Think you've seen the internet's best video of Curiosity descending to the surface of Mars? Think again. Featured above is likely the world's first "true motion-flow" version of Curiosity's touchdown, and it is nothing short of remarkable. Trust us — you need to see this.
It's been over a month since Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet. And in that time, video editors have been busy. A couple weeks ago, we introduced you to the work of Dominic Muller, who used an editing technique known as "interpolation" to transform the choppy footage of the rover's descent (originally captured at just four frames-per-second) into a much smoother, 25-fps version. But now, Muller has been one-upped in a big way.
Through an even more exhaustive interpolation process, redditor Bard Canning has spent four weeks creating what is easily the most impressive Mars Curiosity descent video yet, manually adding thousands of motion-tracking and adjustment points to boost the frame rate to a buttery-smooth 30 fps.
"My version uses true motion-flow interpolation at 30fps," explained Canning in an email to io9. "To my knowledge, I am the first person in the world to use utilize this method for this footage." But he didn't stop there.
Using pan and scan techniques, Canning says he actually upgraded the footage to enterprise-quality 50,000kbps 1080p resolution, enhanced colors and detail throughout the landing sequence, and even included practical sound effects — which, while not originally recorded by the spacecraft during its descent, adds to the viewing experience considerably.
The end result is a landing video that somehow manages to be even more impressive than Muller's. As Canning explains:
If you compare the two, ours are very different. My video uses motion-interpolation which makes for more realistic motion. It just takes far longer to do, which is why my video is posted a couple of weeks later. Of course, his is beautiful as well. That's the great thing about public-domain media - is that we all can join in and remix and create wonderful new things with the footage.
Like Muller, Canning has included a video featuring a side-by-side comparison between the original footage, as shot by Curiosity's MARDI camer, and the new, interpolated footage. The difference, as you can clearly see, is staggering:
So hats off to Bard Canning for going above and beyond an already impressive show of video-editing prowess on the part of Muller. He tells io9 that the entire process, which took 29 days, "has been a labor of love," and that he's "keen to expose it to as wide an audience as possible," but welcomes your support in the form of a donation (through Paypal or Bitcoin) or by "just saying thanks!" Let's show him some love, folks. This is damn impressive work.