August 30, 2015

Meet ReelSteady, a Video Stabilization Plugin That Really Does Its Job

If you're staring at some shaky footage in post wishing that it could look a little better, it can -- in fact, it can look a lot better.

No, you don't necessarily need to purchase a pricey handheld gimbal to smooth out your shots. Robert Mcintosh and his partner, both former Light and Magic VFX pros, have created an After Effects plugin called ReelSteady that takes a new approach to video stabilization -- and their results are pretty damn magnificent.

Check out their demo video below. (The shot of the ferris wheel compares no stabilization, the Warp Stabilizer, and ReelSteady.)

Here are a couple of before and after videos, too:

ReelSteady was designed with the GoPro in mind, but it will actually work with any camera/lens combination -- and yes, that includes action cam wide angle lenses. They don't elaborate on the "new approach" they take in terms of stabilization, but whatever it is might be the reason why the examples they've shown thus far don't look warped -- but that's just speculation.

Features

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Fully integrated into Adobe After Effects
  • Advanced rolling shutter removal
  • Built in lens distortion correction
  • Adjustable smoothness value
  • Choose between static or dynamically animated cropped result
  • Set custom output resolution
  • Re-stabilize duration tool for refining problem areas
  • Use any of After Effects' built in masking tools to guide the stabilization
  • Save and load presets for all of your camera/lens combos
  • Presets for GoPro cameras included

For those who are big fans of the Warp Stabilizer, you might need a little bit more from ReelSteady to be convinced to shell out $399 for their plugin. First of all, the Warp Stabilizer comes standard in After Effects. Second, WS is a powerful stabilizer that is outfitted with plenty of professional tools that'll get you fantastic results. The rub? Warp Stabilizer can make your footage look -- warped. 

So yes, ReelSteady footage looks absolutely amazing, but seeing some kind of comparison chart putting its features up against those of WS (as well as other plugins) would really help potential users feel a little better about parting with the large chunk of change they're asking for. However, you can't deny that, under the right conditions, ReelSteady can make your shaky footage look truly remarkable.

Check out ReelSteady's website to learn more. They've got a bunch of tutorials, too, to show you how everything works.      

Your Comment

31 Comments

It's crazy how good that actually looks and without warping or any of the usual issues. Would love to see a stress test of the plug-in, yeah, compared to Warp Stabilizer.

August 30, 2015 at 10:37PM

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Andy Zou
Producer
Filmmaker / Creative Director

Hi Andy,
I just made some warp stabilizer versions of the above videos and we are working on getting them into our gallery page. In the meantime here are the direct link to those videos. https://vimeo.com/137807144 https://vimeo.com/137807123
And here is a warp stab version of the first video on our gallery page. https://vimeo.com/137808180
The best comparison is of course going to be the one you guys make with your own clips where you can dial the settings however you want. We highly recommend downloading our free demo, watching our short tutorials and having at it.

August 31, 2015 at 3:27AM, Edited August 31, 3:31AM

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I wish the video would've had more comparisons with Warp Stabilizer. Because $400 is a bit but if it gets rid of the Warp in Warp Stabilizer, it might be worth it.

August 30, 2015 at 10:42PM, Edited August 30, 10:42PM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
982

Hi Zachary.
I've uploaded some warp stabilizer comparisons for you guys. Please see the first post in this thread. Thanks for your feedback.

August 31, 2015 at 3:31AM

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I wonder how this compares to Lock and Load which is much cheaper and works better than warp.

August 30, 2015 at 10:43PM, Edited August 30, 10:43PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
575

Don't be fooled by anything other than the first video, which looks pretty decent I might add (not for $400 though). The other videos play back the example in slow motion, which inherently gives the perception of smoother motion without even adding stabilization. It's an old trick, shoot HFR and playback will appear smoother. The latter examples are dishonest.

Something like http://steadxp.com/ looks much more interesting to me and seemingly worth the investment. Also, the examples are much more honest.

August 31, 2015 at 1:04AM, Edited August 31, 1:04AM

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Jon Brumbaugh
Director of Photography
74

All of the examples are of drone footage, a more effective example would have been bad handheld shots. Stabilizing drone footage isn't nearly as challenging from my experience.

