The Best Warp Stabilizer Settings For Adobe Premiere and After Effects CS5.5, CS6 and CC

Warp Stabilizer Overview

Most shaky footage comes from a lack of control of the camera and is especially prevalent in DSLRs due to their small size.  The form factor and weight don’t lend themselves to a steady shot which is why you often see DSLRs decked out with full shoulder rigs, weights, and setups that resemble something more appropriate for fishing than stabilization.  With the popularity of DSLRs as well as the smaller sizes they are making cinema cameras these days, it makes sense that they would need help in software if you want to have any hope of shooting handheld.

One of my favorite new effects included in Adobe After Effects CS 5.5, CS6, CC, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the Warp Stabilizer.  For many years if you had shaky footage your only option was to either spend hours tracking a moving object in After Effects with keyframes in the hopes of it working properly, or learning how to use an expensive plugin software such as Mocha.  Thankfully, Adobe realized there was a need for a much quicker solution that would work for the majority of the clips being filmed in the world today.  Thus, Warp Stabilizer was born and now stabilized footage is only a quick click away.

The good news is that Warp Stabilizer’s default settings work for the majority of the clips that you throw at it.  If you have a decent clip it will usually make it great, and if you have a great clip with maybe a slight bump in it, (think slider with an uneven bit of railing) it will make it look perfect.  All the computing, tracking, and general analyzing happens in the software and you end up with a great clip in around 1 minute.  But, this post isn’t for those people that just throw it on and have it work.  This post is for two kinds of people, those that like to tinker and want the best possible looking clips with ultimate smoothness and stabilization, or those that have thrown the Warp Stabilizer Effect on a clip and had it result in Jello, distortion, and rolling shutter.

I found that I often deal with Jello and distortion on my clips when I am shooting handheld and if my camera rotates even a slight bit.  I believe this Jello distortion is due to the way the Effect software analyzes the clip.  Simple explanation: Warp Stabilizer actually analyzes the entire clip in 3D space and is able to tell which objects are in the foreground and background.  Sometimes it has issues with differentiating which is where I believe the Jello distortion becomes evident.

The following are the settings I would recommend trying out if you are wanting to remove the Jello distortion effect from your clip.  These settings are applicable to both Warp Stabilizer in After Effects CS5.5 and CS6, as well as Premiere Pro CS6.

To add Warp Stabilizer to your clip in After Effects CS5.5 and CS6, select your layer that you want to apply it to, and go to “Effect > Distort > Warp Stabilizer.” In Premiere Pro CS6, select your clip you want to apply it to and go to your “Effects” window and select “Video Effects > Distort > Warp Stabilizer” or search for it in the Effects search box.

I will go through them in the order that I usually try when I run into problems with Warp Stabilizer.  Each clip you film will be unique and there is no guarantee Warp Stabilizer will treat each one the same.  While it is always better to film your footage as stable as possible, having the ability to fix your clips that have problems is wonderful.

Settings to Fix Jell0 and Distortion in Warp Stabilizer

By default, Warp Stabilizer chooses “Smooth Motion” – 50%, with a method of “SubSpace Warp.”  Your video borders framing will show “Stabilize, Crop, Auto-scale”.  If you’re running into problems of your clip becoming distorted and looking like Jello, I would recommend the following methods to try and clean it up.  If one does not work, try the next until you are satisfied with your clip.

1. Click the “Advanced” arrow and check the “Detailed Analysis” box.  This will require you to re-analyze your footage and it will take longer than before, but sometimes this is a quick fix.

Detailed Analysis

2.  Click the “Advanced” arrow and adjust the “Crop Less <-> Smooth More” percentage from “50% down to 5%” in increments of 10.  For example, change it to 40%, let it stabilize, then check the footage if its improved.  Each time you lower this percentage the video will become a bit more shaky, but it will introduce less jello into the image.  It is helpful to turn this down if you have just a slight amount of shaky-ness (perhaps due to handholding your camera), and you want to smooth it out.

Crop Less Smooth More

3.  Click the “Stabilization” arrow and change “Smoothness” from 50% to 5%.  This reduces the smoothing that Warp Stabilizer will attempt to apply to your clip, and while it will result in a slightly more shaky shot, I find that my shots often don’t need that much smoothing.  This often cuts out a lot of the distortion and Jello effect.  

