ReelSteady works like magic. So will it make stabilizers disappear? Let’s take a look at this potentially game-changing new After Effects plugin.
When Adobe unveiled warp stabilizer just a few years ago, the possibilities were endless. No more buying multi-thousand dollar rigs. No more wasted time on set. You could very easily fix it in post. But then we actually tried warp stabilizer and the results were not amazing. In fact, they were quite the opposite.
Filmmakers soon found out that the warp in warp stabilizer was referencing the way in which After Effects and Premiere were going to fix the shaky footage. If you throw warp stabilizer on your footage, you’ll soon see weird warping around the edges that make it nearly impossible to use in a cinematic context.
This is where ReelSteady comes into play.
ReelSteady is a plugin for After Effects that is used to stabilize shaky footage or get rid of rolling shutter in your footage. The initial results recorded in their software demos are quite impressive and it would seem like this software could make it smooth out even the most shaky footage. Or at the very least it could make it possible for an artist to get by with a simple camera rig and fix the rest in post. Here’s a few initial tests from ReelSteady.
How it Works
As far as functionality goes, the After Effects plugin works in a very similar way to warp stabilizer, but with some added goodies. For starters ReelSteady has a built-in rolling shutter repair tool that works long side its built-in stabilizer.
ReelSteady is designed to be a two-pass effect. For example, after you run the effect the first time you will probably want to smooth out certain areas. In the effect, you’ll be able to isolate certain areas to “iron-out” portions of the clip.
This explainer video from ReelSteady gives a quick overview of how the plugin works:
The results from ReelSteady speak for themselves. It is an absolutely incredible tool that produces amazing results. Take this footage of this wing suit jump for example. Here is the footage before ReelSteady:
And here it is after ReelSteady:
As you can tell, the results are night and day different. Here’s another example using an RC Plane. Before:
Implications of ReelSteady
If ReelSteady works as well as the test footage implies, it could be a major game-changer in the industry. Namely, it could make it possible to never need a stabilizer. As a filmmaker, you probably know a few proper ways to hold a camera… but if you can simply stabilize it using a software in post, you could potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and precious on-set time.
To get the full benefits of ReelSteady, you will want to record your footage at a larger resolution than your desired output. For example, you might want to record in 4.6K or 5K if you want to output your video to 4K. That way you have a little wiggle room for ReelSteady to do its thing.
Our Initial Reaction
Like shaky footage, there are a lot of things to iron out before ReelSteady is ready to hit the market. When we downloaded the initial beta it crashed every time, so we were unable to successfully use it. However, we fully expect this plugin to work when it hits the market. You can currently pre-order the plugin for $399 on ReelSteady’s website or download a free 30 day trial.
ReelSteady currently only works for After Effects CC and CC 2014, but the developers are currently working on a CC 2015 update.
What do you think of this new plugin? Will it reshape the way that indie-filmmakers think about stabilization? Share in the comments below.