Stabilize Shaky Footage with Adobe Premiere [Reel Rebel #45]

Stabilize Shaky Footage with Adobe Premiere [Reel Rebel #45]

You've seen handheld footage work well in a variety of TV shows and movies, so you go about taking your camera on location and shooting completely handheld.  It looks pretty great when you're shooting it, but when you start looking over the footage, you notice a lot of unintended shake in the action.  It's downright embarrassing.  You can't use this.  While you should really figure out how to stabilize a moving camera before you shoot a project, there is a feature in Adobe Premiere (and FCP) that can help fix some of that shakiness.  It won't do wonders with awful footage, but a little bit of shake can be taken care of with Premiere's Warp Stabilizer (in Final Cut Pro it's simply called "stabilization").

How to Use Adobe Premiere's Warp Stabilizer

Before learning how to fix shaky footage in post-production, you really should learn how to fix it before it gets to the editing stage.  A tripod with a fluid head mount will allow you to make camera movements a lot smoother.  But, if you thought your handheld, shaky cam was going to work and it totally failed, all is not completely lost.  But word of warning: this won't turn absolutely worthless footage into perfection.  This is really if you have just a little bit of shake in the footage.

You have the clip on the timeline, so now:

  • Double-click the clip
  • In the preview window click on the Effect Control tab
  • Below that box, click on the Effects tab.
  • Type "Warp Stabilizer" in the search field
  • When it appears, click and drag the effect into the Effect Control window above.  You can release the effect or unclick your mouse to make it so.
  • Make sure your video settings match the sequence settings.  If they don't, Premiere will tell you, "Warp Stabilizer requires clip dimensions to match sequence."  It will also tell you when you've done it right by simply giving you an "analyzing in background" message.

This should work well, but you can tweak what Premiere has done to the footage by going back to the Effect Control window and playing with some of the settings.

Want to take a look at some more post-production tricks?  Here are a couple of good ones:


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View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey, I'm Stephen Schweickart with this episode of the Reel Rebel and-- HOLD ON. CUT! I can't take this anymore. Do I need to buy you a tripod or what ever its gonna take to fix your shaky footage! No-- no I'm not going to do THAT, but I will graciously donate my time to help you fix your shaky footage in post.

Drum roll please… without further adieu… Adobe Premiere! Yes, that's right folks… this mystical, magical program can fix all your problems… your arm swinging while you're holding your camera and your AWESOME handheld panning-- To fix these, decrease the amount of time and workload you'll have in post, you really should have a tripod with a fluid head mount… since you've decided to shoot your avant-garde piece without one AND NOW you're in post regretting it-- let Uncle Stephen put a band-aid on your ego and drop some Warp Stabilizer knowledge on you.

You have Adobe Premiere open on your computer, you've got your masterpiece loaded up, and have it in your timeline.

-Double click your clip -In the preview window click on the Effect Controls Tab -Below that box, click the Effects Tab -Type Warp Stabilizer in the search box -When it appears below, click and drag it into the Effects Control window above -You can release the effect, or un-click your mouse, Grandma -Make sure your video settings match the sequence settings-- if not, you will get this love note from Premiere (points to his side) -It will also let you know when you've done it right (points to his side)

Warp's default settings will do a great job, but if you have a fine attention to detail LIKE ME, you can tweak your settings JUST RIGHT, and sit back and whistle while you render.

It won't fix everything, but next time remember, the more takes the merrier! Do a take where you are stylistically pushing the bounds of cinema and one where I won't ask for my time and money back!

Follow my Grandma's example by clicking the subscribe button below. Now you and my Grandma will cherish our weekly get togethers!

About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

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