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Bike-cam 3000 and my video editing woes

June 10, 2008

I built a handlebar mount for my digital camera the other day. The idea was to make some time-lapse movies of long rides and/or of community rides like the Critical Mass and the Courteous Mass (yes, two different rides on two different Fridays every month).

My first attempt at a camera mount sucked pretty bad. It was one of those Gorilla-pods wrapped around my seat post and seat stay so that the camera pointed backwards. What ended up happening though is that the bumping around on the road caused the camera to slowly point downwards toward my rear wheel and as a result I have hundreds of stills of my back wheel and some pavement. This is not very interesting.

My second attempt involved modifying a reflector bracket. I saw someone doing this in a HOWTO on Instructables. It turned out that somehow I had all the parts I needed at home, including the 1/4-20 bolt scavenged from an unused tripod, so it was easy to put together.

The new mount works great, except for the shaking. When I’m on the road every little bump in the pavement translates into a big bump on camera. So this is where my video editing woe comes in. I thought that it would be easy to run the video clip through some software to “stabilize” the image. IT turns out that this isn’t as easy as I’d like, or as free as I’d like.

First, in iMovie ’08 which came with my mac there is no such image stabilization feature (nor is there a feature to speed up or slow down a clip, which is ridiculous). Also, Apple, in all their wisdom, decided to remove the capability to run 3rd party plugins. Why on earth would they do that?

So after downloading iMovie HD (came with iLife ’06, outdated indeed) from the Apple website (for free, which is nice) and loading the “piStabilizer” plugin (which is not free, but you can use the demo version if you don’t mind a nice big “DEMO” watermark on your footage) I got my footage stabilized and sped up (because iMovie HD **DOES** have the slow-down/speed-up video effect that iMovie ’08 lacks).

You can see it below (again, with a huge DEMO watermark which sucks).

Link to YouTube

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