What is Warp Stabilizer Effect?

When shooting footage with a handheld camera, you will inevitably end up with shaky footage. No matter how much control you think you have over your camera, walking, wind, and normal hand movements will undoubtedly leave some evidence behind on your footage. In this blog, you will learn why you need to use the Warp Stabilizer effect and how to apply it.

When shooting footage with a handheld camera, you will inevitably end up with shaky footage. No matter how much control you think you have over your camera, walking, wind, and normal hand movements will undoubtedly leave some evidence behind on your footage.

Unless you want to keep that shaky effect, you will need to stabilize the shots. You can do this using a Warp Stabilizer effect available in many video editing programs including After Effects and Premiere Pro.

A Warp Stabilizer effect removes the unwanted movement so that it looks smooth. This works by scaling the layer and incrementally moving it to offset the unintentional movement.

In this blog, you will learn why you need to use the Warp Stabilizer effect and how to apply it.

Why You Need Warp Stabilizer for Handheld Footage

As a viewer, watching shaky footage can leave you feeling unstable, possibly even motion sick, if the shake is too bad. When you record video footage using a handheld camera, you will get some unavoidable shake. Using video editing software and a Warp Stabilizer tool, you can isolate and eliminate that movement to produce smooth, even footage that you can add more effects to including animation.

However, it is important to remember that Warp Stabilization is not perfect. The better your footage is, the better your results will be. There may be some cases where Warp Stabilization will leave you with skewed results since it must manipulate the pixels. To avoid this, try to make your original filming process as stable as you can. Some footage may be too shaky to salvage.

How to Use Warp Stabilizer VFX in After Effects

In the latest version of Adobe After Effects, the stabilizer tool is called Warp Stabilizer VFX. When applied, it automatically eliminates extra movement.

Follow these steps to use the Warp Stabilizer VFX in After Effects:

  1. Import Your Footage

Double-click in the empty Project panel. This will open the Import File dialog box. Select the file you want and click Import.

  1. Create the Composition

Drag the clip from the Project panel onto the Create A New Composition button at the bottom of the panel. You can click the RAM Preview button to watch your footage. Press the spacebar to stop the video.

  1. Apply the Warp Stabilizer VFX

Select your video footage in the Timeline and navigate to Animation > Warp Stabilizer VFX. A blue banner will appear while it analyzes the footage. This happens in the background so you can work on other projects while it finishes. How long it takes will depend on the length of the footage, how unstable it was, and your operating system.

When it has finished analyzing, the banner will change from blue to orange and it will start stabilizing. Once it has finished, the banner will disappear. Create another RAM Preview to watch your new stabilized footage.

If your footage is still shaky, continue with step 4.

  1. Adjust the Warp Stabilizer VFX settings

To improve the results of the warp stabilization, you can adjust some of its settings within the Effect Controls panel. When you adjust the settings, like the Smoothness or Result, After Effects will immediately start the stabilization process again with the orange bar. It does not have to analyze the footage again because it is stored in the memory.

The options in the Result setting include “Smooth Motion” and “No Motion.” If you choose No Motion, the system will likely scale up your footage, whereas with Smooth Motion, it might add a subtle camera effect, like a slight pan to one side to help stabilize and smooth out the motion with minimal scaling.

Every time you make an adjustment, create another RAM preview to monitor your results.

  1. Continue to Stabilize

If your footage still needs fine-tuning, you can adjust settings such as Position, Rotation, and Scale from the Method menu in the Effect Controls panel. Keep in mind that you should avoid increasing the Additional Scale value above 114% as scaling degrades the image.

Continue to create RAM previews after each change. Once you are satisfied with your footage, save your work.

How to Use Stabilize Motion Feature

Another way to stabilize shaky footage in After Effects is to use the Stabilize Motion feature. This is an older method that takes more work to produce similar results to Warp Stabilization VFX.

If you want to try the Stabilize Motion feature, follow these steps:

  1. Import Your Video File

Import your shaky video file and select that layer on your timeline.

  1. Open Track Motion

Navigate to Animation > Track Motion. This will open a Tracker panel. Select the Stabilize Motion feature and a tracker box will appear in the center of the footage.

  1. Find a Pixel to Track

With the tracker box, you need to isolate a pixel on the screen that is easy to track. This should be a pixel that never leaves the screen or gets blocked by another object. Something with a contrasting color next to it is best. You can zoom in on the footage to help fine-tune the tracker box placement and reduce the focus area.

Go back to the Tracker panel and click the play button next to Analyze. Watch your tracker box to make sure it stays on top of your desired pixel. It will automatically create all the keyframes needed to stabilize the footage.

If you are happy with the tracked results, click Apply in the Tracker panel.

  1. Scale the Footage

Play back your footage and the motion should be smooth. However, you will likely see black bars appear around the edges. This is where the program has to adjust the frame and it cannot create new pixels. To compensate for that, you will need to adjust the scale.

Depending on the footage, you can make small adjustments to the scale until the black bars disappear.

Warp Stabilization Plugins for Premiere Pro & After Effects

Warp Stabilization is a useful tool for creating professional-looking, smooth footage. However, doing it manually for each shot can be time-consuming. There are warp stabilization plugins available for both Premiere Pro and After Effects that can save you time.

  • Batch Stabilization Analysis: The Batch Stabilization Analysis plugin for Premiere Pro lets you queue up as many clips as you want so that they analyze and stabilize back to back.
  • NewBlue Stabilizer: Another plugin option is Stabilizer from NewBlue. It gives your shaky footage a Steadicam look.
  • ReelSteady: ReelSteady is a stabilization plugin for After Effects.

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