Apple's iPhone 4 can serve as a great little camcorder when you're in a bind, but it's never been our go-to cam for video shoots. Not only is its small sensor not best suited for high-quality HD shooting, but the smartphone form factor can be awkward to hold, resulting in shakier than normal footage. A new app called DollyCam, which also supports iPad 2, helps soften the blow of the latter, letting you successfully stabilize videos -- with a few drawbacks.
We took our iPhone 4 out to test a watermarked free version of the app in New York City, shooting a scene first with the phone's native app, and then with DollyCam. It won't replace a hardware solution like the Steadicam Smoothee, but it's significantly cheaper and more convenient. The only major issues we noticed were related to softened sound capture of all things (pay close attention in the video past the break), and the fact that the app can't process in real-time, so a minute-long video clip will need about five minutes to process. The app does crop your footage slightly, as can be expected. You'll also need to remain in the app as it's processing, though you can also stabilize videos later, after completing your shoot. Overall, it's an acceptable solution, especially considering the $2.99 price tag. Jump past the break to see original and stabilized clips, and browse through the gallery below for a quick look at the interface.
DollyCam video stabilization for iPhone 4 hands-onSee all photos
"DollyCam is the best software for automagic video stabilization"
August 3, Linkoping, Sweden. Scientists at Linkoping University in Sweden recently launched DollyCam for iPhone and iPad. The app is based on patent pending technology that automatically stabilizes video captured with CMOS video cameras, such as found in new mobile phones, and tablet devices. The result is astonishing and lets amateurs create professional movies without expensive equipment.
Anyone who has tried to capture video with a mobile phone knows how easily the result becomes shaky and wobbly, with skewed objects and an overall amateurish feeling. The poor result is caused by the rolling-shutter technology used in low-end consumer cameras, and by the fact that you hold the camera in your hand. Professional filmmakers use global-shutter cameras, rails and dollys for smooth camera movements.
DollyCam is based on leading research in computer vision. The unique algorithm uses three-dimensional data from the gyroscope and accelerometer sensors on the iOS device to correct tilted objects and remove wobble. A video stabilizer then adds smoothness and makes the movie stable. DollyCam is also adaptive and adjusts its parameters dynam- ically to the movie processed. The scientists have conducted a blind user study among students on campus. The study demonstrated that participants preferred DollyCam output to that of its competitors.
"With this app you get a professional and smooth video from a cheap consumer camera", says Per-Erik Forss ́en, assistant professor at Linkoping University who presented the underlying algorithm at the international IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in San Francisco 2010.
The scientists recently founded the company FR Vision AB, with support from the Innovation Office at the University. DollyCam is their first product, but the company also intends to disseminate the technique as professional products for video editing pack- ages like Adobe After Effects and Apple Final Cut, as well as application programming interfaces that allow integration in other products.
"Our vision is to integrate our technology in hardware from big players like Apple, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung, to let a bigger audience experience better movies", says Erik Ringaby, doctoral student at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Link ̈oping University. "We also hope service providers like Google and Facebook will be interested in licensing our technology."