(Update: For details of improvements to the Warp Stabilizer effect in After Effects CC (12.0), see this page about the Warp Stabilizer VFX effect.)
Perhaps the most exciting new feature in After Effects CS5.5 is the Warp Stabilizer effect. This effect automatically stabilizes a shot, removing unwanted motion.
Chris and Trish Meyer review the Warp Stabilizer effect on the ProVideo Coalition website, as well as providing a very detailed and absolutely crucial set of video tutorials on Adobe TV. Please, watch these videos before using the Warp Stabilizer:
- introduction to the Warp Stabilizer
- basic properties of the Warp Stabilizer
- advanced properties of the Warp Stabilizer (mostly about synthesizing edges)
- using the Warp Stabilizer to stabilize a background, not a foreground
Video2Brain provides a set of videos about stabilizing motion:
- extended overview of Warp Stabilizer effect
- details of Warp Stabilizer effect controls
- using the point tracker (legacy tracker) for stabilizing motion
- brief overview and demonstration of the Warp Stabilizer effect
Video2Brain also provides a video specific to using the Warp Stabilizer effect in Premiere Pro CS6.
Mark Christiansen also reviews the Warp Stabilizer effect as part of an overall review of After Effects CS5.5 on the ProVideo Coalition webiste, and he gives some basic instructions in a video on the Lynda.com website.
Yes, there have already been features—both in After Effects and in other software—that have provided motion stabilization capabilities, but these have been more labor intensive and not as capable of dealing with various problems that come from undesired camera movement.
If you’ve ever used other motion stabilization tools, you know that the stabilization process results in gaps around the shot as the layer is moved to compensate for unwanted camera motion. The conventional way to deal with these gaps has been to scale and/or crop the shot, losing information and resolution. The Warp Stabilizer effect provides the option of synthesizing edges, filling in the gaps around the edges with image information from previous or subsequent frames. Advanced parameters provide a high degree of control over how the edges are synthesized and the gaps filled in.
Another problem with conventional motion stabilization techniques that merely move and skew an entire layer is that they don’t deal with the problems of parallax—the changes in perspective as a camera shifts its position relative to the foreground subject and the background. The Warp Stabilizer analyzes many, many points in each frame and determines how to subtly distort (warp) the image to remove unnecessary motion and remove these artifacts of parallax. Rolling shutter artifacts common to HDSLR cameras can also be diminished.
The Warp Stabilizer effect is the outgrowth of the work of many people, including university researchers and members of the Adobe research team. Jue Wang gives some insight into the technology leading up to the Warp Stabilizer effect here.
For details of all new and changed features in After Effects CS5.5, see this page.