Digital Magic vs. The Jitter Bug

On Removing the "Shakes" from Video Imagery of the 23 November 2003 TSE from QF 2901

Glenn Schneider, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona


23 November 2003 Total Solar  Eclipse

Raw Video Acquired by: Jay Friedland
Digital Image Processing and Composition by: Glenn Schneider

Post-Composition Spatial Filtering
Click HERE for an explaination of process.

and now... for the rest of the story...


On the QF 2901 Antarctic eclipse flight many people recorded totality with hand-held video cameras with relatively high optical magnifications resulting in "the shakes" of varying levels of degree.  The "shakes" cause both intra-frame image smear, and inter-frame image displacement (loss of registration).  As an example, here are a couple of frames from a representative 15 second segment of a Digital Video (30 Hz frame rate) taken by Jay Friedland (one of my collaborators on our TSE 2003 imaging program):

To get a better, dynamic, feeling of this, it really is best to VIEW THE RAW VIDEO SEGMENT.  It's 53 Mbytes, which is why it is just a 15 second extract, but this should be seen to set the context for the rest of this discussion . If it doesn't display in your web browser then download the file and view it with a stand-alone QuickTime viewer.  Get a QuickTime viewer from Apple if you don't have one, even Windoze folks.

Every once an a while, though, an individual frame is steady enough so that in isolation it is quite usable.  Such as this one:

Before going on, a slight digression.  If the lunar disk seems flattened in the above images, it is, but it is an artifact.  Jay had rendered this for Digital Video display, so it appears "squashed" here.  Not an issue, but thought I should mention it before someone asked.  We can deal with that later.


What one really wants to do, first, is isolate the "good" frames, noting exactly where in temporal sequence they occur.  The selected frames can then be used in down-stream processing to make composite images, or re-create a time-correlated video without the shakes.  The problem is that the "good" frames are comparatively few and far between.  Video is recorded at 30 frames per second, so for a 2 minute and 30 second eclipse that would be a lot of frames to pick through and extract one-by-one.  So, an automated algorithm for Good Frame Extraction (GFE) would be extremely helpful.  Here, I describe the one I had decided upon and implemented, and you can decide how well (or poorly) it works.


As a matter of practicality, I find it easiest to work with an image sequence, where each frame is a separate file.  This is easily done in QuickTime, as exportation of an input movie, with frame by frame output as a monotonic sequence of individual image files (as TIFF, JPEG, PICT, etc.), is accomplished at the push of a button.  From here on, when I discuss the algorithmic processing of the video images, I am actually talking about working through a stack of time-ordered (at 30 Hz rate) individual image files.

First, one needs to decide what the criterion is to consider a frame "good", and that is wholly subjective.  Clearly, to declare a frame good it must be "sharp", and the image scene of interest (i.e., the full extent of the corona) should not be cut off by the edge of the frame.  But how do you quantify sharpness?  Fortunately, for THIS application, the lunar limb, seen in silhouette against the bright inner corona, provides a natural high-contrast gradient edge on the close-order spatial scale of about a pixel.  "Sharpness" can be defined in terms of the steepness of the radial intensity gradients at the limb crossing.  Clearly, this will depend upon the intrinsic brightness of the inner corona, and also the direction of image smear.  In image space this could be assessed on the azimuthal average (or median), though this would first require an edge-location and/or image centroid procedure.  This could be done, but for images which are smeared this is a difficult problem.  I first tried this via cross-correlation against an "expected" two dimensional edge profile.  That worked most of the time, but this approach was not immune from degeneracies. I am not saying that if pursued more diligently that might not work, but I adopted what I feel is a simpler and more objective approach.

As another matter of practicality, quantitative image processing (which I summarize below) is not actually done simultaneously on polychromatic multi-plane images (at least not by me).  So each image was actually first color separated into Red, Green, and Blue component images, as separate files.  (Working Note: the original conversion of the DV to an image sequence was into TIFF format, where R, G, and B information were reformatted into separate files in IDL).

All images were Fourier transformed (two dimensionally) and 2D (U/V plane) power spectral images were created (also in IDL).   The coherent near pixel-scale sharp limb (i.e., in an image without the shakes) gives rise to a very significant (large amplitude) and distinctive high frequency power peak in the power spectrum.  There are also some large amplitude low frequency components, but those are due to the large scale structure of the corona and were ignored (by high pass filtering of the spectra) (Working Note:  Also, the image frame boundaries were spatially extended, then apodized with a Gaussian edge profile to suppress high frequency ringing.) To identify, quantitatively, what in the Fourier power domain this signature looked like,  I picked out a few, what I judged to be, very sharp images.  This in itself is somewhat subjective, but the eye/brain system makes a pretty good image processor - but I wouldn't want to do that for many thousands of frames.  I then averaged their power spectra and used that as a "training spectrum" against which all others were compared.  (Working Note: This comparison was done only on the "green" images, which offered the highest signal-to-noise without any image saturation.),  In doing the comparison I parametrized a "good" fit as having its primary high frequency power peak (and its first two harmonics) within +/- X% of the frequency of that in the training spectrum, and (once identified)  normalized amplitudes within +/- Y%.