Smoothness

4.  Click the “Advanced” arrow and change “Rolling Shutter Ripple” from “Automatic Reduction” to “Enhanced Reduction.”  This setting is usually only helpful when dealing with Rolling Shutter introduced from the CMOS sensors used in DSLRS and other popular digital cameras, but it doesn’t hurt to try using it.

Rolling Shutter Ripple

5. Click the “Stabilization” arrow and change “Method” to “Position.”  Then click “Borders” and change “Framing” to “Stabilize, Synthesize Edges.”  With this setting, Warp Stabilizer will actually create new edges for your footage from existing pixels.  As long as it isn’t being forced to make up too much information it usually does this very well.  The tradeoff is that I almost always have to render my clips before viewing them because of the enhanced processor power required.  Try using Synthesize Edges while changing the Smoothness percentage.  This usually fixes the Jello/distortion in my shots when nothing else will.

Synthesize Edges

Hopefully by changing these Warp Stabilizer settings your video will look distortion and Jello free.  Keep in mind though that each video clip is different and will require a different technique.  There are plenty of other settings to tweak when using Warp Stabilizer, be sure to experiment with them as well.  Let me know in the comments below if you find another great Warp Stabilizer technique.

For a video tutorial on some of these features, check out the videos on Adobe TV.

Please let me know if this tutorial was helpful to you and if you have any questions you can contact me or leave a comment.  If you are interested in how other Premiere Pro Tutorials, check out “How To Export HD Video in Premiere Pro CS6, CS5.5, and CS5 for YouTube and Vimeo,” or my “Premiere Pro :: 2:35:1 :: Cinemascope/Anamorphic Crop Settings & PSD File Tutorial.”

It is a big help to me when you use any of the above product links to Adorama, Amazon, and B&H and when you get anything. It costs you nothing, and helps me keep my site running. I have bought from all of these websites and I highly recommend them for their service, quality, and shipping speed.  I recommend them all personally.

43 Comments
  1. You are amazing, thank you for this! Couldn't find a clear and easy explanation of this anywhere else!!!

    • The jitters are a result of motion blur from a low shutter speed. Film cameras use a shutter close to 1/30th of a second. Many DSLR's can replicate this shutter speed to provide a more film like look. If there is a lot of motion then the motion becomes blurred in the frame. This motion can come from shaky camera movement. If that motion is then stabilized – the image in the frame will not move, but the objects will become blurred from the motion blur. To fix this issue you need to re-film the video with a higher shutter speed.

      • Sorry Steve, but most of this is inaccurate. Film cameras are almost always locked at 1/48 of a second shutter speed which is called a 180 degree shutter of a 24 frames per second movie. Jitters are also more prevalent at higher shutter speeds such as 1/96 or 1/192. The lower shutter speeds such as 1/30 actually hide some of the jittery effect in the motion blur. What you say at the end though is true and maybe you're referring to what the filter is doing, but even that is kind of a bad nomenclature sort of thing. Ghosting or double vision is what the blurred frames would create when stabilized.

  2. Hi! I'm taking a bunch of home videos and taking the best clips and editing them into one long video. The clips have varying frame rates and sizes. The majority of the clips are 29.97 or 30p, and I want the output to be 1920×1080, so I know I want to make those my sequence settings. However, Premiere is telling me that I can't use the Warp tool on clips that don't match the sequence. Are there any workarounds or other options, or shouldI edit this one in Final Cut X?

    Thank you!!!

    • You could render the individual clips at the size that you want then re-import and put them all in a sequence that matches their settings. Then you could use Warp Stabilizer on them. I've had to do this before when I was wanting to warp stabilize a 720p clip on a 1080p timeline.

  3. Hi! Thank you for this guide, very useful. One question: After rendering, the audio is out of sync, even though the video is just as long as it was before the rendering. Why?? I render to lossless .avi.

      • It turned out it wasnt the Warp Stabilizer causing the problem. For some reason I had to transcode the footage before importing it to After Effects. Now it work fine!

  4. I get an error every time. It's hard to understand — and even Google. I have 15 seconds of GoPro footage at 1280×720, 60fps. I transcoded to 29.97 photojpeg seq to try and resolve the error. I followed every detail above here as well.

    Same result. "Warp stabilizer unable to obtain video renderer" is the initial error and "unable to aquire rendered frame" is the second error after bringing the transcoded footage.

      • After Effects. I cant imagine it would be different in Premiere but I could try it.

