Whether you've strapped your GoPro to a car, motorcycle, boat, plane, snowboard, skateboard or a UAV, chances are you will need to stabilize that shaky footage, do some quick color correcting or do some lens correction to eliminate the wide FOV inherent with these POV cams. I'll share with you some tips on “fixing” your footage and images, including links to additional online video tutorials from my colleagues at Adobe.
I recently did a presentation for the SF Cutters group at Adobe SF to show some quadcopters and POV footage with the workflow in post-production to make it look better. Besides the obvious questions about the quadcopters themselves, it was obvious that everyone was struggling with getting better results from their GoPros, so I thought I would share some of those tips here with the PVC readers.
Normally, if I've done a good job of mounting my GoPro Hero camera or stabilizing my quadcopter in advance, then all I have to do is a quick edit of the footage or images and do some color correcting in Photoshop, Premiere Pro or After Effects CC. But when things get shaky, loose or just need a little help, there are some go-to procedures I use to get me useable footage. I'll share a few examples and techniques with you here…
Some Basic Adjustments & Corrections
Starting with good footage may only need a little stabilizing and color correction and you can do this easily in Premiere Pro CC and Adobe SpeedGrade CC.
• Stabilize Footage: a little camera shake is normal whether you've got your camera mounted or hand-held and if it's not too crazy, you can apply the Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro CC or After Effects CC. The Warp Stabilizer is an effect, so once you've stabilized your footage you can make further tweaks and adjustments to it or disable it altogether if you wish. In this example, I've chosen to apply it inside of Premiere Pro CC and left the default settings. Keep in mind that the footage can only be stabilized in a sequence that matches the original footage clip exactly. That sequence can then be placed inside your master project sequence for editing with your other footage clips.
Now the footage clip is stabilized, I can add this stabilized sequence to my master sequence for editing. Note that the Warp Stabilizer won't ALWAYS solve your shaky footage. Depending on the amount of lens distortion you have and the amount of shake, the stabilizer may actually make your footage look worse, as if it were shot through a bowl of Jello!
• Color Grading: The dynamic link to SpeedGrade CC allows you to “round-trip” your project to a powerful color grading package to fine-tune the look of your project, from inside your current Premiere Pro project. Simply select the pull-down menu option File > Direct Link to Adobe SpeedGrade…
One your project is opened up in SpeedGrade CC, you'll see familiar 3-way color corrector tools that can be applied to the Overall appearance or to the shadows, medium and highlights of the image. You can create a custom Look or choose a preset from the menu and tweak it further. This look will transfer back to Premiere Pro CC upon completion and choosing the Direct Link to Adobe Premiere Pro option in the top menu bar.
After switching back to Premiere Pro CC, your color grading will be applied to the footage in your sequence as a Lumetri Look fx that you can enable or disable in Effects Controls panel. This look isn't editable or adjustible inside of Premiere Pro CC, but you can make further adjustments by using the Dynaic Link back to SpeedGradeCC and completing the round-trip again.
Wide Angle Lens Correction
Quite often, the wide-angle look that's prominent with the GoPro Hero3+ and other POV cams (like the built in camera on the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, in this example) are desired to show a broad view of the landscape or environment you're shooting in. In some case however, you may wish to correct this fisheye distortion and make the horizon level or straighten-out horizontal/vertical lines and edges of buildings or structures in your shot.
There are several methods for doing these corrections in either After Effects CC or in Photoshop CC. Yes, you can apply lens corrections to video in Photoshop on the Timeline, but it's probably not the best workflow for editing video, unless that's the only tool you have at your disposal. If you're shooting photos, however, then it's definitely the best choice.
Also, many times you might just want to stitch a pano from a panning video or still sequence in Photoshop CC. My friend and colleague Russell Brown at Adobe has developed a complete series of tutorials on capturing, editing and stitching panorama photos and also discusses some of his custom lens profiles on his channel on Adobe TV.
I've used Russell Brown's Photoshop CC Lens Profiles in the Lens Correction effect for both GoPro and DJI images and they work great! This example is a frame from footage shot with a DSLRPros Phantom Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit with a GoPro Hero3+ 2.7k @ 24p.
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Lens Correction in After Effects CC
Similar to the Lens Correction plug-in in Photoshop CC, the Optics Compensation effect in After Effects CC can be enabled/disabled easily on any clip or applied as an Adjustment layer globally in a comp.
Here's a frame from the original footage shot with a DJI Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter:
Next I apply the Optics Compensation in After Effects CC and set the FOV amount to 60.0 with Reverse Lens Distortion. This is close to approximately half of the original lens FOV, which is a good place to start, depending on your camera's optics. You'll want to adjust this amount depending on the subjects in your shot and the distortion you're trying to correct. In this case, I wanted to straighten-out the roof lines, buildings and fences throughout the video.
Alternatively, you may also choose the CC Lens effect set to 100% and adjust the Convergence to make a similar correction.
Sometimes if my footage has a lot of lens distortion and requires a great deal of stabilizing, I may run it through a pass of Optics Correction first, render a sub-comp and then stabilize with the Warp Stabilizer to lessen the “Jello” effect around the edges of the frame.
Tilt-Shift Effect on Aerial Video
We've all seen this effect on lots of photos lately – giving the appearance of a miniature village or a table top full of toy figures, but when you really want to mess with someone's head, try applying this effect to some aerial video footage!
There is a Tilt-Shift effect generator built into Photoshop CC but there's a different process I like to use in After Effects CC that allows me to animate the focus over time and position it on screen where I want, and only uses a moving matte with the Camera Lens Blur effect.
First, I start by adding a New Solid Layer to my comp above the footage layer. I then draw out a new Mask with the Pen Tool and apply a broad feathered edge to the mask.
I then add an Adjustment Layer to the comp between the Solid Mask layer and the footage layer, and apply the Camera Lens Blur effect to it.
I then select the Adjustment Layer and choose the Alpha Inverted Matte Track Matte option. This will make the feathered solid mask disappear and create a “hole” in the Lens Blur effect, revealing the footage below.
The solid mask layer can now be animated to move with the point of interest in your shots to simulate a rack-focus or manual focus on a shallow DOF. Wherever the mask moves, the reveal in the lens blur will follow its position and shape. You can adjust the feathering and shape of the mask to your desired effect at any time and even the shape can be keyframed to follow your subjects in the shot.
Below is a video example outlining the sequence of processes covered in this article using Adobe CC Video Tools:
*UPDATE: Here's another example shooting with a DSLRPros Phantom Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit with the GoPro Hero3+ Black at 2.7k/24p – edited, stabilized and color corrected in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and the Optics Correction done in After Effects CC. Then cropped to produce a more natural film style framing plus a Film Look added to simulate color reversal film and the results are beautiful!
Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com