At a Glance
- Supports a wide range of mobile video formats
- Buggy; Generates files that consume gargantuan amounts of hard drive space
Video Enhancer offers a wide range of options designed to clean up most of the problems with mobile phone videos.
Almost everyone has a mobile phone with a camera that can record
both still images and video nowadays. The only problem is that
mobile video codecs don’t exactly produce video of the highest
quality. In fact, phone video is typically blocky, out of focus,
and shaky. I had high hopes for this nifty-sounding tool from Stoik
Imaging, makers of the very well-received Imagic
Maker image editing and management applications. Their work on
techniques that improve the quality of marginal still images is
really out on the cutting edge. Could their free demo do the same
for mobile video?
Unfortunately, in this first version of Video Enhancer, the
answer is a resounding no. I wasn’t expecting the kind of fantasy,
super-resolution enhancement that’s possible only in television and
movies, but almost anything would be an improvement. The software
supports a wide range of mobile video codecs, which is good because
most desktop PC media players or organizers offer spotty coverage
to replay video from phones. That’s about where the good news
Stoik Video Enhancer requires the latest version of Windows
Media Player and DirectX, so factor in the storage and
time-to-download and -install these products into your
consideration. If you’re already up to date, great. If not, it
could add another 15 minutes, a reboot, and about 75MB of hard
drive space to the installation requirements.
I started out by picking some short clips of standard-definition
video from my Android mobile phone (352 by 288 resolution, encoded
in h.263). The largest was about 1.6MB in size and 33 seconds in
length. The program, by default, has some modifications
checked–these are the real powerhouses of the program, and the
reason you might pay $49 for Video Enhancer instead of just
transcoding your mobile video into a more compatible format using
something free, like FFMPEG.
By default, Stoik Video Enhancer opts to perform noise reduction
and deblurring, and to make adjustments to the color balance and
exposure levels, which should drastically improve most of the
things that are wrong with your average mobile phone video. It does
not, by default, perform image stabilization or deinterlace videos,
but you can check boxes to add those tasks to the video’s
enhancement to-do list, as well.
I clicked the Start button, but I’m not really sure what
happened next. The program informed me that it would take about 30
minutes to complete the tasks I selected, so I walked away. About
an hour later, I came back to the PC to find that the program had
crashed. I tried again and again on different test systems running
32-bit XP, disabling one of the enhancement features at a time, but
each time something prevented the file from completing. The vendor
was unable to replicate or explain this issue.
Eventually a different error message began to appear and, after
a little closer analysis, I realized that the program had
completely filled every last byte of storage space on my hard drive
with its attempts, and those files were massively too large: Even
when I simply tried to transcode video with no enhancement options
whatsoever, Video Enhancer generated about 1GB of output for about
every three seconds of video. That made my 33-second video into an
11GB opus that could make James Cameron’s IT director cry. Even
with a terabyte of storage free, I found that the program chewed
through the hard drive with reckless abandon.
Sadly, this version of Video Enhancer doesn’t really make the
cut, but perhaps your mileage may vary. Maybe the next release will
be better, but for now, Stoik Video Enhancer is a great hard drive
stress-test tool that, if you’re luckier than me, may be able to
convert and enhance your mobile phone videos as well.