August 31, 2015 at 1:28AM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
575

Hi Brad,
We tried to include a wide variety of shots in our demo video as well as the videos in our gallery http://www.reelsteady.com/pages/gallery for this reason. You will see not only drone shots but, helmet cam, selfie stick, handheld, hyperlapse, even a dog mount shot to show some of the possibilities. I'm sure this is only the tip of the iceberg compared to what uses the community will dream up for this new tool. We urge you to try the free demo for yourself. We think you will definitely like it.

August 31, 2015 at 2:04AM, Edited August 31, 2:05AM

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Hi Jon.
Thanks for your interest. We had decided that showing the before of the 100fps surfer shot played back at 24fps slow-mo would be a bit boring, so we opted for the realtime version. I've just uploaded a slowmo version for you. have a look https://vimeo.com/137804602. Also if you would like to see the real time stabilized skateboard video to compare it with the before, it plays directly after the slowmo version. Skip to 3:48 in that video.
We felt that the best way for you guys to evaluate whether the plugin was any good or not was to make a free demo available. We urge you to try the free demo for yourself before you draw any conclusions. We think you will definitely like it.

August 31, 2015 at 1:57AM

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Was so inspired by the demo videos.
Just downloaded and shot a couple of handheld clips at 30fps with 1/100 shutter. In all cases Warp Stabilizer looked better. (Tried different smoothness settings). Maybe with hours of masking and fine-tuning it could beat the WS, but in real life we can't risk to shoot something serious without handheld stabilization gimbal, anyway.
And the price of your plugin is really close to good offerings like PILOTFLY H1.

Speaking of "Pretty sweet intro", i might be wrong but it looks like some sort of software shake was added to the original footage, to make it look more complicated to stabilize.

And about this ferris wheel footage. Looks like WS was put to 100% smoothness, to look really warped. Usually lower settings (1%-12%) produce significantly better results.

And the main advantage of WS is the fact that it works directly in Premiere.

August 31, 2015 at 3:57AM

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Viktor
83

Thanks for your feedback Viktor.
It is a different workflow for sure and it takes some getting used to. That's why we strongly recommend watching our tutorials before getting started. One of the things we talk about in the tutorials is lens and rolling shutter calibration. Were you able to watch the tutorial called "Camera Calibration" and calibrate your camera properly?

August 31, 2015 at 4:17AM, Edited August 31, 4:21AM

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Yes, i have watched. But haven't calibrated it, to be honest. It was a 50mm lens on a Canon crop sensor,
that combination is not very distorted by itself.

The result looked more similar to what Mercalli does - less warped, less steady than Warp Stabilizer.

Maybe i will try it one more time with more care about calibration and settings and with my 10-18 wide lens.

Someone should do an independent comparison of ReelSteady to Mercalli and to Warp ;)

And i think that integration to Premiere is essential for me to use it every day. Please consider making a PR version in the future.

August 31, 2015 at 5:11AM, Edited August 31, 5:13AM

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Viktor
83

Hi Viktor.
Thanks again for the feedback. Premier is definitely on the to do list.

August 31, 2015 at 11:00AM

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Hi, very interesting plugin, as a wedding filmmaker this could be very useful. I find the price steep though, don't know if I would want to pay that much. Premiere is a must though.

September 2, 2015 at 4:51AM

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Gerbert Floor
DP / Director / Camera / Editor
297

I definitely thing they exaggerated WS to look bad

August 31, 2015 at 7:14AM

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Before we ran WS, we needed to put 3d text in that shot so we had to remove the fisheye first. Maybe that is what you are responding to? you would get the same sort of results from warp stabilizing a wide rectilinear lens.

August 31, 2015 at 11:04AM

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I had doubt when i first saw that warp stabilized footage from after effects. That looked too bad to be true. So I downloaded the unstabilized footage from reelsteady.com and tried it myself. I am using after effects cc 2015. Without even changing any settings, or enabling detailed analysis, basically dragging and dropping the warp stabilizer, the results are far better than what reelsteady claims to be. Sure reel steady seems to better than warp stabilizer but I think they are also making warp stabilizer look worse than it actually is.

August 31, 2015 at 7:10AM, Edited August 31, 7:10AM

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I would have loved for this plugin to kick ass, no matter how much it will be in the end. But after using the demo .. I got nothing but jiggly results. And yes, I watched the tutorials .. and I am aware of all the functions it offers. But somehow I can´t get close to what their amazing results show in their clips - strange. Sad. Strange - the same shot with Warp Stabilizer gives better results.

