As filmmakers, we often find ourselves in less-than-perfect circumstances; we may be losing sunlight at the end of a shoot or trying to capture a fleeting moment before it disappears. Often times you’ll find that you've captured great moments with an undesirable camera shake. I've found myself in this situation countless times and I want to share something that has changed the way I deal with shaky footage.
Adobe After Effects' Warp Stabilizer filter is an incredibly powerful tool. In a nutshell, the filter analyzes your footage and renders out a beautifully smooth shot.
Of course, Warp Stabilizer isn’t a miracle cure for bad footage. Much like other Adobe filters (like Photoshop’s content aware) you can end up with some pretty obscure and undesirable results.
YouTube heavyweight Corridor Digital has put together a great introduction to the Warp Stabilizer filter. A few important things to remember are:
1. Motion blur and rolling shutter are nearly impossible for Warp Stabilizer to analyze. The best way to counter this is to shoot at a higher shutter speed. Also, trying to minimize rolling shutter (aka jello footage) in your shots. This can be accomplished by trying to minimize abrupt movement.
2. Compose your shot slightly wider than planned. Warp Stabilizer will crop your footage to around 105-110% after stabilization.
3. Warp Stabilizer isn't only a tool for shaky shots. Steadicam, jib and octocopter footage often has minor imperfections. Warp Stabilizer can be a great finishing touch. Here’s an example from a commercial I shot earlier this year.
It’s important to remember that a smooth shot isn’t always better than a shaky shot. However, Warp Stabilizer is an powerful tool that every filmmaker should know about. Feel free to post your own Warp Stabilizer shots in the comments below.