Adobe After Effect CS5.5, released just a few days ago, has a new video stabilization tool call “Warp Stabilizer”. After watching some impressive looking demos, I wanted to try out the new tool myself. What makes this tool more interesting than some other options out there is that Warp Stabilizer can correct some of the rolling shutter and “jello” issues that occur with DSLR video. When I’ve used stabilizing software on DSLR footage in the past, I gotten images that were steady, but had major distortion.
Smoothcam levels out the shot, but adds jitters near the end. WarpStabilizer makes the shot completely level, without any jitters. However, the resulting image is a little softer. I believe this was caused by turn WS’s ”Rolling Shutter Ripple” to enhanced reduction. Changing this setting removed some warping effects I was seeing, but had the side effect of changing the image.
Both Smoothcam and WarpStabilizer fail to make this shot usable. The shot is very shaky and the camera moves at near the same time as the subject moves, which further confuses both stabilizers. When I attempted to use WarpStabilizer to remove the “jello” the results were awful. For WS to fix jello it needs to be able to detect the fore-ground and back-ground of a shot. Since the actor in this shot is right up against the door, WS can’t tell which is which.
WarpStabilizer makes the camera movement a litte smoother than Smoothcam in this shot. In general, stabilization software crops your shot. WS has a feature called “Synthesize Edges” which will re-draw the edges of your frame so you can avoid cropping. It did work well on this shot, because one of the musician’s faces is right at the edge of the frame. The lesson here, if you are going to be doing any stabilization, don’t have anything important happening on the edge of your frame.
I was very impressed with how WarpStabilizer saves this shot. In this shot, WS can easily tell the difference between the foreground and background (even with the rack focus).