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After Effects CS5 Essential Training
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Stabilizing shaky footage


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After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

Video: Stabilizing shaky footage

In this chapter, we are going to look at stabilizing motion in order to stabilize shaky footage, such as that scene here. This is a handheld shot, which often has this camera shake, and sometimes it's a desirable look and sometimes it's not. What we are going to do is make this stable by having After Effects go in and track the motion here. So, in this movie, that's we are going to do. We are going to stabilize this. But in the remaining movies in this chapter, we are going to look at what you can do once After Effects has actually followed or in other words tracked an object in your scene.
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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After Effects CS5 Essential Training
8h 39m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the After Effects workflow
  • Precomposing footage
  • Explaining the basics and beyond of animating
  • Creating glows, patterns, textures, and more with effects
  • Color correcting footage
  • Working with text
  • Manipulating video playback speed
  • Masking objects and shape layers
  • Removing backgrounds with keying
  • Compositing multiple pieces of footage
  • Integrating After Effects with the rest of the Creative Suite
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Chad Perkins

Stabilizing shaky footage

In this chapter, we are going to look at stabilizing motion in order to stabilize shaky footage, such as that scene here. This is a handheld shot, which often has this camera shake, and sometimes it's a desirable look and sometimes it's not. What we are going to do is make this stable by having After Effects go in and track the motion here. So, in this movie, that's we are going to do. We are going to stabilize this. But in the remaining movies in this chapter, we are going to look at what you can do once After Effects has actually followed or in other words tracked an object in your scene.

It's amazing what you could do with motion tracking. So, let's go ahead and go to the Window menu at the top and open up the Tracker. It's just called Tracker here. That opens up the Tracker panel. We can't do anything with it, because like so many other things in After Effects, we need to motion tracking in the Layer panel. So, double-click the layer to open this footage in the Layer panel. Now in the Tracker, we have two choices. We can track motion, or we can stabilize motion. Again, the process of doing these is identical.

It's the same thing. But we are going to start with Stabilizing Motion. So, I am going to click Stabilizing Motions. And then we get this little gizmo here that consists of three things. We have an outer box, an inner box and a little plus. The plus is really the key point. That's what generates the data. And then this inner box is what we call the feature region. We want to put whatever After Effects is going to follow in this box. So, I am going to zoom out and see my footage and I might even want to scrub in time and see something that I can follow throughout the course of the shot.

I am looking for something that has motion that is indicative of the motion of the hand-held shots. So, if I had a bird flying, unless I wanted to track the bird itself, I wouldn't want to track that, because that wouldn't help stabilize the background shot. Likewise, I want to find something with good contrast. If I zoomed in here, if I grab like one of these shrubs over here in this group of shrubs, that would not be a good track because After Effects would lose track of it, no pun intended. So, what I am going to do is move my cursor to the inside of the feature region box.

I'll get a move icon. I want to click and drag this over to this little lamppost or something, whatever this is. As you can see, when I am clicking and dragging, I get kind of like this zoomed-in view of what that's going to look like. That's about where I want it. And so, I am going to let go and actually zoom in. I am going to resize my feature region here and maybe click and drag, move this around, and that's about right. We want to make sure that we get all of the thing that we want tracked and we want to make sure that maybe we leave a couple of extra pixels around the edges as well.

I don't need too much extra stuff here. That looks about right. And then this outer box is called the search region. What we want to do is want to make the search region as big as it needs to track this from shot to shot. So, if from one frame to the next, this object is going to jump way over here to the right side of where my mouse is freaking out over here. Then what I want to do is make my search region that big. But we don't need to make this as big as the object will move over the course of the entire shot, just as big as it will move from frame to frame.

And as I am moving this around here, we could see that it doesn't really move too much from one frame to the next. So, we don't need a feature region that big. Now, another issue is that you see that I actually created the track when my Current Time Indicator was at 4 seconds and 16 frames in. That's fine. You could actually go in and start tracking from any point in time. We could actually track this backwards, and we could track it forwards as well. So, you basically want to get to whatever frame that the object that you are tracking is the most clear.

