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YouTube effects: Shake it like an Instagram picture

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YouTube (s GOOG) users can now apply a number of Instagram-like effects to their videos, giving them a cartoonish or Lomo-like look with the click of a button. The effects are part of a new editing feature that also includes cropping and advanced image stabilization.

Taking the shaking out of video uploads should go a long way towards making some of the amateur footage captured on mobile phones more watchable, but it can also be resource-intensive — which is why Google’s engineers invented an entirely new approach toward image stabilization.

The new editing functionality will be part of YouTube’s video page, where a new “Edit video” button will offer access to filters and other editing functionality. This type of post-processing is separate from YouTube’s video editor, which allows to produce new videos based on existing clips.

The goal of the new features was to create a less complicated approach for “quick fixes,” said YouTube Product Manager Jason Toff during a phone conversation this week. Toff said users will especially benefit from quick access to image stabilization. Check out a video highlighting the new features below:

Videos can be edited after uploading, and users can also add effects and stabilization to videos they’ve uploaded months or even years ago. The only constraint is that YouTube only allows edits to videos with less than a thousand views. Toff explained that the site wanted to prevent content makers from confusing viewers by editing videos that have already become very popular.

Edited videos will be available under the same video ID, but users can also chose to save a new copy in case they want to preserve the original video. YouTube’s edits are non-destructive, so you can always revert back to the original version — at least as long as your video stays under 1000 views.

YouTube’s image stabilization algorithms were developed as part of a Google research project with the goal of reaching cinematic stabilization levels without overloading Google’s data centers. The team behind the technology published a paper about it earlier this year, in which they explained that traditional stabilization methods only tend to remove quick jerks, but not the slower motion introduced by someone walking while filming.

Newer approaches try to compute the way the camera should have moved without those shakes and jitters through elaborate 3-D models, but that would have meant too much processing to be practical for the billions of videos on YouTube’s servers. That’s why the team came up with a different approach, which it also details in this video:

It’s admittedly pretty technical stuff, which is why Toff summed it up the following way:

“For any video you shoot on the mobile phone, it makes a huge difference.”

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