Remember the first time you experienced Night Sight on the Pixel 3? It was like someone flipped a switch, turning your low-light photos into vibrant, detail-rich masterpieces. Fast forward five years, and capturing moments in the dark has become commonplace, thanks to the widespread adoption of night mode across various smartphones. But what about videos? That’s a whole different ball game.
Enter the Google Pixel 8 Pro and its groundbreaking feature: Video Boost with Night Sight. Launched this fall, it promised to elevate your video quality by employing the power of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s like Night Sight for videos, aiming to bring out more details and enhance colors, especially in those challenging low-light scenarios. But here’s the twist – the magic happens not on your phone but in the cloud, on Google’s servers.
So, how does it work? First and foremost, you need a Pixel 8 Pro – the regular Pixel 8 won’t cut it, though Google hasn’t spilled the beans on why. Once you have the right device, you simply toggle on Video Boost in your camera settings and start recording. After you’ve captured your video masterpiece, it needs to be backed up to your Google Photos account – either automatically or manually. Then, the waiting game begins. Video Boost can handle clips up to ten minutes long, but brace yourself – even a short video might take hours to process.
The aim of Video Boost is clear – to make your Pixel phone a video-producing powerhouse, offering higher quality, better lighting, richer colors, and more details, irrespective of the lighting conditions. However, the primary focus is on enhancing low-light videos, which presents a unique challenge for smartphone cameras.
Isaac Reynolds, the group product manager at Google, likens Video Boost to Night Sight Video, explaining that the tweaks and improvements are all geared towards achieving the brilliance of Night Sight. It’s a fascinating journey into the complexities of smartphone videography, where even tried-and-true processes like stabilization and tone mapping hit roadblocks in very low light.
Reynolds delves into the intricacies, pointing out that Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) can stabilize a frame but only up to a certain length. In low-light video, longer frames are required, posing a challenge for stabilization. Walking in low light with extended frames introduces a specific kind of blur that OIS struggles to compensate for – a truly complicated feat.
Also, read some of our other articles about other famous people you might like:
- GTA 6 Hacker Sentenced to Life: What Led to the Digital Crime Spree?
- Say Goodbye to Nearby Share: Google’s Quick Share Takes Center Stage
Now, let’s talk about the real-world experience with Video Boost. In well-lit conditions, the difference might not be earth-shattering. Colors may pop a bit more, but it might not be enough to make you a regular user. However, in extremely low light, Video Boost does manage to salvage some color and detail that would be lost in a standard video clip. Yet, it doesn’t quite reach the jaw-dropping impact that Night Sight had on photos in similar conditions.
However, there’s a sweet spot – that magical space between well-lit and extremely low-light scenarios – where Video Boost shines. Take, for example, a clip of a dusk stroll down a path into a dark pergola housing the Kobe Bell. Here, the improvement in shadow detail and stabilization post-Boost is noticeable. It’s in these in-between situations, like regular indoor lighting, where Video Boost truly comes into its own. Watching standard videos in such conditions might leave them looking washed out, but Video Boost resurrects the vibrancy you didn’t even realize was missing.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of Video Boost’s technicalities. Limited to the Pixel 8 Pro’s main rear camera, it records at either 4K (default) or 1080p at 30fps. When you use Video Boost, you end up with two clips – an initial “preview” file that’s unboosted and available for instant sharing, and the second “boosted” file that takes its sweet time in processing.
Behind the scenes, Video Boost utilizes an entirely different processing pipeline, holding onto much more captured image data that would typically be discarded in standard video recording. Think of it like the relationship between RAW and JPEG files in photography. These temporary files hog space on your device until they’re sent to the cloud, at which point they’re promptly deleted – a blessing, considering they can be several gigabytes for longer clips. The boosted videos, on the other hand, are far more reasonable in size.
Upon initial interaction with Video Boost, one might perceive it as a stopgap solution – a demonstration of a feature that currently relies on the cloud but will eventually move on-device. After all, Qualcomm showcased an on-device version of something similar just a while back. But according to Reynolds, that’s not the game plan. He believes that the cloud will always outshine on-device capabilities. The things achievable in the cloud, he asserts, will consistently be more impressive than what your phone can handle.
As an example, Reynolds points out that Pixel phones currently run smaller, optimized versions of Google’s HDR Plus model on-device. However, the full-scale “parent” HDR Plus model, developed over a decade for Pixel phones, is too massive to run on any phone realistically. While on-device AI capabilities are expected to improve, certain cloud-dependent functions will remain unparalleled. The cloud, in Reynolds’ view, is just another component of Tensor’s capabilities.
In essence, Video Boost provides a glimpse into the future – a future where on-device AI collaborates seamlessly with cloud-based AI. As capabilities evolve, more functions will be handled by this combination, blurring the line between what your phone can do and what a cloud server can achieve. It might not deliver the same ‘aha’ moment as Night Sight did, but it represents a significant shift in how we perceive our phone’s capabilities.
In conclusion, Google Pixel 8 Pro Video Boost is not just about brighter videos; it’s about embracing a future where the collaboration between on-device and cloud-based AI becomes second nature. It’s about capturing moments with enhanced vibrancy and detail, transcending the limitations of low-light videography. As we navigate this evolving landscape of smartphone innovation, Video Boost stands as a testament to the relentless pursuit of better, brighter, and more beautiful videos in our pockets.