Stabilizing Footage

It’s no secret that After Effect can stabilize footage based on a single point for position and another for rotation with the “stabilize motion” feature. If you have a somewhat static shot and need to “lock” it off, this method can be helpful for holding this shot in place. However, what about if your footage has a dolly movement or the camera man is walking around? How can you stabilize footage that doesn’t stay in one place?

Well there is a way. Using some of the powerful techniques (with permission) from Mark Christianson and his expert book on After Effects, I plan on showing you a few ways to “smooth” out footage but without changing the shape or movement of the shot. Imagine being able to simply remove fast bumps or jerks in a shot without affecting the natural feel of the cinematography.

I plan to demonstrate several examples and solution but I’m curious if people have come across this subject while working in After Effects…

We’re not blowing up buses or traveling through time with this tutorial but I can tell you this technique by Marc just impresses me thoroughly and I look forward to presenting it.

9 years ago
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5 years ago
I hope these tutorials stay around for a long time to come.
Thanks AK!
Sounds like something I need to read.
7 years ago
how to aviod jerk while paning any pictures or mivies
7 years ago
Just wondering if this tutorial ever got put up? I am really in need of it right now! Please help...
tedy necula
7 years ago
I have a question. How can I stabilize just on single axe

Let's say I want to stabilize vertical (big jitter from shoulder camera) but leave the horizontal one to not be forced to scale, just to add a letterbox for top and bottom spaces left after vertical stabilization.

Thank you!
9 years ago
the tutorial is made by David Basulto, he also credits Marc Christiansen for this find. :) hope this helps some of you for now... I can't wait till Andrew puts his hands on it!!!!! (...please:)
9 years ago
Yes, a video tutorial would be awesome! ... but for now you might want to check out this tutorial I just found on google:
9 years ago
Would be a great tutorial. Could I request that you put something in if it's possible. I'd like a slider to control the stabilize effect. I'd hope that a little coding could do this. I have a project where I want to have a handheld shot which then becomes stabilized, then goes back to handheld. Motion has a slider control like this, but you can't animate it, which is a pain. Keep on making the tutorials & I'll keep on buying them - Twitch looks great.
9 years ago
Yeah Buddy, do it! I think you're impressive, so if you think this technique is impressive, then I really want to see it. I'll be waiting for it. Thanks for all you've taught me.
9 years ago
really usefull tutorial.I will pray to Allah almghty for your growth.Thank you
Andre Schteckham
9 years ago
Yes. Please.
9 years ago
I too would love to see this tutorial. With the amount of caffeine I drink in a day, getting that steady shot while moving around is always a chore. This would be a great help.
9 years ago
Please Andrew i REALLY NEED this tutorial, it's just the thing i have to do right now with a piece of footage and i'm stuck!


9 years ago
You just found out this technique...? Wow...
Diego O.
9 years ago
I can't wait for it, Andrew!!! Keep it up!!!!
9 years ago
Hi andrew and crew.. ;b i really love your tutorials. ive learned a lot.. in just a week i already know how to use after effects. before i was afraid to explore it. thanks a lot ;b keep it up ;b
9 years ago
Thanks for highlighting this book. It seems Stu Maschwitz, who I'm also a fan of, is a contributor. I picked it up and its full of good stuff.
Alex T
9 years ago
Hey Andrew.

This isn't about the subject above but about a movie.
When the new Indiana Jones movie are you gonna try to make some effects from it? If there is any cool effects.

//Alex T
9 years ago
oh~ plz do this tutorial~ i've been trying to use stabilize motion for my footage for ages but as u can guess it's been filmed on a trolly which makes it real pain ~
VOH Sean
9 years ago
I actually got a Steadicam Merlin w/arm and vest back in November, so I should be okay with all future projects concerning shaky footage requiring to be stabilized in post. . .

