21 June 2009

Technology: Warm - but not fuzzy

A new technology for $50 will fix your video's pixelated, fuzzy frames.

MotionDSP Inc.'s download will help many of us faced with less-than-professional videos. The market of course also includes those who post to YouTube and other online sites.

According to this New York Times technology article, it is also great for those who shoot videos with their cellphones and other mobile devices. The program analyzes the color and position of pixels in frames that are next to the ones with poor images, adds the nearby info and improves the result.

See it in action at the MotionDSP site.

The company also makes Ikena (much more expensive, nearly $8,000) a powerful product used by law enforcement authorities to recover details from low-quality videos, like license plate numbers. We've all seen how that works on the various CIS-type forensic shows on television.

The algorithms used for the enhancement are part of a research field called super-resolution. It's used in university research labs and professional video software, but not often in consumer products.

The software can do some edit (cropping, rotating, etc.) but the main purpose is to improve the clip by fixing shaky, noisy home videos. According to the company its for any standard video, including anything transferred from VHS.

Jon Peddie, who heads Jon Peddie Research, a consulting firm in Tiburon, Calif., said specialized software like vReveal might prove popular with consumers as more of them create and post videos.

“There’s a huge potential market for products like this,” Mr. Peddie said. “If two of us are at the same soccer game, each photographing it with a cheap camera, but I do some enhancing afterward,” that video will look better and get more views.
The market may increase as video calling and conferencing become more common and mobile. And we only have to look at all that cellphone video coming out of Iran these days to see how useful it may be.

It is also being tested to clean up live streaming videos.

According to the company, “The difficulty with this kind of product is that you have to see it or use it to appreciate it.”

So the product - vReveal - will be offered as a one-month free membership, so people can compare before-and-after videos, then decide whether to purchase it.

It works with Windows XP or Vista - not Macs, sorry - and a modern graphics processing card from Nvidia will make the process go faster. Nvidia is a marketing partner with vReveal. Other graphics cards means the process will be slower.

“If you have other graphics cards, your computer will just use its central processing unit,” Dr. Varah said, but the process will be slower.

Sounds like a good idea. I have tons of stuff that was transferred to VHS and not with the best results. I think I'll try out the free deal.

See more in the article link or at the company site.

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