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Combustion Eye for the AE Guy

Are you stable yet? By Stephen Schleicher

Got a shaky shot that is driving you (and your producer) nuts?  Wish the videographer would have heeded your advice and used a tripod?  Dont throw the shot out, stabilize it. In our latest installment of Combustion Eye for the AE Guy, we explore Motion Stabilization. 

I cant even begin to count the number of times I have told my students to use a tripod when they are out shooting.  As is the case, they often come back with footage that is less than stellar, but could have been fantastic if only they had used their sticks.  Motion stabilization can fix this and in discreets combustion 3, it is a very simple process.


Since you are familiar with After Effects and are making the shift to combustion 3, I wont go into a lengthy description of what Motion Stabilization is.  I have written about this many times for AE users and the information is the same regardless of the compositing application being used.

Step 1:  Create a New Workspace by pressing Command+N on the Mac (Control+N on the PC).  Make a new Composition and name it Stabilizer.  In this instance, I am making the duration match the length of my shaky shot (7:00) and using the same format as original source footage (NTSC DV).

Click OK

Step 2:  Import your shaky shot by pressing Command+I on the Mac (Control+I on the PC).


Step 3:  With the shaky layer selected in the Workspace, apply the Stabilize 1 Point Operator from the Operators>Stabilize menu. 

Stabilize 1 Point is ideally suited to correct problems with unwanted motion on the X or Y (or both) axis.  It acts exactly like the Stabilize Position option in the Tracker Controls of Adobe After Effects.  Stabilize 1 Point does not correct rotation problems in footage.  I am using Stabilize 1 Point for now to demonstrate how easy it is to do this in combustion 3.

Step 4:  Highlight the Stabilize 1 Point Operator in the Workspace and click on the Stabilize 1 Point Controls Tab.

The first thing we need to do is position the Stabilize Point control in the comp window.  You can do this by either entering the numerical values in the X and Y axis windows, or by clicking on the Stabilize Point Crosshair.  This will display a White Crosshair in the comp window.  It is important that when you are moving the crosshair that you are using the White Crosshair and not the Yellow Anchor Point Crosshair.

In this image, the yellow crosshair represents the anchor point for the layer, while the white crosshair represents the Stabilize Point crosshair. The blue crosshair is your cursor.

You should ideally position your Stabilize Point near the center of the layer.

Once you have the Stabilize Point set, you can move on to the Mode setting.  There are three different modes you can select that tell combustion how to deal the tracking data.

The default Mode is Shift.  This mode acts just like you would expect After Effects to work it applies an inverse position to the Stabilize Point to keep that point anchored in place.  With this option it could easily lead to the image being shifted out of the comp window, thus showing the background underneath.  This is what happens in After Effects as well.

The Fit Mode resizes the layer so you never see the edge of the frame.  In After Effects you would have to manually scale the layer in order to correct this.

The final Mode is Wrap.  This takes the edges of the frame and wraps them to the opposite side.  This is similar to the Offset effect in After Effects.  Personally, I have not had the need to use this feature (and really cant see a need to ever use it), but it is there if you ever discover a need for it.

For this portion of the exercise, leave the Mode to Shift.

The Resize Image option is only available in Composite operators, and extends the effect beyond the edge of the image.

In this example, we are simply going to Shift the image around the screen.  This will lead to the edge of the frame being visible to the viewer. 

The Borders and Border Color allow you to change the color and transparency of the edges.  So that the effect will be seen more clearly on this website, I will change the Border Color to Orange.

Now we are ready to turn on the Tracker and begin stabilizing our footage. 


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Related Keywords:motion stabilization, shaky camera, combustion, after effects, discreet, adobe, schleicher, combustion eye for the ae guy

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