How to Make Smooth Drone Video in Adobe After Effects
It is common for drone video to be a little less than stable, especially as we track a subject in a shot. Lucky, we can fix this problem in post with scale and position techniques in Adobe After Effects. That’s what you’ll learn in this tutorial. Make sure to download the 4K example clip included in the project file so you can follow along!
1. Use the Stabilize Motion Effect
To start we are going to use the Stabilize Motion effect on our footage. (Stabilize Motion is located in the Tracker window in After Effects. If you do not see it, go to Window>Tracker to make it appear.) Next, position the Track Point on the subject you would like to track. (In our case it is the boat on the example clip.)
After the track finishes, you can re-position the boat to the center of the shot
2. Resize the Footage Comp
Now you may notice some black areas on your footage where the footage is moving outside of the frame. Luckly for us we are using 4K footage, which is common for drones. What we can do now is resize the footage composition down to 1080p resolution. Right-click in the grey area next to your footage and select Composition Settings. Adjust the height and width of the comp to 1920 x 1080.
Now the black areas around your shot should be gone (because they were cropped out of the shot.) You can level the horizion line of your shot if you need to by selecting your footage and adjusting the rotation. (Press ‘R‘ on the keyboard for this shortcut.)
3. Engage the Warp Stabilizer
Alternatively, if your shot you are trying to stabilize is moving forward (and may have ‘jello warping’ artifacts on the footage) you can use the Warp Stabilizer option in the Tracker window. You will need to tweak the settings to work with your specific shot, and this setting will take some time to analyze on your footage, but it can give you good results you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.