Combining optical and digital stabilization: this is how Pixel 2’s video recording works


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Google has set the bar very high with its new generation of Pixel phones, and one of the elements that leave you in such a great position is, without a doubt, your photographic equipment. Far from dual cameras, the Pixel 2 is a phone that has achieved the highest ratings in photographic matter, passing in front of rivals the size of the iPhone X.

We can not deny that the results of the Pixel 2 camera are impressive in both photo and video, and precisely video is one of the points that has improved considerably since the previous model, specifically the stabilization system, which was a of the most mentioned problems in the original Pixel, now he adds points to what they say is the mobile camera of the moment.

Merging technologies

As we said, the previous model of Pixel had a digital stabilization system (EIS) that although it responded correctly when we held the phone in a fixed manner, behaved erratically as soon as we moved, as the system tended to stabilize the movement as if it were vibrations.

Google promised to fix it, but it seems that that has directly translated into a ‘fix it in the next model‘. In this way, the new generation of Pixel comes again with this EIS system, but combined with an optical stabilization system (OIS). The merger of both technologies results in a Fused Video Stabilization system, which Google has explained how it works and why it offers better results than its competitors.

In this sample video we can see that the clip on the left has been recorded without any of the activated stabilization systems, while the one on the right has double stabilization with EIS and OIS merging. Optical hardware stabilization (OIS) helps to stabilize without loss of image resolution, and at the same time, the electronic stabilization system reduces the excess vibrations that the OIS has not been able to stabilize, to further strengthen the taking.

In this way we do not have the detection problems that we found in the first Pixel, because what the electronic stabilization system does now is to improve what the OIS does in a “physical” way, so that we no longer run into those detections of erratic movements and yes with improved stabilization twice.

In addition, the electronic system compares the position data of the OIS with the position data of the phone’s built-in gyroscope, to balance them and further stabilize the video while recording. While all the phones in the market choose between Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) or Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), Google Pixel 2 is the only one that combines both methods at the same time.

The algorithm that is anticipated

In addition to the combination of both systems, Google uses in its EIS something like an “anticipated” algorithm capable of making predictions thanks to automatic learning, and that is able to guess where the phone could move next, allowing correct movements better and faster (even in such annoying and common effects as the rolling shutter that we can see in the previous video).

This method of algorithms is also capable of introducing virtual movements to counteract and disguise very strong variations in the sharpness of the recording, such as when we move the phone too abruptly.

It is not perfect but it is (for now) the best

Is this stabilization system perfect? No, and it is likely that even the EIS fails at times with its predictions, but there is no doubt that the combination of both stabilization systems, plus the implementation of artificial intelligence, is a combo that opens the way to a new way of seeing the recording of video on the mobile and that very probably, we begin to see in the next high-end terminals.

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