X and Y, above were determined empirically (more subjectivity), and empirically by re-running the above GFE procedure.  With X and/or Y small, only a very small number of frames were selected.  Those which were, were very sharp when examined, but were few.  If X and/or Y are more generously broad then more frames are selected, but at the expense of decreasing sharpness.  In the end, WITH THESE DATA, I compromised on X = 20% and Y = 5%.  I believe the fairly small intensity filter for Y works only because every fame was exposed identically (and there are no worries about differential non-linearities or significant saturation effects in this particular set of images).

So... what did I get from the 900 input frames in this 15 second piece of Jay's video? Thirty-six (36) "good" frames by the above metric and selection criterion.  The equivalence to the same number of frames in a 35mm roll of film is PURELY a coincidence!   HONEST! And, what was selected?  The R, G, B images of the selected frames were recombined into color images, and are shown below (in reduced size).  When you look at that, you really should again view the input video, and scan through that frame-by-frame.  See if you agree.  Then think about doing that (and the marking and extraction) manually for the 4500 frames from Contact II to contact III.

Here are the selected frames (in a reduced size gallery).

Click on the gallery image itself to see that at 2x the in-line image size.

Or, you can see the "full size" images (rendered as JPEG for web viewing).

The file names identify the order of the frames (F01, F02...) but also indicate how many frames (1/30th second per frame) were REJECTED before the next sequentially selected frame  (you should see some of the rejections [please do] - I'm sure Jay's dancing for joy was responsible for some of that jitter).  This information (the timing, not Jay's dancing) is important in order to maintain the absolute chronology of the selected image sequence.


Upon detailed inspection of the full size images, you will note that some are sharper than others.  And, of course, the selected images are located all over the field-of-view.  These selected images were edge-padded (with black), stacked, and registered.  The green color separated images were used to determine the differential offsets, and those same determined offsets applied to the corresponding R and B frames. The registration was done in IDL, using IDP3* as follows:

* All quantitative image processing was performed using IDP3 (an IDL based image analysis package developed by the NICMOS IDT for processing Hubble Space Telescope imaging data) and algorithms also developed and tested in with TRANSFORM (a quantitative image data visualization application under NoeSYS by RSI, a Kodak company) and APL X for Macintosh (MicroAPL Ltd, UK).  subsequent image compositing and rendering was done with Adobe Photoshop 7.0.  Did I say it's all on a Mac?  I didn't?  It is.

 a) The images were geometrically corrected for the elongated DV aspect ratio to circularize the lunar disk.  Geometrical correction was accomplished by resampling the images via bi-cubic interpolation apodized by an apodizing sync function on a rectangular pixel grid.

 b) Images were also sub-pixel shifted by bi-cubic sinc function apodized interpolation, to a common position actually (a) and (b) in one step to minimize interpolation errors.

 c) Initially, image F01 was shifted (as described in B) to the center of the output field of view.

 d) Registration was accomplished by sequentially differencing images and minimizing the subtraction residuals in the corona at a zonal radius from 1.05 R(sun) to 1.2 R(sun).  This provided a near optimum region, in terms of S/N for difference minimized registration.  Note: Registration was NOT done to the lunar disk, as it was moving across the Sun.

Note: At this point I had not corrected for image ROTATION, which is apparent at the level of about a degree or two, differentially, through the image stack over timescsales of many seconds.  This effected the efficacy of the image registration.  However, the residual image blurring (which resembles defocus) had the most pronounced effect on the precision of the image registration.

So... Here are the REGISTERED selected images:

Click on the gallery image itself to see that at 2x the in-line image size.

Or, you can see the "full size" images (rendered as JPEG for web viewing).

This image sequence is also assembled as a QUICKTIME MOVIE (23 Mbytes).  This movie is NOT at the real-time frame cadence of the "good" input frames, but is presented at a fixed rate of 2 frames per second.  This allows for easy comparative scanning through the images.

The inter-frame gaps can be, instead, interpolated and filled to produce a smooth real-time movie.  I haven't done that yet, but it is on the list.


A number of the individual images, however, while selected to allow the construction of a video are, subjectively, still a bit too soft due to residual image motion to be used optimally in an image combination. So,  the GFE algorithm was re-run with a bit more stringent selection criteria in frequency and amplitude and 11 images were rejected previously selected were rejected.  The frames then selected correspond to images numbers 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 08, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33 from the above gallery.  The stacks of corresponding R, G and B images were median collapsed, and color combined - linearly - to produce the image at the top of the page.

The component images, however have small ROTATIONAL mis-alignments, so are being taken out out, by the same sequential difference minimization process as the transitional offsets., even as I write this and should (I think) produce more structural detail in the corona.  I will also do weighted radial median filtering with those images to better sample the full dynamic range captured by the final stack of images.  This (and other) images are in work, so check back in a few days.

I *JUST* saw an email from Jay F. (hi, Jay) informing me that he has electronically transferred the rest of the video segments.  Eventually ALL will be processed in the manner discussed here, or perhaps with better ideas as they may evolve over time.  Stay tuned.

-Glenn Schneider-