Post Production

After Effects Classic Course: Extended Vignette Techniques (part 3)

When the subject you’re trying to focus on won’t stay still inside their vignette, stabilize them.

A potential problem with creating a vignette to focus the viewer’s attention on an area of the frame: What if the camera wasn’t locked down, and instead moves a bit, causing your focal point to wander around inside your vignette? Or what if your focal point wanders a bit themselves? One answer is to stabilize the footage so that your focal point stays still, and therefore nicely framed. That’s what we demonstrate in the final “chapter” of the Extended Vignette Techniques course.

3.1 Stabilizing the Foreground

This movie shows how to use After Effects’ classic motion stabilization tools to stabilize the position of an area of interest. Alternatives that appeared since this movie was made includes using mocha (bundled with After Effects), or AE’s own Warp Stabilizer (just make sure you crank the stabilization amount all the way up to 100%; otherwise you will still have some slight wandering). Outside the tool-specific details, the concept is the same no matter which tool you use.

3.2 Correcting Edge Issues After Stabilization

The problem with motion stabilization is that it moves the footage around the frame in order to keep your desired feature in one place. What do you do if it moves so much, that the edge of the original footage appears inside your vignette? This movie demonstrates the problem and has a few suggestions on how to cure it. (After Effects has recently added a contextual fill feature, which is another potential solution to this problem.)

By the way, an alternate solution to the “wandering focal point” problem above is to track your area of interest, and to apply this track to the vignette layer (or the effect point, if you used the Circle technique) so that it follows your focal point around the frame.


A quick summary of why we’ve been going through all of this trouble in the first place, and the potential cures.

These movies previously appeared on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. They’ve retired this course from their library, so we’re making the movies from it available publicly for free. You can either scan our page on ProVideo Coalition to see the other free movies, or check out the Crish Design channel on YouTube.

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Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS,…