In a previous before-and-after edition, we showed you how we color grade our raw video footage to bring out the incredible contrast and natural colors captured by RED digital cinema cameras. If you’re one of the lucky filmmakers out there who upgraded your video equipment over the holidays by unwrapping an aerial drone, jib, or shoulder mount, you might want to think next about post-production stabilization.

Even if you’re James Cameron and using the best camera equipment on the market, you can still have some unwanted camera shakes in your footage. Unless you’re making a home movie, documentary, or yet another addition to the Bourne movie franchise, those jitters and jolts are likely too unprofessional to keep in your film.

To make sure our footage meets professional studio standards, our content team uses—and highly recommends—Adobe Premiere Pro’s miracle plugin Warp Stabilizer.

How to Use Warp Stabilizer: Fixing Footage in Three Simple Steps

For most videos, using Warp Stabilizer is really simple:

  1. Apply the Warp Stabilizer plugin to shaky video within Adobe Premiere Pro.
  1. Wait a few minutes.
  1. Enjoy your stable footage!

Warp Stabilizer uses a series of algorithms to automatically analyze your footage pixel by pixel to smooth any abstract motion that comes up. It’s great for those times when you’re going handheld and you’ve got a case of what I like to call “shivering surgeon’s hands.” (Don’t worry, young grasshopper, even the most seasoned filmmakers have produced a clip that would push Warp Stabilizer to the limit.)

When Good Effects Go Bad

If the first run-through fails to have the desired effect, and you notice that instead of stabilizing your camerawork the plugin has destabilized your leading actress’s human form, there are a number of adjustments that you can make manually to the effect’s settings to fix any issues.

Here is a brief explanation of the different methods Warp Stabilizer can use to correct unstable footage:

Before-and-After: Stabilizing Video Footage
Position: The effect’s most basic method of stabilization. This uses position data alone to stabilize footage.

Position, Scale, and Rotation: This method stabilizes footage based on position as well as image scale and rotation.

Perspective: This setting uses a type of stabilization that corner-pins the entire frame.

Subspace Warp: The default setting, this will warp individual parts of the frame differently after analyzer maps to “3D” space. This is best when there is intended motion in the frame, as well as unwanted shakes.

After the plugin completes its analysis of your footage, make sure you render and then play through your clip a few times. If you notice any distortions from your footage being warped unnaturally, you will need to adjust Warp Stabilizer’s effect settings and click “Analyze” to run through your footage again. In addition to the different stabilization methods listed above, the plugin’s smoothness level should be used to adjust how much the camera’s original motion is stabilized.

Want to see Warp Stabilizer in action? We took a shot taken from a 33-foot crane that had a few shakes and ran it through Adobe’s miracle plugin:

Despite its incredible features, ability, and obviously stunning results, Adobe’s Warp Stabilizer effect can’t work actual magic—so it’s always a good idea to try and capture the best shot possible before heading into the editing room.

Adam Gillikin writes about stock footage, video editing, and Adobe Premiere Pro for VideoBlocks.