        It IS a rare error, because if you google it, there are not much instances of it and zero solutions. Like, what exactly am I talking about?

  5. Does anyone know how much you can auto scale 1080p footage to still be 720p? Some of my stabalised footage has been auto scaled up to 115% Whats the percentage limit before you loose HD quality?

  6. Why do I always get the extreme crop banner across the screen no matter what footage I chose…email is lvlik9@aol.com doI have to change a setting or what, I shoot with a dslr.

  7. hey matt. great tutorial.. very helpful.

    i have a question for you – can you stabilize a series of shots (i one block) as opposed to stabilizing each shot individually? the later is not an option in the project i am working on as i am compositing the same background into 10 shots and would like the this to be appear smooth … ie. i want the roto'd forground to cut a number of times whilst maintaining one very smooth background. the plan is as follows

    1. track the camera for each shot in boujou
    2. stich the cameras together in 3dsmax (there will be slight jolts as the camera changes direction, but that's ok)
    3. render one long background image (in 3dsmax)
    3. composite / for/backgrounds in after effects.
    4. then finally run it through warp stabilizer.

    the problem i am having is that warp seems to thinks that my edit is one piece of footage and there are some very strange things happening at each cut. if i stabilize each shot one by one then the back ground (which must be smooth) also "cuts" slightly as the scaling / warp for each shot is different.

    i hope you can make sense of this process? if not, that's okay… the crucial thing is that i need to stabilize everything in one go! 10 shots all together. any thought you might have a solution for me?

    i am new to AE so any help would be much appreciated.

    cheers!

  8. Great post. I had been trying to get this effect to work on footage which was quite stable, filmed using a good tripod and my 5DmIII and was getting jello (much worse than original footage). The real trick was moving smoothness down from the default 50% to 10%, combined with the detailed analysis setting. The result is now exactly what I was seeking.

    Thanks.

  9. Wicked tutorial mate. Helped me salvage a wedding when on rig after tripod packed up!
    Much appreciated!

  10. Brilliant! Being an FCP user this is the first time I have worked with Adobe After Effects and with your tutorial it worked a treat. Thanks for sharing.

  11. when I use Warp Stab. on Gopro clips the sentence in red 'Warp Stabilizer requires clip dimensions to match sequence (fix by nesting)'
    The warp stabilizer didn't do its work…

    • Read up on nesting sequences. example: If you mark the clips you want to be stabilized and right click, you can choose "Nest". This creates a virtual clip of those selected clips that allow you to run the warp stablizer, even if the resolution in the original clips differ from your sequence setting. single clips an also be selected and nested.

  12. None of it helped me either. Funnily, my clips that are really bad work great with warp stabiliser, and my almost perfect ones become jittery after using warp. Nightmare

  13. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for this post. I have a time-lapse warp stabilizer question to which I cannot find an answer. Perhaps you can help. My workflow is Lightroom -> LR Timelapse -> Lightroom (export jpg) -> Premiere Pro. My question is in regards to the image size for my lightroom jpg exports and if I can do some simple scaling to enable 1:1 pixel image output AFTER applying warp stabilizer. I'm using a Syrp Mini Genie on a weighted tripod, which results in some minor shake that I can remove with Warp Stabilizer (which defaults to auto scaled and shows a reading of 102.8% at 50% smoothness–I turn off auto scaling, but this means a 105% scale would handle the stabilization, and just leave it at 'stabilized, crop'). I'm exporting to Vimeo 4K, which is 3840×2160. So, is the best way to stabilize without scaling the jpgs in premiere to create two sequences, one at 3840x and one larger, say 105% (3840px * 1.05 = 4032px). Export the images from lightroom at 4032x, stabilize them in the larger 4032x sequence and then drop that sequence into the smaller 3840x sequence to get the crop w/o any scaling?
    Thanks, Jon

  14. Hi, what if analyzing and stabilizing takes 590 minutes to finish for 40minute clip, is it able to export the video without finishing it? Or it will display the blue banner "Analyzing in background (step 1 of 2)" after exporting? Thanks in advance.

  15. Hi Matt, if you utilize step 5. is that after doing steps 1 to 4? the clip locks up quite a bit after trying steps 1 to 5 in sequence. You mentioned rendering, can you share the specific steps you do to render when the clip your trying step 5 on is in middle of a sequence? Thanks!

Comments are closed.