GoPro is an amazing camera and it can take shots that look absolutely phenomenal. I’ll give you that.
But when you’re into sports you know there will be a lot of camera movement.
And I’m not talking about that smooth, cinematic looking camera movement. No, I’m talking about those annoying shaky GoPro videos which put viewers off.
Is there any way to fix that?
How can you get smooth GoPro footage?
Will you need a GoPro stabilization mount?
Is there any way to stabilize GoPro videos in the editing stage?
Is there such a thing as the best GoPro stabilization software? Maybe a free one? Does in work on both Windows and Mac?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions you are on the right page. Because we’re answering all of them down below.
In the production stage
If you want to get the best results you need to start by stabilizing, as much as you can, your GoPro footage when you are shooting.
Yes, you can add some stabilization when you will be editing the video, but if the original video is too shaky, you won’t get much out of it regardless of what editing software you are using.
So try to keep your GoPro as steady as you can and get smoother looking shots. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more stable it is, the easier and better the results will be after you use software stabilization features.
So here are a few tips on how you get smoother GoPro footage.
Use a Gimbal
The first option which will give you the best results is to use a 3-axis Gimbal mount for your GoPro.
A Gimbal is a battery-powered device which uses a gyroscope and a motor to keep itself level with the horizon. Some Gimbals also have built-in functions which will move the camera really smooth, such as tilt or pan.
It works wonders. The footage will look super smooth and professional with it. Obviously, the main disadvantage is that a Gimbal will be quite expensive, especially if you are just starting out with filming and you don’t want to invest too much money in it. A decent one will run you $150-$200.
Here’s how it works.
Using a pole
If you are using a Pole with your GoPro you will love this tip. You know how we all shoot videos by putting the GoPro on the upside of the pole, right? That’s the normal way of doing it because the camera sits upright.
But if you actually put the camera on the downside of the Pole and you flip the video recording to down (or have it set on auto) so that the image is not recorded upside down, you will get much steady and smoother looking videos.
That’s because the weight of the camera will be underneath the Pole and you will be less likely to wobble the Pole as you are trying to balance it from falling either to the left or to the right.
Here’s MicBergsma doing it.
Get a mouth or chin mount
Pressing your GoPro against your face will actually work really great.
Maybe not as good as a chicken head, but it will still do a pretty decent job.
So whenever you have the chance, use a mouth mount or make your own. Here’s a quick and easy DIY GoPro mouth mount tutorial.
Alternatively, you can simply press your GoPro against the chin and the videos will look much more steady. Apparently, our arms and body are not as steady as our head.
Build a stabilization rig
These are fairly cheap to build as you can make them out of PVC little pipes. There’s no better way of explaining it than a DIY video, so here it is.
Use the GoPro built-in stabilization feature
Starting with the GoPro 5, you have available a built-in video stabilization feature which you can use.
The only settings you get to control is the On and Off. Unfortunately, there is no way of controlling the stabilization amount.
The downside of this built-in stabilization feature is that if it doesn’t work well and the footage turns out wobbly, there’s nothing you can do about it. You will be stuck with it.
It works pretty much like any video editing software stabilization does, so why not actually doing it in post-production where you can play around with more settings and go back to the initial video if you want.
So personally I am not a big fan of the GoPro built-in video stabilization, but it is there if you want to use it.
In the post-production stage
Now that you’ve done everything that you possibly can do to keep your GoPro steady, let’s see what else can we tweak and fine tune in the video editing stage to make to video look smoother.
First and foremost let me tell you that you need to edit your GoPro videos if you want to make them look better. I’m not talking about simply applying stabilization. I’m talking about making the right cuts, stitching everything together, transitions and applying color correction. If you are into traveling (I know many GoPro owners are), you can check out this article over here to learn how you can edit your first travel video.
With that being said, let’s see how you can stabilize your GoPro videos using a software.
What video editing software to use?
If you would’ve asked me this question in a different context, I would probably be answering something along the lines of: “To be honest, it doesn’t really matter that much. It’s not about the software you’re using, but about how you are using.”
But if we are solely talking about stabilizing footage, it matters. You see, not all software will be as effective or work as good for stabilizing videos.
