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Smoothcam Alternative For Final Cut Pro/Express Users By Heath McKnight

Do you own a copy of Final Cut Express 4, or maybe an older version of Final Cut Pro, like version 5.1.x? Have you seen how awesome FCP 6`s SmoothCam feature is in removing shake from camera shots (see a before-and-after comparison in my FCP 6 review ) and wished you could do that in FCE 4 and FCP 5? Well, wish no longer! Pixlock`s iStabilize can do the job!

It`s a Mac-only standalone app that costs around $59 (I`m going off a price I found online, because at its site, it`s all Euro pricing), and it`s easy to use, but not as easy as dropping SmoothCam on a clip and letting it analyze in the background while you keep working in FCP 6.

It is easy to use because you open a clip, run Track Motion (found under the Stabilizer menu item); then you create a New Edit Session (also under Stabilizer), where you do your fine-tuning as it creates a Control Track. I left everything pretty much at default settings, but I HIGHLY recommend you read the manual that comes with the app.

One note: set the Zoom, under Edit Session (or Track) to Full, so it`s the entire frame size and you won`t have any problems. At the end, you select Finish Edit Session (under Stabilizer) and Export the movie, and the settings are very much like QuickTime Pro or the Export settings in Final Cut. If you notice some black bars, you can eliminate them completely by setting the Safe Tolerance to Zero (0).

No stabilization

With SmoothCam


I was impressed with the results, though I was a bit conservative with my stabilizing. I will keep experimenting until I get the look I want, but I still think its great compared to the original and holds up well compared to the SmoothCam version, which is outrageously smooth!

As for video support, I could open clips in formats including DV, DVCPRO HD (from a Panasonic HPX500), QT Movies created in Apple ProRes 422 (you can export clips in FCE 4 and FCP 6 in that codec), and HDV (1080i60 and 50i). I don`t have AVCHD footage, so I couldn`t test it. Also, the tests I did were done with 24p footage without a pulldown (and it played back smoothly in FCE, because the program added in a pulldown, apparently. However, you can`t remove pulldowns from 24p footage packed in a 60i stream).

Visit to download iStabilize and try it out, see if it`s right for you. piStabilize is a plug-in for iMovie HD 6 (sorry, iMovie HD 08 users, but it`s not compatible; then again, a lot of iMovie users have stayed with iMovie HD 6) that you can also try out. iStabilize is a great app for stabilizing video if you don`t own Final Cut Pro 6, and I easily imported the clips into Final Cut Express 4. I don`t have version 3.5, but I`m sure since HD is supported, you`re fine.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:NLE, stabilizer, smoothcam, video editing

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