Warp Stabilizer: How to Fix a Shaky Video

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Edited by Ben Jacklin
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If you’ve got a shaky video, Premiere® Pro’s Warp Stabilizer is a solid option to help fix your clip. Here’s the rundown on how to use Warp Stabilizer in Premiere® Pro.

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What is the Warp Stabilizer effect?

Introduced in Adobe CS6, Warp Stabilizer is a motion stabilizer effect in Adobe® Premiere® Pro used to stabilize shaky footage. Editors use it to smooth out handheld shot footage or footage from a camera that didn't have effective built-in stabilization.

Here's how it works:

  • Analyzes your footage. The Warp Stabilizer effect analyzes your footage frame-by-frame with multipoint tracking.

  • Stabilization. Then, the tool uses the tracked points to estimate motion and stabilize the footage. If a point moves from one frame to the next, the stabilizer applies the opposite motion to keep the point steady.

  • Cropping and auto-scaling. Stabilizing footage often results in the frame moving, which can lead to black borders around the edges of the video. To counter this, Warp Stabilizer automatically crops the edges and scales up the footage to maintain the original frame size.

Warp Stabilizer in Premiere® Pro is a powerful tool, but it's not perfect and can produce odd results. If your footage has a lot of motion or if the background changes significantly throughout the clip, you’ll need to do a lot of tweaks. And be aware that it can introduce a "warping" effect, where the footage appears distorted or stretched, hence the name Warp Stabilizer.

But with careful use and settings adjustments, it can be a very effective tool for smoothing out shaky footage. Be sure to use our best warp stabilizer settings in the section below to get the best results.

How to use Warp Stabilizer in Premiere® Pro

Step 1. Import and add your video to the timeline.

Start by importing the video you want to stabilize. Go to File > Import, find your video, and then click Open. Now, drag the video onto the timeline.

Step 2. Create a new sequence

It's generally recommended to apply the Warp Stabilizer effect to a clip in a new sequence. You can do this by right-clicking the clip in your timeline and selecting Nest. Give your nested sequence a name and then click OK.

Step 3. Find the Warp Stabilizer effect

Now, go to the Effects panel. You can do this by clicking Window on the top menu and then selecting Effects. In the Effects panel, type Warp Stabilizer into the search box or look under Video Effects > Distort.

Once you've found the Warp Stabilizer effect, drag and drop it onto the clip in your timeline (the nested sequence you created earlier).

Step 4. Analyze the footage

After you've applied the effect, Premiere® Pro will automatically start analyzing your footage. You can see the progress in the Effect Controls panel. This process can take some time, especially for longer videos.

After Premiere® Pro has finished analyzing your footage, it will automatically stabilize it. You can adjust the settings in the Effect Controls panel if necessary. For example, you can change the smoothness of the stabilization or choose between different methods of stabilization (like No Motion or Smooth Motion).

Step 5. Render your video

Finally, render your video to see the final result. Go to Sequence in the top menu and then click Render Effects In to Out. This will render all effects in your sequence, including Warp Stabilizer.

Remember, it might not work well with clips that have a lot of motion or if the background changes significantly throughout the clip. Review your footage carefully after applying the Warp Stabilizer effect and adjust the settings as necessary to get the best result.

Best Warp Stabilizer settings

Key settings to focus on include:

  • Stabilization

  • Smoothness

  • Borders

  • Crop less/smooth more

  • Detailed analysis

  • Rolling shutter ripple

Here are the most important settings to create the best results:

Stabilization

These settings allow you to adjust the stabilization process before rendering to create a better end-result. It includes four ‘methods’ which can dramatically alter the way clip looks in the end. They are:

  • Subspace warp: this is the default setting in the effect. It works to warp parts of the frame for stabilization. However, this method can cause unwanted warping, so you may need to use one of the simpler edits below.

  • Perspective: this method corner-pins a frame to stabilize it, and is the default from Subspace if there are not enough areas to track. However, this method can cause unwanted keystoning. If that’s the case, move down this list.

  • Position, scale, and rotation: the stabilizer bases everything on position, scale, and rotation data.

  • Position: last, this method based on position data only. It’s the most basic way to stabilize footage.

Smoothness

Smoothness settings are under the Stabilization options and govern the fluidity of the stabilized motion in a clip. It has two general settings and one to tweak the original motion of the shot.

  • Smooth motion: this is the default setting that attempts to smooth out the original camera movements based on the Smoothness setting.

  • No motion: this general function causes the program to remove all motion from a shot – in theory. When you choose this setting, you’ll auto-disable the Crop Less/Smooth More advanced option – see below. Only use this setting if your target object stays in the frame for the entire duration of the clip.

  • Smoothness: this allows you to adjust how much of the camera’s original motion to stabilize. On the low end, the effect will try to stay with the original motion of the shot. You can turn it up, but remember, values over 100 require image cropping.

Borders

These settings tweak how the effect stabilizes the moving edges of a frame. There are four framing settings under this effect:

  1. Stabilize Only

  2. Stabilize, Crop

  3. Stabilize, Drop, Auto-scale (default)

  4. Stabilize, Synthesize Edges

Ultimately, you may need to play with all the framing settings to prevent black borders on your clip. But if there isn’t too much data to generate ‘Stabilize, Synthesize Edges’ typically works well. It causes the program to generate new edges for your footage from existing pixels.

However, you’ll need to render before viewing the complete edit. And you may need to adjust the Smoothness settings to get it just right. 5% is usually enough to balance everything out.

Crop less/smooth more

Crop less/smooth more adjusts the extent to which the effect will crop or scale your footage. This works to prevent the appearance of black borders or gaps because of stabilization. If you have a low value here, it will smooth the image, but you’ll see more of it. The best way to test this feature is to start at 50% and work your way down by increments of 10.

Detailed analysis

The detailed analysis setting controls the degree to which the effect will examine the motion of each pixel in your footage. This is useful for clips with rapid or intricate motion, or those with low contrast or noise. Try out different values to identify the optimal balance for your specific clip.

Rolling shutter ripple

With this effect, the stabilizer will remove the ripples that occur within stabilized rolling shutter footage. The default setting is Automatic Reduction, but the Enhanced Reduction setting is particularly useful for anyone using a DSLR camera. Even if you don’t, it’s worth a shot! However, you can only use this setting under the Perspective or Subspace Warp Methods.

Tips on using the Premiere® Pro Warp Stabilizer

The order in which you apply effects will affect the final render

Whether you’re in Premiere® Pro or After Effects®, be sure to always use Warp Stabilizer to get your clip where you want it before adding more effects. For example, certain color effects will require reanalysis if you apply the effect afterwards, so always use it first.

Leverage the advanced options

Don’t stop at the basic settings before rendering your clip. Settings like Crop Less/Smooth More and Detailed Analysis enable you to perfect the motion and generate a professional-grade effect. However, this can also take up some extra time and increase the size of the project file.

You can use Warp Stabilizer in Proxy Workflow

By default, Premiere® Pro displays a full-resolution file. To lower the size of your project, you can use Warp Stabilizer in the Proxy Workflow mode.

Best Warp Stabilizer plugins

ReelSteady

ReelSteady comes with advanced technical tools that allow for meticulous data tracking. This ensures the best possible stabilization for your footage. The tools are technical, but the plugin interface is simple, making it suitable for users of all experience levels – as long as you’re willing to pay the $399 price tag.

Mercalli V6

Apart from ReelSteady, Mercalli V6, developed by the Germany-based company ProDad, is another reliable stabilization option. It has powerful tools for achieving the stabilization you need, but at a lower cost. And it works with both After Effects® and Premiere® Pro, so you don’t have to transfer clips.

Vakago Batch Stabilization

Although Warp Stabilizer renders excellent results, it requires analysis of your clip. If you try to do this with multiple clips, it can cause Premiere® Pro to crash. If you want to stabilize multiple videos in the background or overnight, the Batch Analysis Plugin fulfills this need.

Summary

And with that, you have everything you need to fix a shaky video with the Warp Stabilizer effect on Adobe® Premiere® Pro. Bookmark this page to refer to our best settings to render the best stabilized clip possible.

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Frequently asked questions

What is Warp Stabilizer?

Does Warp Stabilizer work well?

Is After Effects Warp Stabilizer better than Premiere®?

Where is Warp Stabilizer in Premiere® Pro?

How do I stabilize without the Warp Stabilizer effect?

How do I fix the "Warp Stabilizer requires clip dimension to match sequence" issue?

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