Drone stability has come a long way in recent years. With today’s technology, most drones have built-in gimbals and stabilizers that do a pretty good job getting rid of shakiness when flying. But, after all, drones are flying hundreds of feet in the air at up to 40 mph, so it may be impossible to keep the camera completely steady sometimes. Especially on a windy day, even the most experienced pilot using the most advanced technology might run into some problems. While it is best to remove as much shakiness as possible in camera, often times we don’t notice it until post-production. There are more advanced programs, but I’ve found that the quickest and easiest way to fix small amounts of shakiness is by using the warp stabilizer in Adobe Premiere pro.
First thing’s first, go out and get some footage. Keep in mind that this stabilizer is not going to fix 100% of shakiness, and using too much of it can warp your video to the point where it looks weird. There are some things that cannot be fixed. Try to fly as smoothly as possible and avoid jerky movements. One feature that can be helpful when trying to fly smoothly is Tripod Mode, which slows down all of your drone’s movements.
To begin, import your footage into Premiere Pro. Crop it down before stabilizing, because the longer the video, the longer it will take to analyze. Click on the Effects panel, and search “Warp Stabilizer.” Drag that effect onto the desired clip. Premiere will now analyze each frame of your clip, so this may take a few moments. When it is finished, evaluate how well the default settings stabilized your clip. Sometimes, this is all that needs to be done! But if something still doesn’t look right, there are a few settings you can change:
- Result: Smooth motion or no motion. “Smooth Motion” will keep the motion of the camera, but make it smoother. Use this option if the camera is moving in any direction.
“No Motion” will mimic a tripod, and try remove all camera motion from the clip. The only time to use this is if your drone was not moving in any direction, but the wind kept it from keeping perfectly still.
- Smoothness: This percentage changes how strong of an effect you would like to apply. Often times, anything past about 30% begins to look Jell-O like and unnatural, so use the smallest amount necessary to get the desired amount of stabilization.
- Method: Position, Position scale rotation, perspective, subspace warp. This section specifies the complexity of the stabilization, from the most basic (position), to the most complex (subspace warp). Premiere will attempt to use the option you choose, but if it does not have enough tracking points, it will default to the next best option. The more complex options can sometimes cause unwanted warping and distortion, so sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out which one will be best for your video.
- Auto crop: Premiere will automatically crop off a bit of your footage so that there isn’t an awkward black border around it. You can adjust the amount that it will crop automatically, and how much additionally you want cropped, if any.
And that’s really all there is to stabilizing in Adobe Premiere. Again, there are much more advanced forms of stabilization in other programs such as After Effects that can address things like distortion in a shallow depth of field, but with drone videos, the biggest issue is shaking because of wind, and Premiere does a pretty good job of correcting that.
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