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VidSync News

Quick update to 1.63

Jason Neuswanger Saturday March 12, 2016

In the few days after making 1.60 public, I made some improvements that were worth putting out as a new version quickly. Here's what's new in 1.63:

  • I improved the distortion correction algorithm substantially by (1) adding four more high-order radial and one higher-order tangential term term to the underlying model, which especially helps with extremely wide fisheye lenses but slightly improves accuracy across the board, and (2) improved the cost function and numerical minimization algorithm that find the distortion parameters. The previous distortion correction was already pretty good, so there's no rush to redo previous analyses, but there should be some slight improvements to accuracy, especially in highly distorted footage.
  • Added diagnostics for the distortion model, and a page on this wiki describing the model and the meaning of the diagnostics, which are visible just below the distortion model parameters in the VidSync interface.
  • Added the ability to select whether to see all distortion lines on the screen (while on the distortion tab) or just the ones on the current timecode. This makes it manageable to gather plumblines from multiple different frames in the same video and maximize input to the distortion model. This is rarely if ever necessary, but it's good to have the option.
  • Added an automatic calculation of "distance to the nearest camera" for all 3-D points, which shows up in the points list on the measurement tab as well as in the spreadsheet and XML data exports.
  • Added buttons to reset just the front face or back face of the calibration frame, not just both at once. This makes it possible to correct user mistakes during calibration (such as accidentally clicking on a bunch of the wrong points) by redoing the face that was messed up, without having to redo both of them.
  • Added a "tally" button to the measurement interface that pops up a running list of the number of events for each type under a given object (for example showing the number of length measurements and foraging maneuvers for a particular fish, etc). 
  • Fixed a bug in the distortion correction display that was causing the final, straightened lines to always appear perfectly straight. Previously, it was actually just showing a straight line between the endpoints of each corrected plumbline. Now it shows both the actual corrected plumbline and a striaght line between the endpoints as a reference to indicate how much distortion remains. 
  • Updated the entire project to use the same permissive, open-source license (the MIT license) instead of a hodgepodge of outdated default copyright notices.

 

Updated to version 1.60

Jason Neuswanger Wednesday March 9, 2016

Version 1.60 of VidSync is now available. It fixes several minor glitches that came up in the last 1-2 versions of OS X. The new version 1.60 works well in El Capitan.

Several new features and minor bug fixes have been added since 1.55:

  • Added "instant replay" buttons to the advanced playback controls. The one for the standard playback rate goes backward 2 seconds, plays forward 2 second, and stops. You can customize the behavior for both advanced playback rate controls. These are great for re-watching animal behaviors you want to see a few times over to properly interpret.
  • All the different "play" buttons for various rates now work like "pause" buttons while the video is playing, so you can click once to start, again to stop. They don't all change to show the pause icon while playing (that would be visually annoying), but they work that way.
  • Added the ability to automatically show speeds on connecting lines, in addition to distances. These speeds are also included in spreadsheet copy/paste exports.
  • Added a "Current observer" box on the Project tab. The observer is then recorded along with all measurements and annotations, which makes it possible to figure out of two people working on the same analysis might be interpreting things differently.
  • Added the ability to mute sound on each video individually and have this setting remembered for each project individually.
  • Added 27 new measurement overlay icons for event types, based on FontAwesome.
  • Added help buttons in several parts of the program that link directly to the relevant pages in this online user guide.
  • Added a button to sort the events list on the measurement tab chronologically based on the timecode of their earliest point.
  • The "Direct OpenCV output window" option from the automatic plumbline detection interface has been replaced by something better. Now, the detected chessboard corners all show up as yellow dots on the main video windows during this stage instead.
  • In configuring event types, you can now use length label multipliers < 1. For example, if your calibration units are in millimeters, you can use a multiplier of 0.1 to display measured lengths on the screen in centimeters.
  • Reorganized and enhanced the XML output. This includes adding project notes and all Annotations to the XML files. Instead of the object and videoclip elements being nested inside an "objects" element, the top-level element is now "project" (with some attributes including project description and name), under which are "objects" (containing only objects and their children, such as events) and "videoClips" (containing only videoClips and their children, such as annotations or calibration information). This means the XML files now contain pretty much any information from a VidSync file that you could possibly want to access. However, if you wrote code previously to import VidSync's XML output into R or some other environment, you might (depending on your specific code) have to make some small, easy modifications for compatibility with the new and improved exports.
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused new portraits to overwrite old ones.
  • Fixed a bug that showed back face world residuals being way higher than they actually were.
  • Fixed many other minor glitches.

