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Review: proDAD Mercalli SAL for Mac

Paul Schmutzler demos and discusses the first-ever Mac version of proDAD's popular and powerful Mercalli stabilization solution.

How Mercalli Fared With Each Clip

On the first clip, I chose not to use the camera profile because I wanted to see what kind of a difference it made. Watch this clip on a horizontal split screen here. You can see right away where the differences are, and you can see how much of a difference it makes (Figure 9, below). It’s pretty much night and day. There’s quite a bit of zooming going on, but you can start adjusting things by using these sliders while Mercalli is playing back and see what helps.

Figure 9. Horizontal split-screen

The Roll-Balance is something I really wanted to adjust because the cycle bounces back and forth so much. You can also adjust how much of the border will be seen. Then you can choose your priorities (Figure 10, below), whether you want the best resolution out of your clip or simply the best stabilization and you don’t care if it’s kind of grainy or pixelated. You just want it to be steady so you can see something.

Figure 10. Choose stabilization priorities here.

For the next clip I did choose the camera profile, GoPro Hero 3. Then I chose the Vibrations/Wobble CMOS correction, because this clip that had a ton of road vibration in it. I wanted to see how Mercalli would do with that. You can see the vertical split-screen preview here. In this case, there might have been too much vibration for Mercalli to completely fix. I tried adjusting some of these settings, some of these sliders to see if it got any better. I couldn’t really get a whole lot better than it did already. So in some cases, it’s best to just leave it alone.

Mercalli did a fantastic job of stabilizing the waterfall clips. Here, you can see the wobble at the edge of the frame. Now watch as I change this to a vertical split screen to see how much the one on the right stays steady. While you pan it's very hard to see, but when it gets to the bottom, you’ll notice where the waterfall is split in half in the center, the left side is kind of bouncing around, the right side doesn’t move at all. Again, Mercalli did a great job on this clip.

If you watch the preview, you’ll also notice that this clip is a great candidate for trying out Pan Shot Smoothing. If I start before the pan starts, you can see here that as I adjust that it basically zooms in more or less to help straighten out that pan.

The next two clips are pretty similar, in that they have a lot of wobble in them. You can see the analyzed clip here; it’s nice and steady. The other one was very problematic as well. At the edge of the frame in the original, you’ll see a lot of movement. The analyzed clip is actually a little worse and the reason for that, I think, is because there’s so much water just cascading down that Mercalli is having a hard time finding what’s supposed to be stable and therefore how to make changes as to fix it.

Finally, I put Mercalli to work on the snake clip, my favorite. You can see the source and preview here. Quite stable, but you can see the stick is moving around. If I do a vertical you can see that the stick on the right is now stabilized to virtually no movement. Horizontal, you can actually see the snake’s head divided and see where he’s moving and where he’s not moving.

So that’s proDAD Mercalli SAL for Mac, a powerful stabilization tool now available for the Mac OS. It’s a fantastic product. It's not perfect, but no stabilizer is. As my tests demonstrated, it will work much more efficiently than your NLE’s built-in stabilization tool. You can get it now for an introductory price of $119. That deal lasts through August 31st. After that, the MSRP is $149.

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