Friday, April 15, 2011

Stabilizing footage on the cheap with VirtualDub and DeShaker

So, I recently shot some helicopter footage... handheld. It has a raw feel to it that I like, but I wanted it to be smoother so I could speed it up without it looking like a Keystone cops action scene. I've tried to use After Effects (CS3) to stabilize footage, but it takes forever and produces some ugly-looking moving black borders.

Enter VirtualDub and the DeShaker plugin. Here's my tests:

First time:

Second time:

Pretty cool, yeah? So, a fellow Vimeo member sent me a message asking for my settings. Since he was using an AVCHD camera, I directed him here first:

And then the rest of the reply:

Stop when you get to the section called "Deshaking :". If your video is now loaded (successfully) in VirtualDub, continue. If not, then you should probably export your footage over to an .AVI format using your usual editing program (Vegas, Premiere Pro, etc.) and load that into VirtualDub.

1) Go to the Video menu, and select "Filters". click "Add", select "DeShaker", click okay. This will get you to the DeShaker controls.

2) Make sure you have "Pass 1" selected. If your footage is interlaced (I think yours is), make sure to select that in the "Video Type" menu.

3) Set "Scale" to "Full (most precise)". Set "Use pixels" to "All (most robust)". Uncheck "Detect zoom". Click "OK", then "OK" again to close the Filters window.

4) Make sure your footage is at the beginning, then hit the F5 key, and watch as the calculation pass runs. :) It may take a while...

5) When it's done, open the Filters window again, select the DeShaker plugin and click on "configure".  Select "Pass 2". Set the "Edge compensation" menu to "Fixed zoom (no borders)". Click "Ok", then "Ok" again.

6) If you have enough hard drive space to use uncompressed video (around 400 GBs per hour), then go to the File menu and click on "Save as AVI". If you don't, make sure you go the the "Video" menu then click on "Compression" to set a different video compression format (that your video editing program can use).

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