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Stabilizing footage with the Warp Stabilizer

Now let’s look at a technique that will improve the look of your footage instantly. Although this may not seem like an “advanced” technique, it’s in this section because performing this level of cleanup makes your project look even more professional. A common issue that occurs with footage recorded on handheld cameras is that it can be shaky and uneven, making it difficult to watch. The Warp Stabilizer, introduced in After Effects CS5, is an incredibly advanced stabilization tool that can make this type of footage look as if it was recorded with a sophisticated camera rig.

What makes the Warp Stabilizer easy to use is its automatic analysis of the footage, which allows for minimal customization. The advanced image analysis, which takes place “behind the scenes” in Adobe Premiere Pro, does all the heavy lifting for you.

Sometimes, editors will encounter a video clip that is well composed but unsteady and not favorable because the videographer did not hold the camera steady or an isolated bump to the tripod occurred. In such situations, the video clip may still be salvageable by removing the camera shake with the new Warp Stabilizer effect in Adobe Premiere Pro.

The Warp Stabilizer works by analyzing a shaky video clip and automatically applying motion to the clip to counteract the unstable motion in the raw clip.

Let’s apply the Warp Stabilizer to a clip in the sequence.

  1. Adjust the Timeline playhead to the third clip in the edit, prod_productionMonitor.m4v. Select this clip in the Timeline.
  2. Play the clip in the Timeline. This clip is a bit shaky and could use some stabilization.
  3. Press Shift+7 to make the Effects panel active.
  4. Type warp in the Search field to quickly locate the Warp Stabilizer effect.
  5. Double-click the Warp Stabilizer effect to apply it to the selected clip.

    The Warp Stabilizer effect immediately starts analyzing the clip, and a blue bar across the image in the Program Monitor indicates that the clip is being analyzed.

  6. Press Shift+5 to open the Effect Controls panel.

    Progress analyzing the clip, in number of frames and percentage, is displayed in the Effect Controls panel.

    When the analysis process is complete, an orange bar appears across the image, indicating that it is being stabilized.

  7. When the stabilization process is complete, play the clip.

    Notice that with the default settings, the Warp Stabilization effect did a fairly decent job. By using the slight camera movements in the shot and by scaling the size of the shot by a small amount, the effect converted the shakiness of the shot into a smooth and slow move to the right.

  8. Press Command+S (Ctrl+S) to save your project.

The results won’t always be perfect with the Warp Stabilizer, depending on the inherent shakiness of the shot itself. It must be mentioned that the Warp Stabilizer scales up the clip slightly, although scaling of up to 110% is usually imperceptible.

In many cases, you don’t have to change any of the default settings in the Warp Stabilizer effect to get a good result. If necessary, the effect has multiple advanced settings to adjust clips with varying levels of shake.

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