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Stabilization in Post


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#1 Michael Wilson

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 08:55 PM

Are their any standard practices for stablilizing a steadicam shot in post? Like pan and scan or matchmoving to stabilize a shot that might have some unwanted movement. Errors, bumps etc.

Or does the editor just live with the shot bumps and all?

thanks for your 2 cents
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#2 RobVanGelder

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 11:09 PM

Standard practices?....... Like apologizing to the producer and director as they have to pay more to the post house to make the shot usable..... ;) And maybe not charging for your work....?

That's why operators should review their work on set, when there is still time and possibilities to make another take. And if that is not possible, discuss with the director and producer the consequences.
That might be painful, sometimes, but this work has a lot of responsibilities, so deal with that.
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#3 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 11:17 PM

"Or does the editor just live with the shot bumps and all?"

Don't worry Michael - nine out of ten times the editor won't even notice the bumps and put in your worst take!
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#4 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 12:45 AM

Coming from a career in post production, I can tell you that the answer is...
It depends. There's a lot of factors.
In high end HD where the format is shot on 1080 i or p, (In other words, Sony land) it's very difficult to stabilize the image in post without it being noticeable. I had the best shit available to me, all Autodesk stuff, hundreds of thousands in hardware... Doesn't help much. When you're stabilizing an image in post, you're essentially zooming in on the image to varying degrees. The loss in resolution becomes almost instantly noticeable, along with a slight jittery artifact effect. With a digitized film scan, you can get away with a lot more... The grain in the image helps with covering the jittery effect, and if the image was scanned at a much higher resolution than the output format, you've got a lot more resolution to work with... But it is still noticeable after a certain point, especially if the post zoom factor varies from scene to scene. The same holds true for the 4K video cameras... You've got a lot to work with if you shot at 4K and are down res-ing to say, 1080p, that's clearly a much larger window to zoom in on... But again, just as with the others, there is a point at which you can do no more stabilizing. The incredibly sharp image leads to very little to no room for error, even though the resolution is much higher. If you manipulate the image in any way, you're kind of playing with fire. Personally, if it was left up to me, I never stabilized a shot unless I was specifically instructed to do so, or the shot was just really bad, and I had to try to do something to save it... I just didn't like the artifacting left by the process. Dv video by the way, is the easiest to hide the stabilize effect...
So yeah... Don't f_ it up. Many times, the shitty shot has to be used for many reasons, unless it's terrible. A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, freely admits that if he blew part the shot, he'll intentionally ruin it completely. From an editor's standpoint, I'd much rather you do that, to be honest... At least a re-take is pretty much guaranteed. If you do/say nothing, well, were I still the editor, I may have to use the shitty take.
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#5 Charles Papert

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:36 AM

At one time or another every operator has been boned by a bad take making it into the final product. Of course there are any number of reasons for it, generally the director and/or editor determining that performance takes priority over the camera move, if they even notice it. Certainly we see a lot of really soft closeups in movies for just this reason (my favorite is when the shot alternates between soft and sharp each time it cuts back and forth, where two different takes are used).

I still die a horrible death whenever I see the opening credits to "Big Love", where I had to do a crane step-off onto ice and it took me a few takes to gain confidence that I wasn't going to wipe out on dismount (Stabilicers notwithstanding). Unfortunately one of the early takes was used and there's a noticeable wobble. The first words out of the director's mouth next time I worked with him was "Sorry man"--he knew!
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#6 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 12:36 PM

if they even notice it.

Oh, they notice it, I assure you... It's just a "Flow" thing. The vast majority of the time when you see something like that, the choice came down to what was less noticeable, or jarring, to take the viewer out of the moment... a jiggle in a shot, or the performance of those in front of the camera... The lesser of two evils, if you will, is typically the result. There are other reasons, most of them dealing with money. It sucks ass sometimes when the decisions are far more difficult... Twice now, I've had to remove an actor entirely from a project... I had to just cut them out completely. The first time was like 12 years ago, I think... I still feel just as terrible today as then. But the characters they played just didn't work. Fortunately, the parts were small, but it still sucks
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#7 Jay Ryde

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 08:40 AM

Are their any standard practices for stablilizing a steadicam shot in post? Like pan and scan or matchmoving to stabilize a shot that might have some unwanted movement. Errors, bumps etc.

