Plan A was to use a well damped video tripod from a sitting position and film the band from the front; if you can get smooth video right, right from the start then do so, you always save time and trouble. Plan B was to use an on camera stabiliser, a cheap and cheerful version of the film-makers steady-cam, but this was thwarted due to my inexperience with the device and limitations to movement on stage which was more cramped and cluttered than expected. So I shot hand-held with a view to steadying the footage in post production, something I had done previously with some success.
The footage was all SD, shot using two Sony cameras, one static so no stabilising required, and a second main camera hand-held, so lots of stabilising required.
Stabilising outside the camera is possible in a few software applications - After Effects, iMovie and Apple Motion amongst many. I have access to After Effects and Motion so I started their learning curves after some initial research into stabilising in general and use of the the above applications in particular.
After Effects displayed it’s usual full blown, in depth competency and I had some success early on but only with the least unstable and shortest clips. I found out AE comes packaged with a little application called Mocha which does the stabliser thing ‘for a living’. But there were just too many steps and too much learning involved for someone who doesn’t use the tool regularly, added to which, the clips I wanted stabilising were long and complex which didn't suit After Efects.
Both AE and Motion it turns out need either a ‘point’ or a ‘plane’ within the video frame which requires stabilisation to ‘focus on’ and I had neither. There was also too much 'going on' and too much movement which I wanted to retain.
Apple Motion 5 then. This has been my only impulse purchase from the Apple App Store to date and struggles a little on my oldish MacBook Pro. (On a side note I am beginning to hate the word ‘app’; this is a part of the continuing dumbing down of machines which I decry.)
Aaagh, (slow)Motion or what. I could just about cope with the long tracking times but altering keyframes or any other adjustments was painful. Motion also seems to require either a point or a plane to focus on like AE. So no.
After a little more investigating I came across iStabilize (sic). The programme seemed a little cranky and idiosyncratic in both nature and review, but I can relate to that, more importantly, most reviewers gave it the thumbs up when it came to performance. A few trial runs with the demo later and I went for it knowing that at least one other project in the offing would need a little stable attention.
It works fabulously well, quickly and efficiently. Excellent results with a minimum of learning curve. These are the main steps required to get going with a clip:
- Start iStabilize then:
- File/Open - the video file you need to stabilise.
- Movie/Format/Auto Detect - this will only take a moment.
- Stabilizer/Track Motion - this seems to happen in real video time, in other words at around 1 second per second of video with SD footage.
- Stabilize/New Edit Session
The finished movies, all stable, edited and tweeked look like this: