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Old April 27th, 2008, 03:23 PM   #1
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SmoothCam for FCP 5.1

I have one shot from an airplane where the camera guy really sucked at keeping things steady. There are some half-usable clips in there I think if I use a stabilize plug-in.

Do I need to upgrade my FCP to use SmoothCam, or is there any other options?

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Old April 27th, 2008, 10:33 PM   #2
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There are high-quality plug-ins that will stabilize the image however the "pro" versions will cost more than half the price of FCS2 which comes with the SmoothCam filter (a left-over from Shake). FCP5 does not have the S.C. filter, you'd have to buy a separate plug-in.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 04:03 PM   #3
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So far Chris I have found the smoothcam filter to be a novilty at best. It will smooth up the shot if its a little hand shake ..but if its a lot of movement the finished product looks like a dream or drug induced wobble.
I wouldnt rush out and buy FCS@ just for this plug in
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Old April 29th, 2008, 04:39 PM   #4
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The thing to remember about ANY stabilization software is that fast movements with motion blur will still have motion blur even after they have been stabilized.

SmoothCam works best at turning handheld shots into steadicam shots. I'm not talking about war zone/Blair Witch/Cloverfield type shots, but shoulder mounted handheld shots that were shot as steady as feasibly possible. I think handheld from an airplane would fall into that category.

I've included a link to a sample of a handheld shot I did on rough ground and later used Smoothcam to stabilize. This shot was also overcranked at 60fps, but I've since used Smoothcam on 24P footage with just as satisfying results.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #5
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You could always use Shake, which has the same optical flow technology that was later integrated into FCP with the SmoothCam filter. I still prefer Shake's SmoothCam node because it allows you a lot more control over the various parameters and I always seem to get better results with it on the same clip when comparing FCP between Shake.

One annoying thing about FCP's implementation is that the SmoothCam filter analyzes the entire clip, not just what's in your timeline sequence. So if you're trying to smooth out 5 seconds in a 2-minute shot, you're going to have to wait while it analyzes the whole thing. The only way around this is to export just the bit you need smoothed out from FCP, then re-import it and analyze that. It works, but it's not elegant.
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Old April 29th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #6
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Those are pretty good results Tim. Did you break the clip into multiple pieces and tweak out the settings or did you just slap the filter on there and let it go? I ask because I've had Smoothcam turn my backgrounds into wobbly jello before. Those might be some of the better results I've seen.
I get hit and miss results.

-Ethan Cooper
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Old April 29th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #7
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For really shaky shots the best results can be achieved with 3D tracking and stabilization like when using SynthEyes ( ). That's because the 3D tracker can actually calculate the field of view of the camera and do a better job at computing the different rate of shake of different points given their perspective. You will also have to manage the inevitable edge problem, where the edges of the frame will be visible and moving because of the need to keep the subject stable. In Tim's example, which was pretty stable to start with, really as good as a hand-held shot can be, you can see for example that the original shot has a visible amount of vignetting on the left side of the frame. That "effect" is gone in the stabilized version, proof that the image has been upscaled a bit in order to fill the frame. The shakier the shot the higher amount of upsizing you'll need.
Demo Reel
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Old April 29th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #8
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cool thanks
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