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ways to improve this extremly unsteady footage

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Colin Taylor
ways to improve this extremly unsteady footage
on May 8, 2014 at 4:36:45 am

I'd like to hear suggestions to improve aerial footage like this one:

This is one of the worst examples, of course, and will never yield a decent result. But can it be improved?
I have lots of similar, slightly better stuff and no out-of-the-box (warp, mercalli) stabilizers can improve long sequences at all.
In this case I can just motion track to the tail of the helicopter and it does a great job in keeping the tail steady - but the background is not much better and sometimes even worse.

Yet, it's not a classical problem. The camera has no skew or tilt or even rotation. Scratching through the footage gives a seemingly good impression and rather steady camera path (of course, it's attached to a 1 ton aircraft).

The problem is very simple. Consecutive frames would only need a x-y correction to give a smoother look. Like from a motion tracker. But there is nothing to track over more than a few frames, not even a horizon. And in this case the rolling shutter adds additional complex distortion.

I'm just curious if there are practical approaches to the problem? Aside from getting better footage, which is no easy task either ;-)


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Jim Arco
Re: ways to improve this extremly unsteady footage
on May 14, 2014 at 1:48:59 pm

On my system, After Effects warp stabilizer does a pretty good job of stabilizing this. You might get even better results by first masking out the helicopter tail, running warp stabilizer, then removing the mask.


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Stephen Smith
Re: ways to improve this extremly unsteady footage
on May 15, 2014 at 5:10:37 pm

The Warp Stabilizer in After Effects is amazing. If you don't like the results you can always play with the settings after you analyze the footage. I went to Italy and in Venice I went on a boat ride that was very bumpy. The Warp Stabilizer did an amazing job:

Best of luck.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page

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Jon Chainy
Re: ways to improve this extremly unsteady footage
on May 10, 2014 at 1:25:17 pm

hi, my name is Jon. know of a few simple ways to stabilize this image, and i have enhanced it with the "curves" effect. in order to stabilize the motion, you may need to use the warp stabilizer. i you don't know how to use it, you can always reply and ask me to do it for you. i check my email nearly every day, so i can do it for you. but if you want to do it by yourself, just use the warp stabilizer. if it it not enough to satisfy you, try exporting it and re-importing, then repeating. if you have the mac os, you are in luck. open the file up in imovie and stabilize it there. (when you export, i suggest you export to mp4, avi can take up to 2 gigs for that 10 second file. enjoy!
check it out...
email me for the file or just reply

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