Is Reel Steady the revolution for stabilization in After Effects?

by Joost | Last Updated: June 26, 2022
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With all GoPro cameras and other sports cams on the market, the need for good software stabilization is increasing.

Filming from a tripod still looks a bit static, and a Steadicam system complete with a professional operator is expensive and not always practical.

Unfortunately, After Effects‘ default stabilization falls short, and it just takes too long to get a good result. Is Reel Steady the plugin that will make tripods obsolete?

Is Reel Steady the revolution for stabilization in After Effects?

More than shaking

There are several factors that contribute to a choppy image. First of all you have the horizontal and vertical axis, in addition, the Z axis (depth) can also give a distortion in the image.

Apart from movement, you also have hardware problems such as rolling shutter effects, compression and lens distortion. Reel Steady claims to provide a solution to all these problems.

For sporty filmmakers

Reel Steady for After Effects offers specific profiles for GoPro cameras. This sports camera is widely used in situations where tripods are impossible to use.

Playmobil petting zoo stop motion
Playmobil petting zoo stop motion

Sports cameras often have a “Fish-eye” lens with a lot of distortion at the edge, the software can compensate for this.

Time-Lapse recordings are also a major challenge for stabilization software. Here you have images that do not match in image information, Reel Steady seems to handle this very well.

Incidentally, Microsoft has also developed a piece of software for exactly this type of Time-Lapse video clips.

High Resolution recordings desired

When stabilized, the entire frame will move in the opposite direction of camera movement. This causes the edges to shift, which necessitates zooming or reframing of the image.

Then it helps to film in 5K instead of 4K. Or scale a 4K video back to Full HD.

In fact, you have to take into account a result in one resolution lower than the original shot, or you have to stretch the image slightly with a slight loss of sharpness.

Reel Steady has one goal; stabilize. The plugin uses several techniques that work together and give you a tight result.

For videographers who often make energetic shots with a lot of movement, Reel Steady can be a good addition to a camera drone (top choices here) or gimbal stabilizer.

Because of the loss in pixels at the edges, it will not immediately replace a real steadicam operator, but it does offer the action filmmakers the opportunity to make a tight and professional production.