johannes Kopf
Johannes Kopf

Kopf, who works in the Interactive Visual Media Group at Microsoft Research, wanted to show his friends and family what it was like to go mountain climbing in the Cascades. But the footage he got from his GoPro was hours long, and monotonous to boot. He tried using standard time lapses and image stabilization tools, but wasn’t able to create a smooth result.

To solve that problem, Kopf, Richard Szeliski and Michael Cohen created Hyperlapse, a tool that takes in action video and outputs a smooth time lapse that lets people see a journey without experiencing violent camera shaking.

The tool reconstructs the path that the camera’s wearer took to shoot the footage, and then translates that into a smoothed-out path that’s easier to watch. After that, Hyperlapse stitches and blends together different frames to create a single cohesive scene. At first, the process required massive amounts of computing power, but it can now be run on a conventional PC.

Kopf and his team will be presenting their work tomorrow at the SIGGRAPH conference in Vancouver, B.C. After that, they’ll be focused on continuing to optimize Hyperlapse to minimize the number of visual artifacts and reduce the required processing power.

For even more technical details about Hyperlapse, users can find the team’s full paper (PDF) here.

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