Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Applying the Warp Stabilizer VFX, part of After Effects Guru: Tracking Cameras and Stabilizing Footage.
The Warp Stabilizer effect is very similar to the 3D Camera Tracker, at least the under hood. By analyzing the scene and determining tracking points, After Effects can look for variation within the frame. Now, you may be familiar with the warp stabilizer from its use inside of Premier Pro. In After Effects the effect takes on a few different uses, hence the revised name of Warp Stabilizer VFX for visual effects. It can be used, of course, for traditional stabilization, as well as a handful of other special use cases.
Let's take a look at a couple of clips that would benefit from stabilizing. We'll open up this one here, and I'll let that play. You could see in this case with the handheld shot that there is some jitter. While the intent was to make a smooth shot, there's a little bit of variation caused by hand holding the camera. In this case, I could be a little bit more stable and I'd like to put that in post. I was out walking for the day and didn't have the ability to bring a tripod with me. On the other hand, sometimes you'll find yourself chasing action. And in the case of a shot like this, while relatively stable, there is a bit of extra movement, and it could be smoother.
Let's put both of these into a composition. By dragging them onto the New Comp icon, I'll choose to create two separate compositions and click OK. Now in this case I have the ray trace 3D engine on from before. It doesn't really matter in this case but I could turn it off by choosing the composition settings for each comp. Open that up, composition settings, and under the advance tab I'll switch back to the classic 3D. Let's do the same here, Composition Settings > Classic 3D.
For both of these, I'll set the window to Fit so you could see the whole details of the frame. Once this is done, leave the footage layer selected, and click the Warp Stabilizer button. You'll find it in the Tracker panel. You can also use the Effects and Presets list, and just type in the word Warp, and you'll find that the Warp Stabilizer VFX is available under the Distort category. Additionally, right-clicking on the clip allows you to apply the Warp Stabilizer VFX.
So, there's really several different ways to pull this off. In this case, I've applied the effect to two different compositions. And you'll see that both of them are performing background analysis. What'll happen here is that it will begin to analyze the clips. The blue bar indicates that the analysis stage is happening, and you could track the progress here with the percentages and a time remaining estimate. You'll note in this case that both of them are being analyzed concurrently, and if you have adequate processor power, you can do this. With the analysis, it's going to take about ten to 20 kilobytes per frame.
This means that the memory requirements are going to be used during the analysis stage and the solving. Essentially, after this blue bar completes, it will switch to an orange bar where we'll be stabilizing the shot. During this analysis and solving stage, you are free to continue to work. You can use color grading filters, switch to another composition and really start things out. This process is very similar to the camera tracker that you learned about earlier. In the case of the warp stabilizer though, the requirements are going to stay there as overhead.
Once you've completed the stabilization, what will happen is that data will become cached in the effect and then stored with the project file. That ten to 20 kilobytes per frame can really add up over time. This is why you don't want necessarily apply the Warp Stabilizer to every clip in the project. Rather, choosing just the clips that need it because all of that data can add up; bloating your project size, increasing memory requirements, and also increasing the amount of time it takes to load and save your active project.
If you want to boost this performance, remember. Under preferences, you could choose Memory and Multi Processing and make sure to bump up the memory reserve for other applications. This analysis is actually a background application outside of AfterAffects. Once the stabilization is done, you'll see that orange bar as it stabilizes the scene. And then it attempts to make the clip stable. What's necessary is that you then choose a result. Whether you want no motion or to smooth the motion out.
Additionally, you have four different methods to choose from, as to how the shot is stabilized. Let's explore all of these methods in detail
- Analyzing footage
- Using the 3D camera tracker to stabilize footage
- Choosing and moving a target
- Adding 3D text to a scene
- Tracking an object
- Applying the Warp Stabilizer VFX
- Choosing a stabilization method
- Reducing rolling shutter distortion
- Matching movement