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Google’s Motion Stills app turns Live Photos into stable GIFs and movies w/ cinematic backgrounds

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Google’s latest photography app — following behind others such as Google Photos and Snapseed — stabilizes iOS Live Photos and turns them into shareable GIFs and short movie clips. The app can create still images by freezing the background of a Live Photo and makes short videos that feature sweeping cinematic pans. The free Motion Stills app comes to us from Google Research and is only available on iOS…

Using algorithms, the app creates a virtual camera path that is optimized to recast videos and bursts as if they were filmed using stabilization equipment. The end results are really nice looking GIFs and movies that have a still background or feature cinematic pans in order to remove shakiness from the original Live Photo.

A lot of work went into making the app function offline without the need for processing at a data center. The technology is based on the company’s previous work in stabilizing hundreds of millions of YouTube videos and creating automatic GIFs from bursts of pictures in Google Photos:

Our challenge was to take technology designed to run distributed in a data center and shrink it down to run even faster on your mobile phone. We achieved a 40x speedup by using techniques such as temporal subsampling, decoupling of motion parameters, and using Google Research’scustom linear solver, GLOP. We obtain further speedup and conserve storage by computing low-resolution warp textures to perform real-time GPU rendering, just like in a videogame.

The app allows users to apply the effect to any Live Photo snapped on a current-generation iPhone. Users can also tell stories by combining multiple clips into a movie montage. Additionally, Google added loop optimizations that automatically identify optimal start and end points, as well as discards blurry frames.

Motion Stills is a standalone app and does not appear to have any integration with the rest of Google Photos, although users can share and save their creations to the camera roll. The app is compatible with an iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, and iPhone SE, and you can grab it on the App Store right now for free.


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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: