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Basic parameters

From: After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques

Video: Basic parameters

In this movie I am going to go through the parameters of Warp Stabilizer you'll be using most often. For those who have a copy of Creating Motion Graphics for CS5, I'm in the example project for Chapter 29 on stabilization and in Comp_04 starter, the Peacock. I've already set them up, two copies side-by-side. The one on the right is currently not stabilized. The one on the left has Warp Stabilizer at its default settings. I press 0 to queue for RAM preview and now the playback shows me that already just at the default settings it has smoothed down this handheld camera movement compared to the original shot on the right.

Basic parameters

In this movie I am going to go through the parameters of Warp Stabilizer you'll be using most often. For those who have a copy of Creating Motion Graphics for CS5, I'm in the example project for Chapter 29 on stabilization and in Comp_04 starter, the Peacock. I've already set them up, two copies side-by-side. The one on the right is currently not stabilized. The one on the left has Warp Stabilizer at its default settings. I press 0 to queue for RAM preview and now the playback shows me that already just at the default settings it has smoothed down this handheld camera movement compared to the original shot on the right.

There are jitter in the peacock's feathers in the background. That was in the original shot from the wind and just the peacock jittering his feathers around, but you can see how much less nervous the shot on the left is than the one on the right using the default settings. Let's play around with this some more. I want to compare Warp Stabilizer's default settings to our modifications we're going to try. I am going to copy these settings, go to the clip on the right, and paste. The analysis, the stabilization, everything comes over with the paste, and now they're identical.

I'll reselect the clip in the left since that's what we're going to experiment with. We'll start underneath Stabilization. In the prior movie we already talked about the result pop-up. You can choose No Motion or Smooth Motion. I personally prefer smooth motion,and then I'll play with the smoothness parameter to decide how much I want to smooth out the camera's movement. 50 is the default. I personally find that a little bit on the light side. I set it to at least 100 for starters, but just for laughs let's go ahead and put up to 200, press Enter, and we analyze.

The more you smooth a clip, the larger you may need to Auto-scale it to compensate for the camera's movement. Fortunately the Warp Stabilizer effect does this for you and you can see it's already a little bit larger where it becomes here compared to the original stabilization. Press 0 and RAM preview these side-by-side. And there's the playback at normal speed and it indeed smoothes out particularly that dip towards the end of the shot. So this is one thing worth trying out.

It's the different smoothness settings to see what sort of movement do you want in your shot. Since the Warp Stabilizer does a stabilization as a separate pass, it does make previewing these different settings a bit faster than you might expect. Next is the Method pop-up. Warp Stabilizer has four different ways of removing the camera's movement from the original shot. The bottom two involve perspective change in the shot. For example you may get some parallax movement in the shot. Subspace Warp, which is the default, actually tries to analyze the foreground pixels separately from the background pixels to remove that parallax movement.

Perspective just does an ordinary four-corner pin on the entire shot. It does not treat the foreground and background separately. The other two, Position or Position, Scale, Rotation, just use the ordinary transform parameters that you're already familiar with and don't do any perspective change on the shot. Now rather than show you a demo where everything works lovely, I purposely picked this shot because it is tricky. These feathers which are forming the background on this shot is actually throwing Warp Stabilizer off. If I go ahead and drag the Time Indicator right through here, you see the whole peacock seems to tilt back.

That's because Warp Stabilizer is being fooled by this particular shot. Therefore, I may not want to do a perspective type stabilization on this shot. I want to go ahead and change the method to something like Position, Scale, Rotation or just ordinary Position. It recalculates what it needs to do in this case. You'll see Auto-scale changes again as it decides what it needs to do to center up this shot. Actually it takes a little bit less scale, which is kind of nice, and let's RAM preview.

Now as we playback at full speed you see that we don't have that awkward tilt back right here, with the shot on the right with the default settings looks little unnatural. Since I've chosen a method that does not involve perspective. His head stays straight on to the camera in the shot on the left. So if you have any unusual warping or tilting going on, try the different options underneath the Method pop-up. Next is Borders. What does it need to do to the stabilize clip to make it fill out the entire frame.

Anyone who has done stabilization knows when you remove motion you expose part of the background. To cover up the background you either have to do some cropping and framing or you need to blow the shot up. The Warp Stabilizer has a few different choices. For example if you just Stabilize Only, you can see what's going on where the edges of the side of the clip have to be moved to keep the peacock centered in the frame. If you choose Stabilize and Crop, what After Effects will do is figure out where it needs to crop the edges to present a stable frame, no movement to the edges with the stabilized shot playing inside that frame.

You may remember in our book that we went ahead and stabilized in one comp and then masked it down on another comp. This is doing it for you all in one composition. Another option is Stabilize, Crop, then Auto-scale. This is the default. What it basically does is do the cropping you've scene here, then decide how much you need to scale it up to fill the frame and not have any edges, and this is what you've been seeing so far. Now what may not be obvious is that you can twirl down Auto-scale and get access to additional parameters.

You can go ahead and say don't scale more than this. We don't want to blow up a shot too much and make it soft and aliased. You can say look, the bezel on my TV is going to crop off the edges anyway, don't worry about cleaning up the exact edges in this scene. This is fine. I can go ahead and have a little bit of black border in that and scale up the shot less as result. Or if you decide you want to, you can go ahead and scale up the shot even more and it will put these two scale operations together into one step so you don't soften the shot more than you need to.

So you have a lot of flexibility when you scale and crop. So those are the basic parameters you'll be working with in Warp Stabilizer. In the next movie we'll get into some of its advanced options, including its ability to synthesize new edges for your footage.

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After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques

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