. . .But, in the meantime, I've actually been using Shake to stabilize shaky shots, AE for everything else. I haven't had time to play around with Motion, since I, along with so many others, learned to composite on AE first. Still, would be great if you had tutorials for both, as it would give me a reason to use Motion, which is supposed to be really good alternative to AE.
9 years ago
Andrew, I can always track the footage for stable.. fine. But it always jerks a little, I know that everyone doesn't have an HD camera, and I have stablized HD footage alot easier than SD, (both at 24p). I am very interested in seeing this tutorial when it is released. I have some pretty bad footage coming everyday that they want more stable.

for the record apple motion sucks compared to what AE can do.
9 years ago
It would be awesome if you make a tutorial about this because I have a project in school and for this project we filmed something and it's a bit unsteady.

So if you make this tutorial within the next 2 months (better 1) it would be perfect!

btw you are awesome andrew, thanks for the tutorials
9 years ago
Excuse my english :)... I think it's a great idea. I know that a steady cam etc would be the best solution to stabilize motion but if you can do it in post will be just great. I can't wait a tutorial!
9 years ago
I have to do that for a short film for the university, the shot was a travelling and I had to stabilize it... it looks very wierd because some things move in the frame and some things dont...

thank god it was a strange "arty experimental" thing and it looks like it was made on pourpose.

but it wasnt... hehe

cheers dude, I'll look forward for this one
9 years ago
Great idea Andrew cant wait! And Mark's book is excellent too, wouldnt have dreamed of buying that book a year ago, but now makes so much sense since Video Copilot tutorials have shown me the way! His 3D camera stablize technique is first rate and works like a gem!
9 years ago
Hey Andrew, I watched CLOVERFIELD the other day and that got me wondering about how on earth they got all those special effects into such shaky, moving footage. Or would the camera moves all be recorded to computer from the camera and imported into the software? I have been thinking of doing my own cloverfield style film but comping effects into shaky and moving footage has put me off!
9 years ago
This would be SUPER USEFUL. I don't think we need to cover special effects in all the tutorials. A stabilize motion tutorial would be just as valuable. I can't wait.
9 years ago
This kind of stabilization, is made by creating a camera and applying keyframes and after that, in graph editor modify the keyframes and play with curves,
and there is alos simple expresstion that we can use.

So where the footage shakes the camera inside AE gonna move and tries to smooth it. So we got physically camera move inside AE.

just a little hint

9 years ago
Hey Andrew,
Love the tutorials.
I was tring to do this late last year but couldn't figure out how.
We've got a scene where there is a lot of dolly work, and some of the footage is not good.
I really need help on how to stabalize it.
It's to painful tring to adjust the footage keyframe by keyframe.

Thanks Dude
9 years ago
Your welcome lifetype and I agree Andrew doesn't need to change a thing!
9 years ago
Sweet. I've been waiting for a Kramer-Christiansen duet!
9 years ago
Andrew, you should ask Mark Christianson to monitor the spike in Amazon orders, just ordered one of the books today.

With your recommendation I know I can't go wrong, and I expect many others may feel the same.

9 years ago
Yea I could've used this technique in my video I just got done filming, but o well haha I guess I can use it in the next.
9 years ago
WOAAA i really was looking for a good tutorial on stabilizing!!! PLEASE PLEASE make one!! i'm really frustrated by not knowing how to right now!!
9 years ago
John johnson thanks for posting that video it was cool .
to the guy saying andrew should do tutorials like fxphd .
.That is ridiculous i have one of there lessons called after efects beyond the basics
and it was complete garbage. andrew smokes those guys by a Fawk*ng MILE
. ive learnd more from andrew then i have from all the paid tutorial dvds ive seen
ANDREW IS IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN . dont change a thing bro
9 years ago
I saw him explaining this at fxphd classes,
but he was not clear as you are andrew.

keep going.
9 years ago
Wow! your tutorials are very very helpfull! I was looking for a lava lamp effect, is it possible to do using after effects? Thanks thanks thanks!
9 years ago
i have that book:D
9 years ago
I read Mark's book in less than a week. Opened my eyes up to a lot of different approaches than the ones I'd been taking.