 

Minor update with Version 1.55

Jason Neuswanger Monday March 2, 2015

A new version of VidSync (1.55) is available with several minor bug fixes and user interface inhancements. The main changes since 1.5 include:

  • Added shortcut keys for regular advanced playback rates 1 and 2 (described in the tooltips for their buttons).
  • Fixed some bugs that prevented effective use of VidSync for 2-D calibrations (for people not trying to take 3-D measurements but wanting to record observations in terms of a 2-D grid).
  • Added the ability for annotations to include a running timer from the point the annotation was started (useful for having a "Begin analysis" annotation at a certain point in your video and being able to see how much time has elapsed since that point).
  • Made speed improvements so that files containing thousands of measurements should have playback just as responsive as files containing a few measurements.
  • Adjusted the color of the synced playback scrubber to show up well in Yosemite, since Apple inverted the colors of their sliders in the upgrade from Mavericks.

 

What's new in VidSync 1.5

Jason Neuswanger Monday March 3, 2014

VidSync 1.5 is a major upgrade. It's faster, more stable, and better-looking, and it adds some useful new controls. The underlying math, import/export formats, and general processes for doing things are the same, although a few buttons have moved around. The new version is backward-compatible with previously saved VidSync Document (.vsd) and auxiliary files.

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later. Mavericks is a free upgrade and highly recommended. However, users restricted to older, 32-bit Macs can still download the old version of VidSync compatible with OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

Major features:

  • The video playback controls have been revamped. Unsynchronized videos are controlled like any other video in Apple's Quicktime Player. When two or more videos are synchronized, a new control bar opens up with more intuitive and easy-to-read buttons for all the advanced playback contols from the old version and a few new ones.
  • You can now snap "portraits" of objects and view them later within VidSync, either individually or as a list of portraits of all the objects in the project. For example, I save portraits of the juvenile Chinook salmon I'm analyzing, and when a fish swims off-screen and comes back I check its parr markings against its portrait to make sure it's the same fish.
  • VidSync can now be used for 2-D measurements, using a single grid of points for calibration. These will naturally be less accurate than 3-D measurements from multiple cameras, but Vidsync lets you make them as good as they can get by tapping into the same distortion correction and linear transformation algorithms used for its 3-D measurements.

Major behind-the-scenes changes:

  • VidSync now uses Objective-C automatic reference counting (ARC) for memory management, which greatly reduces the potential for program crashes. This huge change to the code is only visible to users as improved stability and performance.
  • VidSync now uses AVFoundation instead of QTKit to handle video playback, image capture, and exporting. (In other words, it has moved from using outdated Quicktime 7 to modern Quicktime X behind-the-scenes.) This fixes several bugs with exporting, and makes videos start/stop and play more smoothly. However, some old video files are no longer compatible with VidSync without a conversion. The rule remains that VidSync can play any file Quicktime Player can play on the same computer, but Quicktime became much more picky about video codecs in Mavericks. If your files don't work with VidSync anymore, you can convert them to a modern codec (.mov and .mp4 files using the H264 codec work well) using either Quicktime Player or a batch video converter such as Wondershare or Final Cut Compressor.

Minor features:

  • The visual markers for video overlays all have very subtle, non-offset drop shadows now. These make it much easier to see light-colored text and markers against light parts of a video. 
  • You can copy an annotation from one video onto all the others using the new "Mirror Selected Annotation" button.
  • Advanced step controls allow choice of units, stepping by frames, minutes, or seconds.
  • There are shortcut keys for play-while-pressed at the regular rate and both advanced playback rates.
  • The program uses the masterclip's native timescale for all timecodes recorded. It used to sometimes switch to strange intermediate numbers.
  • There are now more warnings/verifications to make it harder to accidentally mis-click and delete something you don't want to.
  • Video overlays and the master time display now update live while the play-while-pressed buttons are in use.
  • You can now optionally seed the automatic plumbline detection algorithm with the first two starting points it needs, which makes it easier to find good settings to read your grid.

There are hundreds of other small improvements and bug fixes.

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