Digital post-production has come a long way since the Avid machines of the early 90's. Among the myriad post production tools that have surfaced in the past few years, none is more of a potential life-saver than Adobe's Warp Stabilizer. However, despite the fact that it is fairly easy to get decent results with the plugin, it takes a little bit of know-how and practice to make Warp Stabilizer do its best work. Luckily, Jeremy Bircher over at the soon-to-launch story-driven stock footage hub, Story & Heart, has offered up the most comprehensive breakdown of Warp Stabilizer yet. Check it out.

First and foremost, the process of becoming a power-user of Warp Stabilizer requires that you become accustomed to all of the various modes with which the plugin analyzes and corrects your footage. They are as follows:

  • Position: Stabilization is based on position data only.
  • Position, Scale, and Rotation: Stabilization is based on position, scale, and rotation data. If there are not enough areas to track, Warp Stabilizer chooses the previous type (Position).
  • Perspective: This uses a type of stabilization in which the entire frame is corner-pinned. Again, if there are not enough areas to track, Warp Stabilizer chooses the previous type (Position, Scale, Rotation).
  • Subspace Warp (default): This attempts to warp various parts of the frame differently in order to stabilize the entire frame, as if it's trying to isolate shaky parts of the image and then make them stable by distorting the pixels in that area. Again, if there are not enough areas to track, Warp Stabilizer chooses the previous type (Perspective).

Here's a visual example of how all of these different modes work on your footage:

It's important to note that Warp Stabilizer always defaults to the Subspace Warp method when you apply it to your footage. A good many people just stick with that option, as they assume that it will provide them with the best results. However, each of these analysis and correction modes work best in different situations.

Here's one example where the results from Subspace Warp make the corners of the frame undulate and zoom in and out awkwardly, an effect which is highly distracting in spite of the stabilized center of the frame. In this example, using the Perspective method provides the best results, especially after the "Detailed Analysis" option is also turned on. In most cases, the best results will come from having Detailed Analysis turned on, but this comes at the expense of longer wait times with footage analysis and rendering.

One of the toughest problems to fix in post-production is camera shake, an issue that often arises with footage from car-mounted cameras. In this next example, Jeremy goes through the process of removing camera shake so that the audience can focus on what's important, the people in the car and their interactions.

Lastly, one of the absolute best uses for Warp Stabilizer is to stabilize and smooth aerial footage. It's a tool that is uniquely capable of making shaky footage smooth, and smooth footage even more dreamlike. In this last example, Jeremy shows the best settings for making your aerial footage shine, and well as talking about the option of Smooth Motion vs. No Motion.

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to both the settings and practical uses of Adobe's Warp Stabilizer. For more in-depth analysis of this fantastic plugin, head on over to Jeremy's post on the Story and Heart blog.

What do you guys think of these Warp Stabilizer examples? How have you used Warp Stabilizer in your own work, and what settings have you used to get the best results? Let us know down in the comments!

Link: Smooth Operators, Understanding Adobe Premiere's Warp Stabilizer -- Story & Heart Blog