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Shootout: Adobe's Warp Stabilizer vs. Apple's Final Cut Pro X Stabilization

Let’s review: Adobe Premiere Pro reaches feature parity with Final Cut Pro, exceeding it in some aspects, and in the process builds up an equal-sized customer base as Apple’s NLE. Then Apple relaunches FCP from the ground up — and removes a lot of the features shared between the two, making Premiere Pro undeniably more feature-rich. It seems perfect timing for Adobe, whose application is now easier to migrate to from Final Cut Pro 7 than is Apple’s. I’m still learning FCP X and I think it has a ton of potential, but at the very least, Adobe has to be happy with the missing features in FCP X that everyone’s complaining about. So let’s take a look at one feature both video solutions are touting highly: automatic camera stabilization.

In posting this test, Steve Forde at Adobe says, “both After Effect’s Warp Stabilizer and FCPX stabilization were left to the default settings of stabilization and rolling shutter removal. No tweaking was done whatsoever.” Here’s the video comparison between the two:

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Yes, the After Effects one looks smoother. The FCP X video has a jump in it that After Effects corrects. However, this test is also a good example of the divide in Adobe and Apple’s (new) philosophy: Adobe’s stabilization requires a separate motion graphics app, while Final Cut Pro X’s is built-in. Adobe has more advanced tools but the workflow and speed of Apple’s (at least in use, by not having to take it out to a separate app) is more streamlined. Still, the inability to share FCP X timelines with other apps is a deal-breaker for team-based MGFX work — for now. Or you can spend $500 on Automatic Duck’s Pro Export FCP plugin, in order to get an exportable timeline out of a $300 program.

As an editor and sometimes-MGFX person (out of necessity), I’ve spent the time to build up a working knowledge of After Effects. I used it on The West Side to erase bystanders and smoke-billowing tractors in the background in order to make New York City look empty (and to hang gangsters). Until FCP X talks to other applications, that knowledge is basically useless, and for version 10 of an application, that’s a damn shame. Perhaps in killing off Final Cut “Express,” Apple should’ve also killed Final Cut “Pro” — and just left us with Final Cut X.

[via Steve Forde at Adobe]


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Description image 25 COMMENTS

  • pretty much no contest there

  • Better than both (despite a super dated website):,l-us.xhtml

    Try it and tell me its not true. This is usable right in Premiere or FCP – no need to go to AE for Premiere.

    • I’ll did a small compare of After Effects Warp stabilizer and Mercalli. And from my personal point of view I prefer Meracalli. It’s faster and works in Premiere Pro

  • I see the difference in philosophy, but that still doesn’t cut it… I would rather use two programs to get my end product to look professional, rather than doing the editing equivalent of “slapping some duck tape on it” and being ok with a bad looking product…

    • English Speaker on 07.8.11 @ 10:36PM

      Duck tape, ay?

      • Actually yes it is ‘duck’ tape… One of the better brands of gaffer tape out there imo.

        • Dude. Duct tape, and gaffer tape are totally different things. One comes off without residue, one is almost permanent. One can be used on cameras, mixers, etc. One will leave so much goo you’ll never get it off.

  • I did some test on this too:
    I thought the FCP X stabilizer was better in handling the distortion as compared to the warp stabilizer in CS 5.5. I think the stabilizer was the only plus in FCP X, all else was a fail.

  • Using the default settings is not really a useful or valid comparison. How about an in depth comparison, using optimal settings in both Applications?

    • Both tools tout their one-click simplicity as an important feature. With any stabilizer, you can go in and tweak individual keyframes for a good result…

  • “and for version 10 of an application,”
    Has anyone confirmed it is version 10? Jumps from 7 to 10 without the customers knowing. I was under the impression that is was a reboot not an upgrade. That X was not a roman numeral but simply a new title.

  • Lance Bachelder on 06.25.11 @ 1:08AM

    Let’s STOP all this nonsense about parity between FCP7 and PPro5.5! I was on the beta team for PPro for 4 versions and it was a terrible experience. Talk about a group that doesn’t listen to pros! FCP7 is a true pro tool that can deliver feature films and TV shows like butter. PPro can’t do either! Yes it has a nice interface and some cool features but PRO means being to get PRO work done day in and day out. The color tools alone make it utterly unusable!

