Crumplepop has come up with a solution for stabilising footage in post-production. It’s a direct competitor of Coremelt’s Lock & Load plug-in for Final Cut Pro X and a good one at that. BetterStabilizer works as a Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro plug-in. I tested the Final Cut Pro X plug-in and was impressed with the ease-of-use and the excellent results.
It’s understood that you should really start out with footage that is as stable as you can get. When this isn’t possible or you end up with unstable footage nevertheless, BetterStabilizer may be your best bet o fix things. BetterStabilizer has been developed by Crumplepop, but the plug-in is available from the FxFactory interface, which ensures it’s always updated to the last version without effort.
BetterStabilizer first analyses your footage, then automatically fixes it. The applied fix depends on the problem you select from the drop-down menu. You can choose from problems such as walking with your camera with no gimbal or stabiliser whatsoever, your camera mounted on a drone, vibrations, you handholding the camera while you’re standing still, etc.
A couple of other options ensure you have some control over the end-result. The most important control may be the slider, which allows you not to apply the fix at 100% all the time. In some heavily stabilised footage, the “liquidity” of the effect may be too much to your liking. In those circumstances, you can decrease the effect until you’re happy with the balance between choppiness and fluidity.
I tested BetterStabilizer with handheld footage without me having done anything to avoid camera shake when walking. I lost tried it with a camera mounted on my Rhino EVO slider, using an extension arm that I know isn’t suitable for mounting a camera. The footage shot with that thing vibrates so heavily, your stomach turns.
I compared the workflow, time to fix and results with Lock & Load as well. First of all, the time it takes to analyse the footage was roughly the same as with Lock & Load. It’s considerably faster than Final Cut Pro X’s built-in stabilising analysis. The workflow is different in that you have fewer options than with Lock & Load. For example, correcting for rolling shutter as well as stabilising problems is possible with Lock & Load, but doesn’t appear as an option in the BetterStabilizing plug-in.
Nevertheless, the results were quite a surprise. I expected Lock & Load to be superior because of it offering more controls, but I was wrong. BetterStabilizer didn’t magnify the footage as much as Lock & Load did. That made the results stay closer to the original. Also, while BetterStabilizer does introduce some kind of “liquidity” to parts of the footage when the camera was close to a nearby object and my movements were abrupt, it’s nowhere near as bad as with Lock & Load’s default settings.
I could make the Lock & Load results better in that respect, but it did require more fine-tuning on my behalf — which costs time. What BetterStabilizer is definitely better at is dealing with vibrations. The slider experiment showed that just analysing the footage with Crumplepop’s plug-in was enough to get rid of all vibrations the video clip suffered from.
Finally, BetterStabilizer is better suited for beginners s well. It doesn’t use jargon, but instead gives you options that immediately ring a bell. When you’re suffering from all kinds of distortions due to using a drone, it’s much easier to select an option that reads “Mounted on a drone” than “Stabilising and Rolling Shutter”.
In short, if you can’t afford one of the more sophisticated gimbals out there, BetterStabilizer is all you’ll ever need. In fact, even if you have such a gimbal, this plug-in may still save the day when unexpected stabilisation problems appear. BetterStabilizer costs around €45 ($49).