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After Effects CS5.5 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding the limits of Warp Stabilizer


From:

After Effects CS5.5 New Features

with Mark Christiansen

Video: Understanding the limits of Warp Stabilizer

Now just in case at this point you're thinking, "What the heck! Why would I ever use a Dolly anymore if this magical tool can stabilize handheld footage, and what's the use of any of the other stabilization tools that you get in After Effects like the built-in Tracker or mocha AE?" Let's take a look at those questions. To do that, we're going to take a look at this clip, which seems very similar to the others, but with some key differences. Warp Stabilizer can do a lot, but one thing it cannot do is remove motion blur, and this clip happens to have a lot of it.

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After Effects CS5.5 New Features
1h 42m Intermediate May 02, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course,, visual effects guru Mark Christiansen covers the relevant new features of After Effects CS5.5, including the new Warp Stabilizer, 3D Stereoscopic workflow, and Lens Effects tools. The course also covers light falloff enhancements and workflow improvements in this release.

Topics include:
  • Adding smooth light falloff
  • Using inverse square falloff
  • Creating lens blur with the After Effects camera
  • Working with Warp Stabilizer
  • Recreating bokeh blur artifacts
  • Creating rack focus
  • Setting up stereo 3D
  • Working with RED camera footage
  • Saving preview time with disk caching
  • Creating an orbit null
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Mark Christiansen

Understanding the limits of Warp Stabilizer

Now just in case at this point you're thinking, "What the heck! Why would I ever use a Dolly anymore if this magical tool can stabilize handheld footage, and what's the use of any of the other stabilization tools that you get in After Effects like the built-in Tracker or mocha AE?" Let's take a look at those questions. To do that, we're going to take a look at this clip, which seems very similar to the others, but with some key differences. Warp Stabilizer can do a lot, but one thing it cannot do is remove motion blur, and this clip happens to have a lot of it.

Let's see what happens if I try stabilizing this clip. So stabilizing the shot, if anything, actually enhances the appearance of the motion blur. it's now much more distracting than it was before. At the time that I recorded this, there was no publicly available tool in the world that can remove it automatically. Therefore, if you're in a shooting situation that you know is going to require stabilization, it's certainly a good idea to raise the shutter speed of the camera to minimize motion blur.

There are even tools like ReelSmart Motion Blur that will allow you to add missing motion blur after the fact. So the first big limitation with Warp Stabilizer is that it simply cannot remove motion blur. Also, you may not know the uber key shortcut in After Effects. That's its shorthand title. If you press UU on the keyboard with a layer selected like this, if there are any keyframes they're revealed. I just clicked UU. I'll do it again and no keyframes are appearing.

There are no keyframes created by Warp Stabilizer at all. You can keyframe individual properties, but this effect itself is almost like a black box. It really creates data and uses it how it wants to use it and gives you a final shot. That means you have fewer options to work with that data after the fact. So just as a point of comparison, let's look at the old way to stabilize a shot. I am going to delete Warp Stabilizer and I am going to use the Tracker to stabilize the shot.

One reason I am bringing this up is it's now a little bit hard to find this feature. If I right-click on the layer, the Track Motion option will get me the Tracker, but Stabilize Motion, whether I choose it over there or over here, is going to bring up Warp Stabilizer. In fact, what I have to do is change the Track Type here to Stabilize. That's where it lives. So I am going to go ahead and do that. And let me choose something really big and obvious and easy to track. I am going to make a big track region. And let's just do his sleeve and let's suppose that we're going to stabilize the shot around that.

So I am going to go ahead and analyze this forward. And with that analysis completed, I can apply that, say OK, and lo and behold, I have keyframes. Let's take a look at that result. This scene is now stabilized just around that one point that I chose. Now there are cases where that could be valuable. So the whole scene isn't looking stable but that one point is holding in place and I have keyframe data. Now with this data, I could go ahead and work on that one area of the frame and then replace the motion back in.

It's beyond the scope of this course to show you how to do that, but I am really just making the point that it is an option that you do have with other forms of tracking that you really just don't have with Warp Stabilization. So although Warp Stabilizer is a revolutionary tool, you can only take advantage of it in specific situations. It helps if the motion on the shot isn't too crazy and it helps even more to use a high shutter speed and avoid cameras with a CMOS chip where possible. For cases where you want actual tracking data to work with or you want to make the motion of one layer match a point or plane from another shot, there are other older tools built into After Effects that remain more useful.

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