Or does the editor just live with the shot bumps and all?

thanks for your 2 cents


i saw the demo video in FinalCut User.. I’m very impressed with the results though I do wonder how the software would deal with vertical camera shifts as opposed to just walking in a straight line as shown in the video.

I didn’t see the name of the software mentioned.. is it available yet? Anyone know about it?

source: http://www.finalcutu...-stabilization/
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#8 Ken Niernberg

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 10:26 AM

Jay,


Much like sydney I to have done my share of stabilization in Shake, Combustion, and After Effects, I'm well aware of what goes into stabilizing a shot. The program you linked looks as if to solve the biggest problem of warping (mind you the resolution thing is still a problem 1 out of 2 ain't bad).

The problem generally occurs when you track two points in a handheld or shot moving in many directions i.e. a steadicam. Once stabilized if you look closely at the edges you can see some warping and "bend" in the image. I just forwarded the link you posted to a visual effects and compositing friend of mine. I'll let you know what he thinks as soon as i hear from him.

From the looks of things it seems as though these guys have figured the problem out.

The main thing when stabilizing shots is making sure you have at least two points within the frame that are visible the entire time, otherwise you get into multiple paths and that gets tricky. I'm sure sydney and anyone else familiar with this process can agree that getting into multiple tracks when tracking a shot can sometimes be a bit more time consuming.
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#9 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 11:01 AM

Jay,


The main thing when stabilizing shots is making sure you have at least two points within the frame that are visible the entire time, otherwise you get into multiple paths and that gets tricky. I'm sure sydney and anyone else familiar with this process can agree that getting into multiple tracks when tracking a shot can sometimes be a bit more time consuming.

Autodesk uses perspective and warp correction on their higher end systems such as Smoke and Fire as an option for stabilizing, as well as the "Normal" method. It came from the world of 3D and is used for tracking a shot, (Basically the opposite of stabilizing) and is typically a 5 point setup. The traditional method however, is much quicker.
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#10 Ken Niernberg

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 11:07 AM

yeah haven't worked on the bigger systems so i was stuck with the software based solutions. good to know.
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#11 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 11:27 AM

yeah haven't worked on the bigger systems so i was stuck with the software based solutions. good to know.

What a Smoke or Flame system does differently from say, Combustion, since they're from the same company, is they always work in a 3D environment no matter what, with some additional properties. The image you see is nothing more than a three dimensional grid made up of vertices. Put simply, a 3D environment in Combustion or After Effects might be a flat piece of paper sliding around on a desk, and you can look at it from all different perspectives, 360 degrees in any direction. The difference with a Smoke or Flame is not only can you look at the flat piece of paper from any perspective, but it becomes like a handkerchief, and is malleable like a piece of fabric, foldable, crumpled, effected by wind, gravity, etc. Which is why I mentioned it here... The ability to de-warp, if you will, has been an option for over a decade, but I haven't really seen an incredibly noticeable difference when applied to stabilization in post... Their method is different from Autodesk, and if it's useful, I wouldn't be surprised if a company as big as that one would snatch them up to either incorporate the idea, or make it go away...
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#12 Jay Ryde

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 04:03 AM

As Ive understood it: I think the idea they have used "perceptual plausibility" is great idea and it appears to work. By moving a 'warping' image they create an artificial "alternative view" of the otherwise single sourced shot. Then using "a cloud" of trackers they are able to imitate a direction and path for the camera. Genius!

However, I did see some trade-offs in the demo, wobbly areas in the corners of some of the images and slight motion in one or two of the vertices, but notice these were only at the extremities of the image. I take my hat off to these guys.. well done!

Learning to use this software would mean (like steadicam of course), learning how to shoot to use this method. i.e. shooting wide and allowing for “garbage areas” around the frame to be discarded, much like one would use a “garbage matte” in Apple Motion, if you see what I mean?!!

Just image what one could do with only a handheld shot! not to mention the sheer convenience of not having the even think about using and carrying around a SteadiCam!!! What about all the unemployed SteadiCam ops??... we’d all have to be Post Production people instead (though most of you probably are anyway?!) heheheh Just a thought!

PS: However, nothing looks better than carrying a camera on a SteadiCam.. (of course that’s important ;-) ) I often feel like one of those assault guys on Aliens 2 when they go into the Aliens Nest and start blasting the enemy with their Steadicam guns (apparently based on the SteadiCam idea so I’ve heard?!)

Edited by Jay Ryde, 03 July 2009 - 04:04 AM.

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