In many respects, speckle interferometry (SI) techniques are being considered as mature tools in the experimental mechanics circles. These techniques have enlarged considerably the field of optical metrology, featuring nanometric sensitivities in whole-field measurements of profile, shape and deformation of mechanical rough surfaces. Nonetheless, when we consider classical fringe processing techniques, e.g. phase-shifting methods, the deformation range is intrinsically limited to the correlation volume of the speckle field. In addition, the phase evaluation from such patterns is still computationally intensive, especially in the characterisation of dynamic regimes, for which there is a growing interest in a wide range of research and engineering activities. A promising approach lies in the pixel history analysis. We propose in this paper to implement the empirical mode decomposition (EMD) algorithm in a fast way, to put the pixel signal in an appropriate shape for accurate phase computation with the Hilbert transform. © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.