Don’t worry. This doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any free option that will do a good job, ’cause there are.
Here are my top picks.
Adobe Premiere Pro Warp Stabilizer
If you’re a Premiere Pro user you can use the Warp Stabilizer feature to make your videos steadier. It will allow you to smoothen out some of the shakiness in no time.
You can find the Warp Stabilizer tool on the Effects panel. It will be under Video Effects, in the Distort folder.
Once you located it, simply drag it over the video track you want to stabilize.
You will notice that Adobe Premiere Pro CC will immediately start to do its thing.
Once it is done analyzing each end every frame of the clip it will show up the stabilized version of it, using the default settings.
You will notice that the footage will look better, and it will be cropped/zoomed in a little bit, depending on how shaky the original footage is.
Here’s a side by side comparison between the original handheld footage I shot and the same footage stabilized with the Warp Stabilizer.
Most of the times I only lower the Smoothness if I feel that the video was over-stabilized and it starts to look funny or it is zoomed in too much.
You can also try to select between different Framing options. These will basically tell Premiere Pro at how many things to look at when stabilizing the video.
Here’s a nice tutorial put together by Justin, which goes into a bit more details about how to use the Warp Stabilizer.
Vegas Pro Stabilize
This one works really well, but it is quite taxing on the CPU. So if you plan on using it to stabilize long footage it will take forever to do it.
So Vegas Pro has this built-in feature called Stabilize which you can find under the Video FX tab.
For some reason, it doesn’t work like any other video effect within Vegas Pro. So when you try to apply it to your video track you will get this message:
No problem, simply go to Tools, Video and then choose Media FX …
Then pick VEGAS Stabilize, and you are done
After you hit Apply.
Here’s how the stabilized video will look like, compared to the original shaky footage.
I have used the default settings which will have the Pan smoothing and Stabilization amount set to 0.50 which is half of the maximum. You can play around with these settings based on how shaky the original footage is.
What I’ve noticed is that if you are trying to smooth out footage that is really bad you will end up losing quite a bit of the video quality after Vegas Pro stabilizes the video.
So just like I mentioned in the first part of this post, try to keep your camera as steady as possible.
YouTube Video Editor (FREE)
Nah, just kidding. As you may know, the YouTube Video Editor was shut down starting on the 20th of September of 2017.
It used to do a pretty good job though. So one less free app to stabilize your GoPro videos.
Deshaker plugin for VirtualDub (FREE)
I don’t really use this tool anymore because I like to keep everything either in Vegas Pro or Premiere Pro. But if you don’t have any of these programs, the VirtualDub is a great piece of free video editing software which will do a pretty good job at stabilizing your footage.
Here’s a nice tutorial on how you can use it together with the Deshaker plugin for making your videos look smoother.
Definitely, give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.
Filmora is a pretty slick editing software for any kind of footage, but even more so for GoPro users.
With their 8.0 version, they added a feature called Action Cam Tool which is targeted at GoPro users mainly.
Anyway, stabilizing footage with Filmora is like a walk in the park. You just right click on the video you want to stabilize and pick Video Stabilization.
Here’s how it works.
So, to recap everything here’s how to shot smoother footage with your GoPro.
First and foremost you need to keep your GoPro as steady as possible when you are filming. I know that might be hard given that this is a sport, action camera.
But there are a few things you can do: use a gimbal (these are expensive, but they work great), use a pole the right way, build yourself a stabilization rig, use a chin or mouth mount. Or, simply use GoPro’s built-in stabilization feature.
Any of these things will already make a massive improvement in the way your videos will look.
From there, import your GoPro footage into a video editing software. It doesn’t matter that much what software you will be using, but I outline the most popular ones above.
Use the stabilizing feature of that video editing software to make your footage look smoother. If you are just starting out with video editing use the default settings and see how the footage looks.
If you feel like you are losing a little bit of video quality as a result of the software stabilization you will need to reduce the amount of stabilization applied to your video.
Software stabilization is a two-edged sword. Just like ISO, too much of it will start to lower the quality of the shot.
That’s why it is extremely important to keep your camera as steady as you can when you are filming.
Leave your comments down below and let me know if this helps.