Magical Mercalli

Richard Jones wrote on 9/23/2013, 6:04 AM
I recently came across a number of unedited standard 8mm reels. I had these converted professionally (via telecine) to avi to edit in Vegas 12 only to find that, although the films were of historical family interest, they had been left unedited because a serious camera fault had left them un-viewable. It looked very much as though the claw in the camera had caused a registration problem which meant that each film suffered from a huge amount of juddering and jumping.

To my delight, applying the Mercalli plug-in stabilizer solved the problem, and without any significant loss of quality. I used only the regular default settings and applied these to each event on the time line. Admittedly it was a tedious and seemingly endless process which might well have led to RSI (repetitive strain injury!) as there were over 500 such events with other FX (e.g. levels, colour curves, Frederic Baumann's exposure corrector etc.) then having to be applied to many of these.

Even on my rather out-dated machine, the rendering time of the forty minute film to MPEG2 took only three and a half hours and the eventual DVD was highly satisfactory.

I can't speak too highly about the ProDad Mercalli stabilizer. It is an excellent product that was asked to deal with an extreme problem and was able to save an otherwise impossible situation. If anyone has any doubts about purchasing this plug-in they need have no fears that they are wasting their money.

And no, I have no connection whatsoever with ProDad save as a very satisfied customer! I report this only in the hope that it might help others.



gripp wrote on 9/23/2013, 4:50 PM

Great piece of software!
Grazie wrote on 9/23/2013, 4:55 PM
I now just shoot stuff, shakily, so that I can hand it over to Merc! - Nah, just joking . .

It's a great interface with good outcomes.


Laurence wrote on 9/23/2013, 7:52 PM
Still using the previous version 2 unfortunately. Version 3 SAL still insists on adding interlace to AVCHD 30p wrapped as 60i, making it unusable with that format. It works fine on the GH3 MOV footage, but Vegas stretches the levels on that format. Oh well, at least version 2 is still usable.
dalemccl wrote on 9/23/2013, 8:03 PM
>>Admittedly it was a tedious and seemingly endless process which might well have led to RSI (repetitive strain injury!)<<

You may already know this, but I'll mention it case you don't and would have a need in the future to stabilize a large number of video clips. With Mercalli version 3.0, which operates as a stand-alone rather than a plug-in, you can avoid the tedious work of adding the plug-in to one event at a time. It has a batch mode that lets you load multiple files and stabilize them as one batch. Then you use the stabilized files in Vegas instead of the originals.

This avoids the wait time that you get with the plug-in while it does its analysis one event at a time when you add it. It also avoids the problem I often got with the plug-in where, for reasons unknown to me, Mercalli would super-impose a message over the event saying it needs to re-analyze, even though I didn't think I had made any changes to the event after the initial analysis.
NormanPCN wrote on 9/23/2013, 9:34 PM
With Mercalli version 3.0, which operates as a stand-alone rather than a plug-in, you can avoid the tedious work of adding the plug-in to one event at a time.

If you apply Merc as a Media FX you only need add it once per media file, no matter how many events you have for a given piece of media.
dalemccl wrote on 9/23/2013, 10:52 PM
>>If you apply Merc as a Media FX you only need add it once per media file, no matter how many events you have for a given piece of media.<<

Not sure I understand. I normally have one media file = one event. I'm guessing you are referring to situations where you shoot long videos and then split them into multiple events? Is that right? (Perhaps that was the OP's situation.)

My video shooting (vacation, family events, etc.) generally has short clips (5 to 15 seconds), so I have one event per media file.

Putting the Mercalli plug-in on the Media file is a good tip though for when I shoot a long videos and split them into many events, although I usually use a tripod for long shoots and don't need to stabilize.
flyingski wrote on 9/24/2013, 1:44 AM
I certainly don't claim to be an expert in dealing with 8mm celluloid film but I have captured and edited several miles of the stuff and find Mercalli to be invaluable. My work-flow is to drop the video clip, whether it's from a 50' reel or 400' reel on the timeline and add the entire FX chain I anticipate using. I then uncheck the Mercalli FX and proceed to cut the video at each scene break. This avoids the constant reminder that Mercalli needs to run again. I'll re-check Mercalli later.