    As far as installed base – FCP has WAY more actual users than PPro! Abobe is counting every version they sell in the suite which very few “pros” I know even install or open! Yes we all love Photoshop and After Effects – they’re insanely great apps, but including PPro in the box doesn’t mean you’re converting users.

    As far as FCPX, time will tell but my guess is a year from now it will be loved and used by the same pros that are crying now – unless they’ve gone over/back to Avid.

    • Lance,

      Have you used the final version of CS5.5? I had significant issues with Premiere Pro CS4 and others have told me that CS5 (and 5.5) are far more stable. Curious to know if you’re still having issues with the latest version.

    • I agree. There are many more issues at stake here than a direct comparison of the two at this point in time. Firstly, FCPX is version 1. People can get all upset, but they may be jumping the gun. Apple have already stated in quite clear and categorical terms that the “pro” features will come with updates. Secondly, Adobe keep on putting out information about their Mecury Playback Engine (MPE) that only really refers to Windows based GPU’s. If you’re on a Mac, read only a MacPro, then you will still need to get a fairly expensive GPU to get any benefits out of this at all. So for the rest of us, long waits on render time. FCPX’s background rendering is pretty good in comparison. Thirdly, Photoshop and After Effects are great but if you want the package you’re up for some hefty money and then the upgrade cost of half year so-called full version upgrades is a bit rich. Here again, Apple has set a new paradigm regarding pricing. And last but not least, FCPX may lack certain features now but the potential is there as is the speed and this will suit the ever growing market that only needs to target internet based audiences. And you only need to look on your iPad to see that this is a growing market that includes professional broadcasters.

  • vashi nedomansky on 06.25.11 @ 6:35AM

    I’ve used FCP since v3 and PP since CS3. I now use CS5.5 exclusively and have never been happier. I’ve cut dozens of Shane Hurlbut’s projects as Lead Editor of his Elite Team and have had exceptional performance, successful integration with AE and PS and basically fun while editing. CS3 and CS4 versions of PP crashed or glitched out if someone shut a door too quickly. The time and storage needed to transcode for FCP7 (and the gamma shift headache) slows down the workflow too much for my taste. Since CS5 and the mercury engine came out it’s been an incredibly stable platform that let’s me focus on the story and not fret about the machinery. Now that FCP7 is EOL, I’m even more secure in my choice of platform. Since Shane shoots so much 5D, I needed a NLE that just gobbles up h.264 and lets me do my job. End of the day, use what works best for you and tell the best story you can.

    • Vashi
      Love Shane’s work and his enthusiasm. I know he’s a huge Adobe advocate but will be very curious to see what happens in a year or so, once (hopefully most if not all) of the shortcomings of FCPX are addressed.

    • Marshall Harrington on 06.30.11 @ 3:17PM

      Assuming PC platform rather than OSX? I’m finding PPRO 5.0 not as nimble. How much better is it on a PC if that’s your platform. The Mercury/GPU abilities look pretty nice.

  • vashi nedomansky on 06.25.11 @ 9:00AM

    That makes two of us Eco!

  • Paolo Tramannoni on 06.25.11 @ 1:44PM

    Editing PPro materials in AE is very transparent. Yes, the clip is sent to another app and then back, but you don’t even notice it. Integration within the suite is very well made.

  • Its probably worth comparing like for like
    An auto setting in fcpx isn’t the same as warp stabiliser
    A single tracker done in motion and applied as stabilise motion behaviour does a much better job always did

    While we are talking of stabilisation the one that trumps them all is mochapro

  • Adrian Graham-Smith on 06.27.11 @ 6:14PM

    Am I missing something here? FCP 7 already has this feature (video filters>video>SmoothCam), and as far as I can tell, Apple’s new version is just as prone to warping (no pun intended) the image as it is in FCP 7. I agree it’s a pain to have to go into AE to smooth shots out, but to my eyes it’s doing a much better job of it, at least at this stage.

  • I’d have to say that the FCPX file above is unusable. However, the AE file looks great and the bad effects are not noticeable to the common user. In using smoothcam in FCP7, I find that it only works about 25-40% of the time. I’m interested to try out the other software that is mentioned here.

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