I’m going to make an admission: I’m not a big fan of video. I mean who wants to sit through hours of boring footage just to get to those few exciting moments? And who can be bothered editing their video to capture just the highlights? Of course digital video, YouTube, and the proliferation of video-capable devices makes editing heaps easier these days (much easier than connecting two VHS recorders together :)). And lets face it, some things you really do need video rather than still photos. Highlight Hunter is program that attempts to automate the tedious process of finding and isolating highlights in your long hours of footage. Does it work? Find out after the break.
Highlight Hunter works in 3 stages:
- Record your footage
- Bookmark your highlights by placing something (normally your hand) over the lens for 1 sec after something significant has happened
- Run Highlight Hunter over your video and it will clip out the preceding (user definable) seconds before the bookmark.
Highlight Hunter provides a list of supported cameras, however it should work with any device that’s capable of taking video, whether it’s a POV, P&S, MILC, DSLR or phone. (Don’t you love acronyms? :)) They do state that most of the testing they’ve done is on H.264, MPEG-4, and AVC HD, so if your camera outputs in some format that’s a bit different, you may have issues.
To test the system, I took a video of my 10 minute trip to work. After I passed each traffic light, I bookmarked by getting my son to place his over the lens of the camera (safety first folks ). The video was recorded on a Swann Freestyle HD POV camera in 1080p and the final file was 935,966KB.
On an i5 Toshiba R700, the detection and saving took around 5 minutes. Time isn’t really an issue as you just hit scan and it just runs, there’s no user interaction required at all. If you needed to, you could just leave overnight.
And here’s my highlight files. Do you get the feeling they’d like you to upgrade to Premium? So Highlight Hunter found 8 highlights; however, I know that there are 5 traffic lights on the journey. Each 5 second highlight file was about 8MB in size and in Quicktime format.
So at first glance the results look pretty good. You can see where the program might be confused by the dark car in front filling the frame, and then the dark going into the carpark. Trouble is it has missed two traffic light all together. There are 5 traffic lights on the route, and Highlight Hunter has only picked up 3.
So the next thing to try was to pump up the detection level from medium to looser. This resulted in 19 highlights. This now picks up all the traffic lights plus 14 other bookmarks. It’s pretty easy though to remove the 14 false positives even for a video editing newb like me with basic Microsoft Movie Maker.
Don’t like those “discrete” watermarks on your video? $29.99 will purchase the Premium version, which not only removes the watermarks but also gives you faster scanning speeds, prioritized support and free upgrades for 1 year. Each license is tied to one PC, but by upgrading to Premium for $10 extra you can obtain usage on an additonal PC. You can see above that using Premium will also change it so that each highlight includes the time frame in which the clip appears.
Using the Premium version certainly sped up the whole detection and highlight production process. It took around 1/2 the time of the unregistered copy. There was no difference in the detection however, it still found 19 highlights. I don’t have the work process or skills to remove the hand at the end of each segment but I’m guessing that someone with a more established video editing routine could easily and quickly get rid of them.
So Highlight Hunters seems to work extremely well, though you are better to err on the side of caution and loosen up the boomarking detection so that you get more false positives and don’t miss any of your bookmarks. Changing to lower light conditions or having dark coloured objects move into your frame may also set a highlight, but these highlights are easy to remove from your final footage. I can see where this would be a useful program for all sorts of video situations: sports, concerts, kid-related activities, almost anywhere video footage can be taken.
The biggest concern I have about the whole concept is if you actually want your full footage to watch. When ever there’s a highlight, your footage will be ruined by a hand being held over the lens. So let’s say you film your child’s play and you highlight every time your child appears on stage so you can send a highlight package to the grandparents. But if you want to watch the whole play, you’ll get hands over the lens every time your child appears. Perhaps they need to develop a complementary product that removes the 1 second palm.
Will this mean I might start taking more video footage? I’m not really sure yet, only time will tell, but it certainly does assist in reducing the time and effort required to edit your videos.