I'm interested to see how you will put a spin on some of Mark's ideas.

To the others, it is definitely worth reading Mark's book if you already have a firm grasp on AE. This isn't a beginner's book.

9 years ago
great news and the red name of the post when you make a reply it's pretty cool, looking forward for this (the Stabilizing Footage not the red name heh)

keep up the awesome work
9 years ago
wooohoo im so looking forward to this
9 years ago
Hey Andrew... when do you make the 3D reactor tutorial???=) I mean every tutorial is cool, but I really would like to see the reactor tut!!!^^
Andre Monteiro
9 years ago
Hey Andrew! You are my mentor here in Japan as its so hard for me to find information as a forener here.
I have tried stabilizing in AE and with steadymove too but the biggest problem i find is with the zooming wich takes out a lot of the quality.
If there is any work around with that it would be great.
One thing that i found that helps is filming and capturing in HDV, stabilizing and converting to SD.
Thanks for such great work!
9 years ago
Wauw, awesome.
I'v been trying to do this yesterday evening, but without succeeding. So i hope you can show us how to do :)
9 years ago
Hey there.
First post here :)
Love your work, thank you very much.

Seems like a very useful tutorial, I'll be more then happy to watch it.

thanks again.
9 years ago
Yes, this would be very useful for a lot of situations. I came across this problem several times. Thanks a lot for all the tutorials!
9 years ago
I would love to learn this technique. I think that this tutorial will be very usefull to everyone.
9 years ago
As I'm still on the clock for my work & get paid for Friday Feb the 29th - i've just purchased it with my extra wonga! Although it looks aimed at users who are more comfortable with After Effects, hey why not aim high.....
9 years ago
Imagine standing on the deck of a 60 foot boat, 6 foot seas, chasing a widely jumping 800 pound Marlin, while going backwards at 15 knots. You betcha I could use this.

I have read Mark's book from cover to cover, twice and missed this. I do like his 3 pass approach to keying though.

Andrew - Maybe if you and your wife, sorry the kid stays home, would like to fish Panama for a week and you would be willing to be visual effects supervisor, read person who does the work or teaches me how, for some short films, we should talk.
9 years ago
Looking forward for the tutorial Andrew. At the moment I am using Mercalli which is like $60 and it does its job well. Check the web page for video examples:
but as I said looking forward the tutorial, I'd watch it even if it was "how to blow your nose to a napkin" It's not only learning, it's also a good fun. Thanks Andrew. :)
9 years ago
i found it in the serious effects and composting in the dvd thanks.
9 years ago
2D3 Steadymove is really good. If you can spare some cash, it's worth it. I recently tried it out on some REALLY shaky handheld homevideo stuff and it worked great. It didn't seem to scale the image up very much either.

There is another plugin called proDAD Mercalli. I haven't tried it, but it looks pretty decent.

If you have a good way to do without plugins, that would be great.
9 years ago
I have already used stabilization under AE with SteadyMovePro plugin to (that we can say: in extreme conditions) stabilize rollercoaster ride! I got some good results in very short time (using default configuration). But, I'm curious to know how to get same or better results with standard AE stabilization.

Once again, thanks Andrew!
9 years ago
YES YES YES!!!!! DO IT! I NEED IT! I've been courios about this for a long time!
9 years ago
I am working with a shot now that this would come in very handy... So Great News!
9 years ago
In searching a while back for greenscreen tracking I came across a tool out of London called SteadyMove (from the makers of Boujou), requires some hand-holding but brilliant customer support and quite a good plugin:

