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Ready, Steady, Shoot

An electronically stabilized video-camera mount for the masses

4 min read
Ready, Steady, Shoot
Photo: David Schneider

Video: David Schneider, Davey Alba, and Celia Gorman
Street view: a quick overview of the DIY electronic camera stabilizer in action on the streets of New York City.

In the 1970s, cameraman Garrett Brown wowed the movie industry by inventing the Brown Stabilizer, soon renamed the “Steadicam”: a mechanical system for stabilizing motion-picture cameras as they are carried about. Brown’s device relied on a clever arrangement of well-balanced counterweights, and it permitted shots that would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain previously, including many of the action scenes in 1976’s Marathon Man and Rocky.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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