Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Fix Portrait Video Recording Problem

Smartphones have become the most popular video recording devices, being always a few instants away from recording anything we're seeing. However, they've also become the cause for one of the most dreaded phenomena in video history: the portrait video recording. There's no way around it - no matter how much you may feel like "it won't look that bad"... it certainly will. When you play back video recorded in portrait (vertical) orientation on your computer screen or big screen TV, you'll be treated to a very narrow slice of video surrounded by gigantic black borders. It's terrible to the point that apps like YouTube even alert you not to do so and block the portrait video recording behind a configuration setting.

But today I'll be giving away the solution to the portrait video problem. A solution that would certainly be patentable, but that I'm offering for free.

For it to work the only requirement is for the camera sensor vertical resolution to be greater than 1920 pixels. Which, considering that most smartphones come with 5MP, 8MP, and higher resolution cameras, won't be a problem.

Take a 5MP camera sensor, for instante, with 2592x1944 pixels - barely enough for my technique to work.

The trick would be for the video to be recorded in a small subset window of the sensor, that would keep the horizontal aspect ratio even though the sensor was vertically aligned. Technically this wouldn't be a problem, as most CMOS sensors allow you to easily define a "Region of Interest"  (RoI) area, that is the one that is sent out to be processed. This technique would even allow for the usual digital stabilization, with the recording region being adjusted to compensate for camera shake, etc.

Considering it's often more comfortable to hold a smartphone vertically with a single hand, than it is to hold it horizontally (requiring two hands), this would certainly be a awesome feature - that would cost next to nothing to implement.

So, if you're a big brand or manufacturer and wish to use this technique, go ahead. Just be sure to send me some of the first devices using it as a token of appreciation and good will. :)

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