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This Free Software From Sony Could Make Gimbals Redundant

Filmmaker Mark Bone has just discovered that some free software from Sony can stabilize footage from his FX9 to the point that he’s wondering how often he will ever need to use a gimbal in the future. Check out this short video.

Bone puts the stabilization offered by Sony Catalyst Browse, Sony’s free clip management tool, up against that provided by the Warp Stabilization offered by Adobe Premiere. As Bone explains, “it’s night and day.”

While the FX9 doesn’t support in-camera stabilization, Catalyst Browse takes the metadata from the camera’s gyroscope that is embedded into every file. Catalyst Browse then recalculates the movement of the camera and creates stabilized footage than can then be exported. The processing seems to be quite rapid.

Unfortunately, before you get too excited, Catalyst Browse does not have the same functionality with footage shot on Sony hybrid cameras as they lack the same internal gyroscope. As one of the comments to Bone’s video notes: “When you hear that catalyst doesn’t stabilize a7 footage and your heart breaks.”

Watch to the end to find out why Sony might not be able to offer a simple solution for internal raw.

Have you tried using Sony Catalyst Browse? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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15 Comments
Kevin Famuyiro's picture

No snark, but what kind of content would you like to see from Youtube content creators, and what could Mark Bone be doing better? I thought the video was fine enough, but then again, I'm not really a Sony user.

nick turner's picture

Probably something at least within the realm of relatability would be a good start. Not many people would have access to an FX9, and even less would be putting it on a gimbal.

Just me's picture

If you don't mind some cropping... (and warping and no motion blur...)

William Faucher's picture

I was going to comment on this but you beat me to it. You're absolutely correct. You could always stabilize in post in Nuke, or even After effects, with great results, if you're willing to crop. I don't know about most people but I don't like cropping video unless I have to.

Tim Barlow's picture

I understand the comment about cropping (although, worth noting the cropping ratio is adjustable), but I'm confused about the warping and motion blur you mention. Can you explain? Catalyst uses gyro information from the camera to stabilise so it's faster and doesn't warp images like typical post-stabilisation, so maybe you're mistaken about that? As far as the motion blur goes, for the same reason, the shutter angle doesn't change when you stabilise?? Or am I missing something?

Just me's picture

if your camera shake only up and down, you can "easily" align with a shift.

But if your camera start to slightly look down or up, left or right; suddenly, the picture geometric is changed. So you need to adapt this with a warping by deforming the image to fit the rest of the movie; in my case horizontal. The gyro gives the information that it have been panning, so it have to create a wrap to fix this pan deformation if this was not the desired way to go.

If you shoot at high speed, there is no motion blur to care about, but if you have slower shutter speed, the blur is following the path you are creating. If I want to make it obvious; it's like a tunel of blur around your subject.
Again, If the camera goes left and right at one point, the motion blur will be not accurate to your movement and be more like a pan blur. Even with a wrap, you can't remove this.

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Chris Slagle's picture

For the relatively small cost of a gimbal, I'd much rather save time on the back end and not have to endlessly stabilize footage and deal with cropping.

Stephen Schrock's picture

not free. link takes you to a product page to find out who sells it.

William Salopek's picture

Free? The link goes to a page that says "where to buy". And please, the title is CLICK BAIT. Please refrain. But...if more cameras with gyros were supported, and if some cropping could be planned in advance (stabilizing "slight" wobbles doesn't crop much), this really could be a great solution to stabilization in certain situations. It sounds the same as "Reelsteady Go", which uses a GoPro's (v5,6,7,8) gyros to do a magnificent/quick job of stabilization.

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Kees Bouwmaker's picture

I don't know much about videography. I experiment with freeware commandline tools to convert 29.97fps NTSC to 25fps PAL with frame-interpolation and stuff. My workflow with Catalyst gyro-stabe would be something like this:
* I keep all frames as individual .png or .tiff images as much as possible to try and minimize quality-loss because of conversion
* Resolution as high as possible (4K maybe?)
- film WITH a gimbal but WITHOUT any in-camera stabe on 100fps with shutterspeed 1/200 or something like that
- stabilize the footage with Catalyst
- maybe use avidemux to export to individual .png or .tiff here (could also be done with ffmpeg or mencoder or something else probably)
- calculate how much intermediate frames I need to interpolate to go from 1/200th shutterspeed to 1/50th or 1/48th (I want to end up with 24fps footage with nice motionblur to try and have it look cinematic)
- interpolate those extra frames with Dain-app or something similar
- maybe use something like warp-stabilize additionally to make it super-ultra-mega-buttery-smooth (I don't have adobe stuff so I don't know how it works and if it gets good results or might backfire because of how it changes frames to stabilize them)
- Use Imagemagick or maybe something like ffmpeg or mencoder to use the multiple frames that exceed 25fps (so that would be some of the trailing interpolated frames and some of the unused original 100fps frames) to create motionblur by setting the opacity of those frames and combining them into one (this will need much experimenting, otherwise you end up with ghosting instead of motionblur). Goal here is to drop the "inbetween" frames exceeding 25 every second and use them to create motionblur that's representative of the 180 degrees rule for 25 or 24 fps. It might be necessary to drop frames that were at the end of every second in the original footage completely and make frames incrementally more opaque when they were more towards the end of every second (YMMV, needs experimentation to prevent ghosting)
- set the framerate of the resulting 25fps stabilized and motionblurred video to 24fps to slow it down slightly to look even more stable
- use sox commandline audiotool to slow down the audio without sounding "lower"
- maybe mux the video or png images and audio at some point with avidemux, ffmpeg or mencoder or something similar. Could also be done one timeline in Resolve or something

This is just my brainfart, I know this would take ages and is not practical and the video created is probably not "true" to videography ethics or morals or something. It's just stuff I like to do in my spare time and maybe it sparks an idea with someone else that's looking for a solution like this. I don't have the computing power to test this workflow (because you need a lot of processing power and nvidia CUDA graphics card) so I can't answer any questions regarding it.
Example commands for all the tools can be found online just by googling them. Dain-app can be downloaded and used for free although it looks like you have to buy it when you look at the website; just read on and you will see that it's actually free and you can download and use it without any cost. Dain-app NEEDS a CUDA capable graphics card and won't work without it. And it needs loads and loads of memory on that card.

Hope someone finds this interesting! Cheers.