Ryan Smith
9 years ago
I came across this problem at work. I was doing a dolly in with a static subject, but the floor was somewhat uneven. Thinking that I could just stabilize it, I didn't take too much worry to it, but shot a static image with a slow zoom just in case. Good thing I did, because the track wasn't having it. Suddenly the footage would jump off screen as if I suddenly lost the track points. Tried it several times, but alas, to no avail.
Sand to Glass
9 years ago
I was thinking about buying that book. I just did, thanks Andrew!!
9 years ago
I actually ran into this same problem on a project last summer. I had a kind of dolly shot, moving around a paint bucket sitting on the ground. Only problem was I handheld the shot. The side to side motion was fine, but I wanted to steady a couple of the vertical bumps. What I did was stabilize motion with rotation, but I only applied the effect to either the Y or X axis, not both. I can't remember right now because I'm having a mind fart, but whichever one would stabilize vertical movement.

It wasn't perfect, but it worked good enough for what I wanted. I'm curious to see what you've got cooking.
9 years ago
Almost every shoot we do has a take that is perfect except for an errant camera doink.
A cable gets pulled etc.
I'd love to know how to fix them.
9 years ago
I would like to see that tutorial, Mr. Andrew. I have tried a plugin called Deshaker:

It's ok, but I think you can do better.
9 years ago
I'm curious about the Motion method. I think I'll check it out.
9 years ago
I'm currently working on a project that was shot on dvx 100b's and the client asked to remove the shakiness and reframe the shots at a 320x240 resolution so that made stabilizing a little easier.

However, the client also asked to remove some zooms so I referred back to your demon face tutorial and added a scale tracker. I talked with Dan Ebberts on the cow forums and almost got an expression to work but couldnt get the expression to effect both scale values (height and width). it would only effect one so eventually i gave up haha. anyways, have you had any experience or insight on this?
Juan (future visual FXs artist)
9 years ago
That's Andrew That will be very helpful :D
specially if you don't use(or have) a tripod. ;D
9 years ago
I would love for you to cover this in your next tutorial. This has actually been on my mind for several months, just havn't had to shot to experiment.

9 years ago
"If you have a somewhat static shot and need to “lock” it off, this method can be helpful for holding this shot in place. However, what about if your footage has a dolly movement or the camera man is walking around? How can you stabilize footage that doesn’t stay in one place?"

I never did it, but wouldn't it be helpfull to take the stabilized footage, parent it to a null, and animate the null properly so the pan(or whatever) is visible?
Peter Wong
9 years ago
Yeah I actually have his book, and it's really good.
LT. Smash
9 years ago
I think this tutorial will help a lot of people Andrew. I know this technique very well though, however, I think everyone else should too. Mark is one of my professors at an online VFX school I'm going to right now and I had the pleasure of learning some amazing techniques from him in the last three months. I think it's beneficial to everyone to learn anything from Mark and yourself, so bring it on.
zlatan ibrahimovic
9 years ago
I would love a tutorial like that, I'm actually about to shoot a scene this weekend were a smooth subtle dolly-move would be perfect, but since me and my friends are all out of dollys, we'll have to do with a subtle move, UNLESS our AE god are good to us and does a tutorial about it! hell I even slaughter some sheep for ya.
9 years ago
Awesome ! i'm sure that this one will be as helpful as all the others!
keep up the good work Andrew !
9 years ago
this book is for CS3, are there any diferences beetween the 7.0 edition and cs3?,3110,0321385527,00.html
9 years ago
I am definitely looking forward to this one!
9 years ago
I wonder if boujou is useful for a better stabilization, not just for 3d, because in the export settings it has an option for saving in after fx format.
9 years ago
We’re not blowing up buses or traveling through time with this tutorial but I can tell you this technique by Mark just impresses me thoroughly and I look forward to presenting it.

A taste of things to come? Come on you can say it............
9 years ago
Typically, I'll always look for a solution in AE before going to an external applicatoion, but sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do to get the shot done.

Last week I had to stabilize a 40 foot trucking move of a jib on a dolly and iStabilize 2.2.3 from pixlock really helped me out with an initial track.