August 31, 2015 at 7:17AM

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Steffen Hacker
Director, VFX Supervisor
167

Hi Steffen,
Thanks for your feedback. I would love to see the shot you are having trouble with. Maybe I can help figure out why it's not working for you. That could really help us make improvements to our tutorials. Give us a shout at support@reelsteady.com. We'd love to help.

August 31, 2015 at 10:37AM

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Hi Ege.
The examples we made with warp stabilizer were on the default settings in After Effects CC 2014. All we did was apply warp stabilizer, and that is what we got back. The only difference I can think of is that you are using a compressed web rip that does not have all the frames. Most of our footage is shot at 48fps or more.
The only other thing I can think of is in the very first ferris wheel shot of our demo reel the "before", "warp stabilizer result", and "reelsteady result" all have had their fisheye undistorted so that we could add 3d text. You may be trying to stabilize the "fisheye version" of that ferris wheel shot?

August 31, 2015 at 10:42AM, Edited August 31, 10:49AM

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I stabilized this version https://vimeo.com/136596342

First I applied WS in after effects cc 2015 without any tweaking. The results were already much better than your warp stabilized version. Then i tweaked the settings, turned on detailed analysis, 15 percent smoothness instead of 50, rolling shutter reduction etc. The result was almost on par with Reelsteady except when the drone goes inside the ferris wheel.

August 31, 2015 at 1:06PM

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Ahh, I see where the mix up is. You are warp stabilizing the fisheye version and in our demo we are warp stabilizing the rectilinear (non fisheye) version. Which was a requirement to have 3d text in the shot. If you take a look at our galley page you can see more examples of both fisheye warp stabilized clips as well as rectilinear ones and the before and after videos to compare them with.

August 31, 2015 at 1:36PM

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Any chance on a CS6 version?

August 31, 2015 at 10:16AM

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Hi Eric.
There are definitely plans for a CS 6 version. Stay tuned for that.

August 31, 2015 at 10:38AM

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I definitely will. Spending $400 is a bargain if it can pull off some hyperlapses I couldn't with warp stabilizer.

August 31, 2015 at 11:18AM

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Is it just me, or does anyone else remember that "Santa Monica Airlines" clip (from the pier/ferris wheel) being FAR smoother when it first came out 18-24 months ago? Unless ReelSteady already existed in 2013, this feels like some reverse-engineering shenanigans. The "before ReelSteady" shake looks like my "shake" that I add in post sometimes.

August 31, 2015 at 1:11PM, Edited August 31, 1:11PM

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David Lavender
Content Creator
74

Hi David,
Reelsteady has been in devolpment for a long time. If you count some very early prototypes, over four years now. Santa Monica airlines uses one of these earlier versions. We've made many improvements since then, so if anything the stabilization should be getting better, not worse. You should also note that brushless gimbals had not even become widely available when that video was posted.

August 31, 2015 at 1:31PM

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Why is the "Pretty Sweet Intro" before video in real time and the final video slowed down? How is that a true before/after? Footage that's over cranked is almost always going to appear more smooth than footage playing back in real time.

ReelSteady can you release your raw before footage so we can do a true comparison?

August 31, 2015 at 6:20PM, Edited August 31, 6:33PM

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Ernie Gilbert
Director
8

Hi Ernie,
The realtime version of the pretty sweet video plays directly after the slow mo version. Skip to 3:48 in that video.
There are a bunch more comparison videos on our gallery page as well. The best comparison is of course going to be the one you guys make with your own clips where you can dial the settings however you want. We highly recommend downloading our free demo, watching our short tutorials, and having at it.

August 31, 2015 at 6:50PM

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ReelSteady looks amazing!
There are however interesting alternatives, other than the Adobe Warp Stabelizer. Take a look at momoworld.com, they offer a AE plugin that allows you easy and full control of what and how to stabelize in your footage in combination with Mocha AE (included in AE Creative Cloud).
MochaImport+ retails for $ 49.

September 1, 2015 at 4:00AM, Edited September 1, 4:00AM

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I think you mean mamoworld.com.
Great plugins!

September 2, 2015 at 11:21AM

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