Image Stabilization & Rolling Shutter Reduction with After Effects CS5

With the release of After Effects 5.5, Adobe introduces an entirely new method for stabilizing footage that can also be useful to video editors. The Warp Stabilizer can remove jitter caused by camera movement. The effect is very useful as it can remove both unstable parallax type movements (where images appear to shift on planes). An extra benefit for those shooting with CMOS type sensors (such as those on DSLR cameras) is the ability to compensate for the rolling shutter which can lead to an optical bending of material that has strong vertical lines.

1. Select a clip in an After Effects composition. You can also send clips from Adobe Premiere Pro to After Effects via Dynamic Link.

2. Choose Animation > Stabilize Motion. The Warp Stabilizer effect is applied to the layer. The footage is immediately analyzed between its in and out-points. The analysis process takes two steps and you’ll see a banner across the footage as it’s analyzed. You can also see a progress update in the Effect Controls panel. While the analysis is in progress, you can keep working in the project.


3. You can enhance the effect with several useful options for the Stabilization Method:

  • Result – You can choose Smooth Motion to retain the general camera movement (albeit stabilized) or No Motion to attempt remove all camera movement.
  • Smoothness – This option specifies how much of the original camera movement should be retained for Smooth Motion. Use a higher value for maximum smoothness.
  • Method – There are four methods available. The two most powerful are Perspective and Subspace Warp. If either method creates too much distortion you can try switching to Position, Scale and Rotation or just Position.

If you want to see just how much the stabilizer is actually doing, set the Framing to Stabilize Only. This will show you black around the edges. If the motion looks unnatural, you can always adjust the Smoothness settings.

4. You can also control how the borders are drawn for the effect. With the Framing pop-up you can choose to simply stabilize the shot. You can also tell After Effects to automatically scale or even synthesize new edge content.


5. If you see vertical distortion or warping in the shot, enable the Rolling Shutter Ripple option under the Advanced category. In order to use these advanced options you need to use either the Subspace Warp or Perspective method for Stabilization. Be sure to experiment with both methods as the choice may vary based on the source footage.nIf you want maximum stabilization quality you can choose the Detailed Analysis option under the Advanced category. This makes the Analysis phase do extra work to find elements to track. This option is much slower, but produces superior results.

6. Use the RAM preview option to preview the effect as needed.