Reelsteady is a post-production, stabilization plugin for use in Adobe After Effects that is being used more and more by cinematic and professional FPV pilots. Read more for our Reelsteady Overview, or watch the video above for a quick look at how to stabilize clips using the software.
Reelsteady is a software plugin that is applied to footage in Adobe After Effects, eliminating almost any need for a gimbal or camera stabilization. You may already be familiar with Adobe’s built-in Warp Stabilizer, but it won’t yield the same results that you can achieve using Reelsteady. Reelsteady has many more features and custom options, but it takes a lot longer to process. The folks at Reelsteady keep their secret sauce to themselves, but from using it I suppose that it crops and zooms the image to help stabilize it along with some heavy pixel/frame manipulation. Footage processed using Reelsteady has a very distinct look that’s easy to spot. Here is a great example:
Gab707 Footage using Reelsteady
Looks amazing right? The path to getting your footage to look like this is very challenging. The cost of the plugin is $400. That can be a lot of money for some people. You could buy a new GoPro Hero 7 with built-in stabilization, or build a whole new quad for that money. Reelsteady doesn’t work on the latest version of After Effects, but that should be worked out soon. You have to have to use a slightly backdated version. I personally use the 2015 version of After Effects when using Reelsteady. The time it can take to render a short clip can be shocking. Using the plugin for the first time I knew it would take a long time to render, but I was still surprised at the overnight processing needs.
4 Steps to Smooth Footage
To get a feel for the workflow, I’ve provided a few simple steps to achieving good results. Let’s use an example of a 1 min video clip shot at 2.7K, 60fps, Superview.
Step 1. Import footage to Adobe Premier & convert to ProRes 422 HD Codec – Apple Only. (15-20 minutes)
Step 2. Run Reelsteady stabilization on entire clip. (1-2 hours)
Step 3. Re-stabilize and mask areas that need fixing using Reelsteady. (1 hour)
Step 4. Final render. (4-5 hours)
This example takes roughly 8 hours to stabilize just a one-minute clip! I have to say, it looks SO good! Another thing to remember is that the final, uncompressed file size for this exported clip is somewhere between 40-50Gb.
From a creative and piloting perspective, you will find that the more flips and tricks you do, the harder it’s going to be to stabilize the footage. Reelsteady seems to really shine when flying smooth and “cinematic” lines because the software has a lot of similar frames to work with.
It’s pretty obvious that Reelsteady does its job and it does it well. However, it’s also obvious that it’s not for the average FPV enthusiasts. The barrier to entry is high, and the process is time-consuming. That being said, if you’re looking to take your footage to the next level, you’re flying some deservedly epic spots or your inner FPV cinematographer is starting to shine, then it’s for you.
Make sure to check out the Reelsteady website for computer specs, a trial version, and tutorials.
To hear JZFPV talk about how he uses Reelsteady in his FPV videos, check out the Flylife Podcast #5.