A video enhancement tool that will amaze you

But good look getting hold of it.

Is there a distracting traffic sign in the middle of your video, or maybe something in the background that needs to be removed? I spotted a software application that can do that--and more--and I promise, you'll be amazed.

The video I watched was produced by a group of researchers from the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science and Engineering. These guys are in the Graphics and Imaging Laboratory and they have a truly astounding process that lets you combine low resolution still images into high resolution video.

The software merges the images and video, and at the same time, fixes the inconsistencies between the two. For instance, they show how, within the video, to remove a traffic sign or touch up a tree.

Watch these two videos to see how it works. The first is "Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene." The second is "Interactive Video Cutout." You can also read the group's technical white paper, "Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene."

Pravin Bhat, one of the authors of the software project, gave me the bad news.

"We are currently busy working on other research projects and don't have the time to put in the engineering effort required to turn our research project into a product [or] usable demo.

"Ideally a product team in the industry would carry the torch from here on. The implementation details of the project have been published in an academic journal, which people can access freely from the project Web site.

"We have also released our source code on the project website. The Blender 3D folks are looking at incorporating it into their next open source release.

"All our work is part of academic research. It is not patented. It's really anyone's for the taking but it will require considerable skill to turn it into an usable product from its current state; the research demo is slow, memory inefficient and not user friendly (there's no UI; everything is controlled with command-line tools)."

Okay, so it's not an easy-to-use program--it's not even available. But my guess is that some smart entrepreneur could do something with it.

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Steve Bass

PC World (US online)

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