Now, in my case here, I don't want to actually track backwards and forwards, because that would just be little bit tedious. So, I am going to hit the Home key and then just click and drag and move from the center of the feature region back into place and everything will just kind of move as is. So, that looks pretty good. And now I am going to go back to my Tracker panel. Again, I am making sure that I am in the Layer panel here. And then, in the Tracker panel, I am going to click this right button, which is Analyze Forward. And as I click that, it will start moving around. Now, you'll notice that these search and feature regions are moving in tandem with this object that we are tracking.

It's moving and it's shaking and that's good. That's what we want. What you don't want to happen is for this stuff to kind of drift off to the side. If that does happen, come back to the Tracker immediately and stop it. Press the Stop button. Everything that you've done already will still be there. But then what you'll need to do is back up in time and then adjust the search and feature regions and then come back and analyze forward again. So, a lot of times when you are doing tracking it's just constant like stop/ start, stop/start thing where you are constantly stopping and adjusting and then going back and fiddling with it to make sure you get a good track.

And if you are done, it's the end of the work area. And as I'm dragging around, I see that there is constant movement and if it looks as if the boxes are following the layer, then that's good. That is a good track. That's what we want. Now, so far in the process, all we've done was we had After Effects track the motion. That all that's happened. If we were to go back to our composition now and look at the original layer, we'd see no difference whatsoever. What we have to do now is apply the stabilization data to our layer.

So, what we do here is we can go to Edit Target, and we really don't have a choice. We can only apply the motion to our current layer. I'll click OK. And then, come down at the bottom of the Tracker panel and if you're not seeing this, if it's squished like this, you might need to resize the panel. But go ahead and click the Apply button. You'll then get a tiny pop-up saying Do you want to Apply the Dimensions in X and Y or just X or just Y? We want X and Y for stabilization. I am going to go ahead and click OK. And then it takes us back to our composition.

The first thing you'll notice is that there's a lot of blank space around the edges of every frame. And that's because After Effects has to actually move the layer on every frame in order to make this object that we were having in track stay in the same place. So, it's a very unusual look because as we scrub here, it used to be that the frame itself was staying in the same spot and the content was moving around. Now it's the opposite, the content is staying in the same spot, but the frame is moving around. So, one of the things that's kind of cool about High Definition Video becoming more in style, I guess, is that we are dealing with big frame, big footage.

So, what we could do, if this were an HD clip, we could put it inside of a smaller clip. Let's say the footage was originally 1920x1080 pixels. What we could do is put that inside of a 1280x720 size composition and it would be perfect and it would crop off these edges. We could also scale this layer up. We can press S and then scale this up so we are not seeing any of those black bars. But the problem with that, of course, is that we lose image quality by doing that. But that sometimes is a necessary evil in order to stabilize footage.

So, now I'll press the Home key, zoom into 100%, and we'll do a RAM Preview here to see what we have. Well, it's definitely much different than it was before. We are still getting a little bit of jitter around the top edge here. But overall, we have an amazingly stable shot where there was a very jerky shot before.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CS5 Essential Training.


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Q: In the "Creating a fireball" movie in Chapter 6, the author showed how to make a fireball. Unfortunately, it all centered around a blob layer that he made without showing how to make a blob layer. How does one go about creating a blob layer like the one used in the video?
A: To create a blob layer, make a shape layer using the Pen tool. Animate the anchor points over time to make it move. These concepts are reviewed in depth in Chapter 4, "Learning to Animate."
Q: In the Chapter 5 video "Understanding precomposing," the exercise file provided does not seem to match up with the file the instructor uses. My file does not include a "Biker Body" layer. Is there an error in the exercise file?
A: Unfortunately, the exercise file originally distributed for this chapter was incorrect. A new file was issued in February 2011. If you downloaded the exercise files prior to then, you can download the corrected file on the Exercise Files tab of the course page.
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
 
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

 
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