April 22, 2007

Creative misuse of Photoshop layer alignment

By now we’ve probably talked your ear off about the useful things enabled by Photoshop’s layer alignment code–snapping together two or more layers, making it easy to blend group photos, for example; stitching together complex panoramas; and making crisper HDR merges.

After attending NAB this week, however, Photoshop engineer Mike Clifton came up with a crafty (and, to be honest, not "as-designed") use for the Auto-Align Layers command: stabilizing a chunk of video.  First, he shot some deliberately horrible footage out the window on our floor.  He then used Photoshop’s new Import Frames as Layers command* to turn the video frames into Photoshop layers.  Lastly, he selected all the frames and chose Edit->Auto-Align, telling Photoshop to line them all up.  To our surprise, the results are not half bad: check ’em out here (before, after, and cropped).

Now, to be clear, I wouldn’t sell Photoshop as a video stabilization tool, as tools like After Effects are already capable in that regard.  That said, half the fun of building this stuff is in seeing the clever ways people will deploy it, and this strikes me as one of ’em.

*Brought over from ImageReady, actually, but new to Photoshop.

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