5 Top Tricks to Fix Bad Footage in After Effects (with video)

After Effects 24/07/2022 3 min read

As editors, we always hope that the footage we have to work with is the best possible quality, but it rarely works out this way. From shaky camera to exposure, many things could go wrong, and it’s up to you to fix it as best you can. In this tutorial, we’ll look at 5 ways you can improve bad footage in After Effects, including stabilization, removing flicker, color banding, blur and fixing those over-exposed shots.  

Part 1: How to Fix Motion Blur in AE (with video)

Even when your camera is perfectly in focus, there will be moments of movement where natural motion blur occurs. After Effects has a powerful effect to help reduce the motion blur in your shots, but it can take a little time depending on the length and overall movement in your clips.

  1. Edit and trim your clip in the timeline.
  2. Look through your footage frame by frame and add a marker to your timeline using Shift + 1 for a few frames that are out of focus; this is for reference so you can quickly check how the effect is working.
  3. In the Effects Panel, search for Camera Shake Deblur and add it to your clip.
  4. In the Effects Control Panel, adjust the blur duration to blend the out-of-focus frame with the surrounding focused frames.
  5. Play around with the Strength and Shake Sensitive until you’re happy with your shot.

Part 2: How to Stabilize Video in After Effects (with video)

Stabilizing hand-held video footage is a skill every editor needs to have. While it is always advisable to use a tripod when filming and add an artificial (controllable) shake in the edit, this isn’t possible occasionally. Instead, you can turn to the Warp Stabilizer in After Effects. Remember, any stabilization will reframe your shot, so you must find a compromise between the shot framing and shakiness.

  1. With your clip edited in the timeline, search for Warp Stabilizer in the Effects Panel.
  2. Add the Warp Stabilizer to your clip.
  3. After Effects will analyze the clip for movement; you can check the progress in the Effects Control Panel.
  4. Once the analysis is complete, choose Smooth Motion or No Motion from the Result drop-down menu.
  5. You can also adjust the Method setting to suit your shot.

Part 3: How to Remove Flicker in After Effects (with video)

If you’ve ever filmed a TV screen or a projected presentation, you may have noticed a flicker in your shots due to the Shutter Speed. Of course, you can adjust your shutter speed on set to compensate for the flicker, but sometimes it’s difficult to see on a small camera screen. Fortunately, there is a super simple fix for the problem; what’s more, you can use this trick in any editing software.

  1. Place the flickering clip in the timeline and trim it to the length you require.
  2. Use Command/Control D (Edit > Duplicate) to create a copy of the clip.
  3. Move the duplicate along the timeline a single frame.
  4. In the Effects Control Panel, set the Opacity to 50%.

Part 4: How to Correct Underexposed or Overexposed Footage (with video)

Being able to create basic color fixes for your shots is a must for any editor. All color grading uses scopes to show the levels of light and color in a shot, which are similar across all editing platforms. We’ll show you the steps to correcting over and under-exposed video footage in After Effects, but to find out more about how color grading works, check out this fantastic Premiere Pro color grading tutorial.

  1. Go to Window > Workspace > Color.
  2. At the bottom of the Scopes panel, click the Wrench icon > Presets > Vectorscope YUV/Parade RGB/Waveform YC; this will display all 3 scopes.
  3. In the Effects Panel, search for Lumetri Color and add it to your clip.
  4. Go to the Effects Control Panel and open the Basic Correction Settings.
  5. Adjust the exposure first until you are happy with the light values in the shot.
  6. Next, play around with the Contrast, Shadows, Highlights, Whites, and Blacks.
  7. Keep an eye on the scopes as you make the adjustments to learn how the color and light values are displayed.
  8. Once you are happy with the Contrast, Shadows, Highlights, Whites, and Blacks, you can increase or decrease the overall exposure to suit your needs.

Part 5: How to Correct Color Banding in After Effects (with video)

Color banding can be a real issue, especially if you are working with many grading effects on high-resolution footage. Color banding occurs when the bit depth of your image is too low and can’t support the number of shades in your image. Fortunately, the fix is incredibly simple; you just need to change from 8-bit color to 16-bit or 32-bit at the bottom of the Project Panel.

Whether you need to stabilize video in After Effects, fix bad exposure or remove color banding, there are plenty of tools you can use to improve your overall video quality. As an editor, knowing these tricks can save you time and frustration, allowing you to create a more efficient workflow. To learn more about After Effects stabilization, check out our handy tutorial about stabilizing motion in After Effects.

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