The Curiosity Rover Descent Video Gets a 25 FPS Makeover

    August 27, 2012
    Josh Wolford

Last week, NASA finally released the full-res video of the Curiosity rover descent – and it was incredible. Watching the nearly one-ton machine parachute down to the Martian surface is awe-inspiring at 4 frames per second, albeit a bit choppy. This guy decided that it needed to be improved to around 25 frames per second.

So he did, and he was right. The video needed this, and the final product is beautiful.

Using a process called interpolation, YouTube user hahahaspam filled in the gaps to create the most amazing descent video yet. Check it out below:

And if you want to see the difference between the interpolated video and the original video, check this out:

Here’s his explanation of the process, from reddit.

I downloaded the 1648x1200px pictures from here and imported them into After Effects as an image sequence. Then I stretched the image sequence to run at 25 fps which resulted in a legit frame being copied 4 times until the next real frame came. At this point, I went to the original image sequence and started oding manual motion tracking, watching a crater here or there. I made sure I always had at least two data points at any given time so that I could reposition and rotate for fluid motion.

Then I copied that motion tracking data to some null objects, and told after effects to interpolate the data in between using bezier curves (Wikipedia Link). Here is a picture of that progress.

Well, this wasn’t quite enough because I needed the difference in movement between frames, not motion overall, so I coded for position and rotation with After Effect Expressions…

…This gave me a pretty good approximation for the main duration of the descent. Near the end I had to start accounting for changes in scale, and I went in a manually had fun with the heat shield for the first couple seconds of its descent. That’s why it looks extra smooth for the first bit.

Awesome. Just awesome.


Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf