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: