Just about all of today's digital cameras are capable of recording video. Most are also capable of taking very good quality HD video. But a similar problem arises for most people in that it's not easy to view those video clips. Many would like to combine them to single playable videos, but don't know how. Similarly many others would like to create their own YouTube videos, but also don't fully understand where to start. This site's tutorials are intended to help those people. ONLY FREE SOFTWARE are used in these tutorials. That way, the average person can get started and try what they've learned immediately.


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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Video Stabilization

Do people often comment that your videos make them sick to the stomach?  Well then, the problem might not be just the content of your videos (although it might).  When taking hand-held video, it's extremely important to try to keep the camera as steady as possible to prevent overly shaky videos that may make the average person seasick.  

Do your videos do this (click here) to people?

One way to help mitigate such shaking is to use a stabilizing rig (a.k.a "Steadicam").  There are many options for such a rig.   Some include gyros, and/or counterbalancing weights. Although effective, such rigs can be quite costly for the average person to afford.   A much simpler (cheaper) method is to use what's called a two-handed stabilizing rig.  It's simply a camera mount that allows two handed steadying of the camera.  Also the rig is designed to increase the distance from the hands to the camera to mitigate the effects of hand shake.     

Director Sam Raimi used such a rig filming his 1981 movie "Evil Dead".  His rig was simply a two-by-four board with a 16mm camera strapped to the middle.  It required two people to hold the rig, one on each end of the board.  They would then run to the film's characters, keeping the rig/camera close to the ground.  The effect of such technique can be seen in this clip from the movie (especially watch toward the end of the clip).  There's still some camera shake, but the end result is pretty effective.  

Filmed with a 2" x 4" (no-kidding!)

You can build an easy to use single-person rig by using your own imagination.  Keep in mind that your rig should include two-handed grip, and some distance between the camera and your hands.  Here's an example, built from PVC pipe and fittings.  It costs less than $5 materials, and is extremely easy to build.  I've built one of these for myself, and really like it.  No PVC gluing is required as the pieces/fittings hold together well by friction alone.  As such, you can easily disassemble it and take it with you on travel.  

Build your own Stabilizing Rig for $5

Most camera's today also include built-in image stabilization.   These stabilizers are most effective for still photography.  Video hand shake normally exceeds the capability of these stabilizers for video.   But when used in combination with a stabilizing rig (such as the above), video shake can be greatly reduced.

Don't expect miracles with a stabilizing rig.  You'll still need to concentrate on steadying the camera as much as possible through your hand movement, and also through your feet movement.  Try holding your arms with a 90 degree bend at the elbow.  Also imagine that you're balancing books on your head when walking with the camera.

If all of the above fails, and you still end up with shaky video, your next option is to consider software stabilization.  Most low-end or free video editors (including the ones listed on this site) do not have such capability.  Additionally, software stabilization can be extremely tasking on your computer's abilities, taking hours to achieve for slower computers with limited RAM.  

Surprisingly, YouTube includes a free video stabilizing capability for your uploaded videos.  But it must be manually selected.  Instead of using your computer, you can use the YouTube server computer to conduct stabilization of your videos.  It will still take time to complete the stabilization.  But you can conduct simultaneous stabilization of multiple videos.  If desired, you could also use a video downloader (such as Freemake listed on this site) to download your final stabilized video back to your computer.

How-to-Do Video Stabilization with YouTube

Step 1: Upload your video to YouTube (I'll assume most of you know how to do that).

Step 2: Click on your YouTube name in the upper-right corner of the screen, and select "Video Manager".

Step 3: Find your video in the list, and click on the "Edit" arrow or button.

Step 4: Select "Enhancements" 

Step 5: In the upper-right corner of the editing window, select "Stabilize".  Please note that

Step 6: Final important step.  Click on "Save" directly above "Stabilize".

Please note that your YouTube video will not be stabilized immediately.  As mentioned, stabilization is an intensive process, even for the YouTube servers.  YouTube will include a banner with your video stating that it's being editing.  In the meantime, the original video will be shown until the process is completed.  Come back later (give it a half-hour at least) to see your stabilized video.  If you don't like the final result, you can always select "Revert back to original video".

Here's an example of shaky video (watch fulls screen):

And here's that same video after YouTube stabilization. Impressive, huh?