Duke University computer engineers have designed algorithms capable of sharpening video blurred by a shaky camera. Newly integrated into Adobe’s After Effects video editing software, the solution is bringing relief to tripod-less videographers everywhere.

“When I came to Duke, I wanted to try to find a different solution to a classic problem,” said Mauricio Delbracio, the former Duke postdoc who worked on the project with Guillermo Sapiro, the Edmund T. Pratt, Jr. School Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke. “I eventually landed on video blur because no simple algorithm existed to tackle this very important problem.”

Part of the reason for Delbracio’s choice was that other algorithms created to address blurriness did not work very well. The standard approach tried to figure out what caused the image degradation and then invert it.

“We showed mathematically that this process is a waste of time because it doesn’t really help you solve the actual problem,” said Sapiro. “Thanks to Mauricio’s brilliance and lots of discussion, we found a new way to look at the problem.”

Sapiro and Delbracio used the very shaking that caused the blur in the first place to find a shortcut for removing it. Because videos take many in rapid succession, the duo decided to try to use the surrounding frames to sharpen the problematic image. And because a shaky hand causes random movements, each frame is degraded differently.