It's not perfect, but It can get a shot going in the right direction if AE's tracker can't hold the track point. Instead of tracking based on a point, it does a difference calculation based on the edges of the shot from frame to frame.

I just with it could export the tracking data to a null in AE instead of rendering a movie. Anyway, it's another solution to look into if you need it.

Thanks, Andrew.
9 years ago
I think that would be fantastic.
9 years ago
This would be an awesome tutorial. Been looking for this around the internet for a long time. Didnt find anything useful.

Would be much appreciated ;)
9 years ago
I've wondered/speculated that it was possible with after effects... look forward to seeing how it's done!
9 years ago
Mate, that sounds grouse. I often get footage of speedboats shot from another boat which can be a real pain stabilzing the shot. Also helmet cam footage from Mountain bikes and moto's.

I get some pretty good results, but the effort sometimes isn't worth the result. I'm more than confident you and your team can give me some pointers that I just haven't worked out yet.

Thanks VCP and friends.
9 years ago
It'll be nice to see your take on this. I've encountered a lot of problems with trying to stabilize footage in AE in the past. The biggest problem I've encountered is a shoot we did where we didn't have our regular camera man. We were filming at 24p and the guy shooting it kept bumping the camera all over the place. I tried to fix it, and did manage to stabilize the motion, but the bumping of the camera had caused motion blurring and needless to say, once stabilized, it created a very odd effect of "still motion blur". I don't think that there'd be a fix for that, but if, by chance, you know one, I love to see you briefly cover that.

As always, thanks for sharing you expertise with the rest of us, and thanks for your DVDs. They've have been a godsend to me! I eagerly await the advanced training DVD.
9 years ago
andrew, tell me do you read my mind?
lol thanks again for sharing!you're the best!
9 years ago
Good, that is really good
9 years ago
I came across this techinque a few years back when I noticed Ryan Wieber's website ( which is how I got into AE in the first place. They used it a lot in RvD and I have to say its a useful technique IF you make sure the motion tile technique isnt obvious or worse, there are black bars apparent, because often with violent shakes obviously the image is moved by the motion tracking and you end up with the same old problem - you could always just scale up the footage, but thats only realistic if you've got good quality footage to start off with - e.g. high definition.

9 years ago
did some stabilize with shake during the holydays and came up with some issues, nothing really bad but after stabilizing a shot it always came out flickering, the footage was interlaced, could be the cause i guess! will you're technic prevent that too??
9 years ago
Since two months Im reading this book. Its not a Book for beginners, it goes really deep into AE sometimes.

To be honest, im reading it for the second time right now, but now I beginn to see "The big picture" ;)

The Projects and Techniques in this book first seem to be very subtle, but if you beginn to understand how it works, this book is a powerfull weapon, worth every Eurocent ;)

AK: Please show us some Tricks with the Tracker! To me its one of the crapiest tools in AE, adobe really has to refresh it!
9 years ago
Just what i was thinking about the other day! "how to stabilize shot taken with dolly"
Would be a helpfulwith tutorial for me Andrew!
9 years ago
Good For Him..
9 years ago
I belive this will be usefull cause when you record your movies there can sometimes be a bump or something that you dont see untill you are going to edit the movie in AE. A tutorial of what you were talking about seems fabolous
9 years ago
Don't come across this much in our line of work and if we do, we use Apple's MOTION.
It is very good at stabilization and smoothing out footage. Much better than AE. However, AE is our main choice when doing motion graphics.

Speaking of motion graphics, the DEATH MAN - Fun with 3D Shadows and the likes are what is most required and asked for by clients.

Will we see more of this stuff?

