Sometimes using a tripod is not an option and you’re forced to shoot hand-held. Maybe you’re shooting in an amusement park, botanical gardens, or a concert and tripods are not allowed in. Unless you have the ability to stand perfectly still, you will likely need to stabilize the footage in postproduction. Motion stabilization is used to smooth footage and remove camera shake.
In part 2 of this series, I focus on 4 motion stabilization tools:
I am a perfectionist who can't type. After publishing last weeks article, In Depth: Motion Stabilization Options, Part 1, I reworked the article by a new section, General Tips for Stabilizing Footage, I rewrote a portion of the section on Boris Continuum Complete BCC Optical Stabilizer, adding new example videos. I also added several tutorials and resources for the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects and Premiere Pro, as well as BCC Optical Stabilizer. I also spell-checked Be sure to have a look!
A special thanks goes out to my sister, Kari, who is letting me use some video that I shot in examples.
Hosts Full System Requirements
CoreMelt Lock and Load X is a plug-in that does a pretty good job of stabilizing most footage and compensating for the wobbly distortion of rolling shutter,. It works in After Effects, Premiere Pro Final Cut Pro and Motion (Mac only). It's faster than After Effects Warp Stabilizer but not as fast as proDAD Mercalli PRO, which is featured later in this article.
Here are the basics on how to use Lock and Load X.
I had pretty good luck with Lock and Load X. The shots of my sisters wedding and my daughter on the balance beam turned out quite nice. However, the swimming shots were a little tougher. There are options to isolate the tracking area under Tracking Area Properties. This will allow you to select a smaller portion of the screen to track, avoiding elements such as moving water. I isolated the area on the shore by adjusting the Width (%) and Height (%) and moving the Position cross hair to the center of the area I wanted to isolate. After this I needed to click the Track Motion button once again. This helped quite a bit but did not entirely fix the wobble that was mostly present in the trees. It did do a better job than some of the other stabilizers though.
One bug I found was that after setting up the Tracking Area Properties to isolate an area to track, I'd get flashes of the preview box and a message to track the footage during RAM Preview.
Overall, Lock and Load did a very good job, but it was not the best tool. You'll have to keep reading to find out which was the best motion stabilizer I tested! I know the suspense is killing you.
Imagineer mocha planar tracker but it's also a great tool for motion stabilization (and rotoscoping, but that's another article). Imagineer is great for keeping up with the needs of VFX artists by adding new features and hosts. They also have immense an number of tutorial videos, so you should have no trouble finding learning resources..
mocha is a standalone application, not a plug-in. mocha AE comes with Adobe After Effects but can also be purchased separately if you are running an older version of AE. mocha Pro allows the user to output to many different hosts, so if you're using Avid, Nuke, Final Cut Pro or something else, you'll want to use mocha Pro. mocha Pro exports data that your host NLE can import and use.
mocha is pretty fast and does a nice job, but for ease of use, I prefer to use a plug-in that is more automated. I just prefer less steps.
For more help see After Effects Help / Tracking and stabilizing motion
[[Examples and more info coming Friday]]
CHV MotionTracker-collection uses a single selected point to either lock your footage to s specific point or use the anti-shake feature to remove camera shake.
Host Support Windows:
Host Support Macintosh:
I guess I've saved the best for last this time. This one really impressed me. I did several tests on all kinds of footage and I had very fantastic results with every shot. Mercalli PRO worked well on the swimming shots that have been difficult for other motion stabilizers to fix. It did as well or better than Adobe CS6 Warp Stabilizer, with the added benefit of being much, much faster. It did great on shots that dolly in, too.
Mercalli PRO uses 3D video stabilization, which independently stabilizes the X, Y, and Z camera axis.
To get to Mercalli PRO's interface, where all of the options of the filter live, click Options in either the Timeline or in the Effect Controls. The interface has several options, but I like to start with the Virtual Stabi-Cam pull down window in the upper right corner. Glide Camera worked great with shots that pan or dolly in. Universal Camera worked well with shots that are shaky. Rock-Steady is meant to be used when a shot needs to be locked down. This worked well on shots with not a lot of movement, otherwise, with Best Border selected under Border Handling, the clip will be zoomed in. It's hidden in the image above, but there's a checkbox for Rolling-Shutter Compensation under the menu in the upper right corner. I kept this checked for most of the shots I stabilized, since most were shot on iPhone or other CMOS camera. Rolling Shutter Compensation helped to remove the "Jell-o-vision" and skew from videos during the stabilization process. Turning on Roll Compensation, Horizontal Tilt Compensation and Vertical Tilt Compensation also helped for shots with a lot of wobble. Pan Shot Smoothing really helped steady the shaky shots.
As for as border handling, I prefer to keep Avoid Border checked. Under Border Handling, there are also options for Best Stabilization, which will reveal the edges of the footage, and Fix Borders. When the borders are created, especially on very shaky footage, the edges reflect and repeat. I didn't think it looked very good, so I keep Avoid Border checked and zoom it in. As long as the shot isn't moving too erratically, I had good results and the footage did not get too soft.
Once settings are made, Mercalli PRO analyzes the footage in another pop up window. Preview the shot, see how it looks and tweak settings if needed. It will run the Analyze again, but it's very fast so it's not a problem.
One little bug I noticed was that I would occasionally need to re-run the analysis right after I had just run it. I had moved to another point in the Timeline and suddenly the stabilized footage had an error telling me to re-analyze. Again Mercalli is fast, so it was not a big deal.
Overall, Mercalli Pro was the best of the bunch and I highly recommend picking it up. It's not expensive, it works in a slew of hosts and it just works! What's not to love? Und wenn Sie Deutsch sprechen, haben sie Dokumentation in deutscher und englischer Sprache!
The interface looks quite a bit different but it looks like it gives the same results.
Posted by Michele Yamazaki
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