Most of the old film cameras started with the aperture wide open and then closed down within a few frames to the correct exposure. This usually resulted in a severe over-exposure for the first few frames. When viewed this shows up as an annoying flash at the beginning of each scene. Depending on the ergonomics of the camera, the operator may have given the camera a “jerk” while pushing the record button to start and stop the recording. By trimming a few frames off the beginning and ending of a scene the over-exposure and flinch are eliminated. This allows me to slide the Mercalli zoom and pan controls down quite a bit and apply minimal cropping. Typically I find Glide Cam with about 12% zoom and 30% pan is sufficient for most footage. Once the entire video file is sliced and diced into scenes I go back and run Mercalli plus whatever FX is required for each scene. This is my quick and dirty method of 8mm film correction. I've never been able to apply a batch correction to a film clip without doing the scene by scene correction. If you want to move up to the graduate level of celluloid film correction I suggest you Google johnmeyer and video fred on the subject. They are the masters.
Richard Jones wrote on 9/24/2013, 4:50 AM
Glad others like Mercalli as well.

My film was split into so many events partly to overcome the exposure/shake problems mentioned by flyingski and partly because of normal editing considerations. Batch stabilization would have been enormously helpful of course but I'm using Version2 as a plug-in so I don't think this option was available to me

I've sometimes had the message about re-running Mercalli come up but that's often because I have wrongly placed the cursor and occasionally but not always because of the application of subsequent FX with a re-run always being necessary if I have changed the length of the event.

There have been a number of threads dealing with the conversion of cine film to video with John Meyer's contributions always being invaluable - as with every contribution he makes.

markymarkNY wrote on 9/24/2013, 9:34 AM
+1 on Mercalli

There are some unusual side-effects that I experience on certain clips, where objects in the video have a wobbly distortion to them. Most likely it has to do with the way the algorithm interprets certain movements.

Where you have to be careful with Mercalli is to to make sure that you render the file to exactly the same properties as the source. You can't stabilize an interlaced video and then render to progressive with deinterlace. The way I get around this is in an interlaced timeline (60i footage) I first render the selected clips with Mercalli as a 60i intermediate, then I import those rendered clips into the timeline and replace the originals. Now I can deinterlace the final render without any problems.
Arthur.S wrote on 9/29/2013, 5:32 AM
So, just to play devil's advocate here...why is the proDAD stabilizer already built into Vegas so problematical?
johnmeyer wrote on 9/29/2013, 4:55 PM
[I]why is the proDAD stabilizer already built into Vegas so problematical?[/I]Because proDAD and/or Sony left out the features needed to produce decent statbilization, except in the most trivial of cases. I view the free version that is shipped with Vegas as nothing more than a demo, incapable of being used in most real-world situation.

The settings which are missing in the free Vegas version let you control the tradeoff between zooming, borders, and artificial edge fill. Without access to these settings, and with the fixed values used in the Vegas version, you often end up with a huge amount of cropping because the plugin zooms in way too far in order to hide the black borders created by the stabilization process.

Fortunately, if you keep an eye out for promotions, you can get the real Mercalli for not too much money. I did this after getting very, very envious of the amazing stabilization that Jerry ("amendegw") kept posting. He is definitely the Mercalli guru. In his hands, Mercalli is actually beyond magic: it is pure voodoo.

musicvid10 wrote on 9/29/2013, 5:15 PM
"I view the free version that is shipped with Vegas as nothing more than a demo,"
Same goes for the $15 Mercalli Easy. Even Youtube stabilizer works better (this is worst-case footage).

I agree about Jerry's fine touch with Mercalli. Wish he'd drop in / upload more often . . .
amendegw wrote on 9/29/2013, 7:29 PM

You guys are more than kind. I appreciate the nice words - especially from two people who I respect so much.

I have more to say, but rather than hijack this thread, I'll start a new one.