Thanks again for everything Andew!
9 years ago
I'm very excited to see this. I've tried different tests through AE but with minimal results. Can't wait to see what you guys have
Juan M Duque
9 years ago
Im from colombia, and i would love to see that, just about two weeks ago I came across a situation quite like that one, when i tried to stabilize a dolley shot in wich we used to much Tele to increse the depth but we had no tripod so there was a lot of movement. I wasnt able to do it, i lost the dolley movement i had to use a different shot!
9 years ago
I was just trying to stabilize some footage in After Effects this week, but I didn't really find a good way..
As I was walking backwards with the camera, some of the tracking points become invisible after an amount of time. I hooked up about 5 tracking nulls to solve this, but then I only had the traking data in nulls.. Then I thought I'd use your backwards tracking method you used in the demon face warp tutorial, but I didn't really succeed..

Looking forward to this one :).
9 years ago
yeh hes called Mark Christiansen, and hes a proffessor over at FXPHD where im a postgrad, what i like about mark, is that he dosent nessesarily show tuturials on how to do a specific effect like blowing up stuff, but he explains techniques that you would use in ur daily work, and thats what i think you need to do more andrew.

I really hope you will do more tutorials like ur earth quake, sky replacement etc.

Morten Christensen
9 years ago
its great andrew i came across this and i didnt know how to explaine what i want or dare to ask you ,but now i know all i have to do sit and wait .some answers comes from no where wow.thank you.
9 years ago
i would love you to demonstrate that. I have a similaer shot (walking in a crowded street) but the shot is realy bumpy and not usefull.
Since i have no glide cam its nearly imposible.

I understand the shot wil look like this but without the 'hardware'?
9 years ago
I've had to (attempt to) stabilize footage like that several times. Would greatly appreciate a tip that makes this a more procedural process. Thanks for all you do! I send everyone I talk to to your site and will continue to support (financially) the Copilot!

Viva la Copilot!
9 years ago
I would like to see this one and I will be looking into buy the book from Mark Christianson :)

I like to use my Cam hand held alot so this may help me or I should start using my tripod hee hee


"I call it a guide layer" lol lol
9 years ago
Yiiiiihaaaaaa ! Thanks Andrew and thanks Mark. =P
9 years ago
But I would appreciate the blowing bus tutorial :)

Anyway thanks for everything you are doing for us.

Josh J. Johnson
9 years ago
Hey Andrew here is a brief tutorial that Mark did over at Fast foward to the end Mark talks about fixing the stablize motion. This is very a fast tip and would be cool to see in one of your tutorials!
CraZy DonKey
9 years ago
Sounds great. It will come in handy because I always seem to have a "TWITCH" when shooting footage.
Some Guy
9 years ago
That would be a cool tutorial. I already had that problem of removing fast bumps in After Effects. I manually stabilized the footage with keyframes and it took a lot of time to make it look natural.
You don't need to blow up buses or travel through time in your tutorials. Once in a while a more theoretical tutorial (like your Frame Rate Converter) without fancy effects is great too. The best visual effects are those you can't see. ;)
9 years ago
Anything that can smooth out my pap camerawork is very welcome...
9 years ago
Andrew, oddly enough I was musing this issue two days ago while reviewing some footage and trying to think of a work around when do `tracked` scar tissue on an actor. I will be intrested to see how you get over it. I have tried stabalise and track (ala: demon warp tute) but the results were not 100%, mainly due to the fact the footage was shot not thinking about tracking FX in post.

BTW very cool tute number 60. subtle stuff which can go a long way in a quick shot.
9 years ago
sounds interesting i hope it will become a tutorial but um so what about twitch ?
9 years ago
ps. will it become a tutorial?
9 years ago
I think something important to note if you plan on doing any post-production smoothing is to shoot with a faster shutter speed to reduce the any motion blur. Smoothing footage with a lot of motion blur looks really icky.
9 years ago
cool second comment
great topic
9 years ago
Not to bash After Effects or anything, but Apple's Motion kicks AE's arse in this department. AWESOME stabilization/smooth tool.

Still keen to see how you handle it in AE though!

That's pretty much all I ever use Motion for... AE is my preference for everything else.