Master the Locked-On Stabilization Effect in Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro 19/08/2021 3 min read

Creating versatile yet eye-catching effects that inspire your viewers is not always an easy process for most editors. Some effects take too much time to recreate, while others are used everywhere. With the locked-on stabilization effect in Final Cut Pro, whether your object is further away or there is too much motion in your clips, you’ll be able to keep your objects in the dead center and make a cool effect with all types of footage.

Part 1: Learn to Create the Locked-On Stabilization Effect in FCPX

In this tutorial, we’ll be outlining how to create and use the locked-on stabilization effect in Final Cut Pro, a visual technique popularized in fast-paced promos, music videos, and ads. You’ll be able to create a shifted perspective, fast-moving edits using this tool.

  1. Click the File tab and hit New > Project to load your video into the project timeline.
  2. Using Final Cut Pro and the Trim > Blade tools, excise whatever footage you would not like to apply the effect to. 

Note: You should be extremely selective with which footage will be applying the locked-on stabilization, as it will save you a lot of time later on.

  1. Go to the Generators section and find Shapes.
  2. Place the Formen above your clip and make sure if the same length as your clip.
  3. Make sure the circle is centered and unselect the Fill so you can mainly see the stroke of the circle on the screen. Then scale the circle according to the object you want to track.
  4. Select your clip and go to the Transform settings on the right-hand side. Set a keyframe by clicking on the diamond icon for all of the options:
    • Position
    • Rotation
    • Scale
    • Scale X
    • Scale Y
    • Anchor

Note: You will find the keyframe next to an option on the editing tab, it will usually be in the shape of a diamond. Once you click it, you will notice that the formerly empty shape will now be highlighted. When it is highlighted, this means it will begin documenting all movement made to the circle. 

  1. Using the arrows go frame by frame and make sure the circle is positioned exactly over your object. When needed position it and this will make a more accurate track.

Top Tip: Complete the look by adding a Motion Blur effect to your video layer. You can download a free plugin here!

Part 2: Create the Locked-On Stabilization Effect in FCPX with Plugin

Another easy and quick way to recreate this effect is using third-party plug-ins. Especially if you are new to editing with Final Cut Pro or have a last-minute edit, we definitely recommend using the Pixel Film Studios Stabilizer 2.0. Using this plugin you will be able to track a specific in-frame object and ensure it does not fall away from the attention of your viewer.

  1. Once you download the tracker, reopen Final Cut Pro and you can find it on the right-hand side under Effects.
  2. Under the Track Controls, uncheck the Apply Rotation Data and Apply Scale Data. Then select the Track Editor.
  3. Under the Shape Options select either the circle or square tool
  4. Make sure the Track Quality is set to 100% and Tracking Type to Position Only.
  5. Identify the object in the video you would like to be the focus of the project. Make sure the size of your circle or square tool covers the object’s size. 
  6. Then click on Track Controls and use the track forward button.
  7. You will notice that the tracker will automatically add in the keyframes for the duration of your whole clip.  
  8. As you play forward, if the circle or square tool is not covering the object at any point in your frame, stop the track. 
    • Using the back arrow, find the exact point where the tracking is off and holding Shift, right-click to delete the incorrect keyframes. 
    • Go to the frame where the Circle or Square tool is off and select all the position keyframes – Offset Position X, Offset Position Y, Offset Scale X, and Offset Scale Y.
    • Then go frame by frame with the right arrow on your keyboard and adjust the position of the Circle or Square tool. Do this as many times as you need to. 
  9. You can adjust the cropping of the new clip by selecting the On/Off box under Guide Controls, and then adjust the Offset Scale under Stabilization Controls
  10. Once you are happy with the outcome, hit Export Data. This will create a render file of the tracking effect in your video. 
  11. When your entire video project is ready, export it using the Share tab under File.

Keeping a smooth-moving image is nearly impossible, even for the most experienced of videographers. Whether you are using a plugin or creating your own locked-on stabilization effect, you will be able to elevate footage in a visually stylized way. Using the locked-on stabilization for Final Cut Pro will give you the best method of following in-frame objects while keeping a solid, fluid-moving frame.

Share this article: