Video stabilization plays a crucial role in making video more watchable by decreasing shakiness and related issues. But all video stabilization is not equal. So, if you’re comparing video stabilizers for your camera in motion, how do you determine which is best for you? It may seem like comparing apples and oranges at first, but taking a closer look at what your camera will be used for is sure to shed light on this. And what if you want to use the same camera for different purposes – then you may want to change the degree of video stabilization for different use cases, even out in the field. This blog post will explore all of this so that you can learn how to determine what the best video stabilizer for you is.
The best video stabilizer for your needs
So, to find the best video stabilizer, how do you tell if video stabilization is good or bad? This is closely linked to the overall video experience. When there’s no video stabilization or video stabilization is ineffective, the video may seem too shaky. This can cause fatigue and distraction (learn more in our article on video quality). When contrasting this with effective video stabilization, the improvement in video quality is clear. However, assessing which video is better becomes far more complex when each is properly stabilized but in different ways. None of them are obviously shaky but they aren’t quite the same either. So, what do you do?
This can be like comparing apples and oranges – if you only look theoretically at the different video stabilization possibilities. A comparison is made viable by rooting it in real life practice. How will your camera in motion be used? There are many potential examples, but it helps to divide them up into information gathering and experience-based use cases. In the former, you want to gather information from the video feed as quickly and effectively as possible. In the latter, you want to create a certain type of experience for the viewer, such as excitement, engagement or some other emotion.
Information gathering video stabilization use cases
The highest order of video stabilization can be useful in some cases where you need to quickly identify details in a fast-paced environment. This could be a live bodycam feed, a surveillance camera or a law enforcement drone used around crime scenes to track persons of interest. Or it could be a drone used to inspect power lines for damage, monitor a wildfire or search for shipwreck survivors in the ocean. In such cases, the ability to spot the smallest detail in the feed as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance, and could possibly even save lives.
Experience-based video stabilization use cases
Imagine that a drone, smartphone or action camera is used on a hiking and skiing excursion in the mountains. In such case, the highest degree of stabilization might feel too rigid, like the film was shot by a robot. Still, more stabilization may be necessary on an action camera used while skiing or a drone flying around in heavy wind than on a smartphone held in your hand while you slowly and calmly walk forward on a hike. That being said, while hiking, you could easily step on uneven ground, lose your balance, or need to quickly pan to record some fascinating wildlife you hear behind you before the moment is lost.
In the examples above, different types of cameras in motion needed different degrees of video stabilization because of their different use cases. This means that a one-size-fits-all approach to video stabilization will fall flat. But it’s not just about customizing the degree of video stabilization for each different camera in motion. The same smartphone, drone or action camera is likely to be used in different situations. What if you want to use the same camera for both the hiking and skiing? What if you’re walking with a smartphone and then suddenly need to run or turn?
Why video stabilization needs to be more flexible and adaptable
To meet these needs, your camera in motion needs to be adaptable in terms of video stabilization not only before it’s used but also out in the field. Sometimes, you may also need to use the same device for both information gathering and experience-based use cases. Take the case of a law enforcement bodycam that needs to capture information in the heat of the moment and then present realistic video evidence after the fact.
As a result, next-gen video stabilization algorithms will need to be increasingly flexible and adaptable to different uses to create just the right balance of video stabilization power. Many experience-based video stabilization use cases demand that we reimagine the way we perceive video quality and create a more realistic experience that approximates a professional human cameraperson.
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