How To Use Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro - A Complete Overview


Okay so the first thing to note is that warp stabilizer is a crazy powerful tool! It can really do a lot to take your footage to another level of quality.  But just remember.

1 It’s not perfect
2 it will only do what you tell it to do

And a lot of people just drag and drop warp stabilizer onto their footage and then wonder why they don’t get a perfect stabilization?  It’s because the default settings might not be the best for your specific shot. So let’s jump into Premiere and take a look at how to approach this effect!

This text has been transcribed for an optimal reading experience

Cool so we’re here in premiere pro and we have our footage on the timeline.  We can see right off the bat that our footage is a little bit shaky, so we’re gonna start by adding the warp stabilizer effect.  We do this by dragging and dropping the effect onto our footage.  To do that just go to our effects panel here, and then type in warp stabilizer.  Now we drag and drop.  

Off the bat you’ll see that it starts to analyze your clip.  And if you look over here in effect controls, you can see a readout of how many frames your clip has, how many it’s analyzed, the percentage it’s through analyzing your clip, and it will also go back and forth every few seconds showing you how much time the analysis has left.   You don’t have to wait till it’s finished to start making some adjustments, and in fact, some adjustments to the parameters will cause the analyzation to start over again.  So it’s good to get your parameters set right off the bat.  

So how do we know what to do?

Smooth Motion vs No Motion

Well let’s start by asking if you want your footage to have smooth motion or no motion.  For our clip here, we want smooth motion.  This is because the camera is actually moving a considerable amount of distance and we actually want to see that movement, we just want to take the jitters and shakes out.  So to start, make sure this box here is set for smooth motion.  

This is a good option to use for any clip that has simple motion with a little bit of movement that you want to just settle down.  Here’s a good example of a clip that would work well.

The other option for no motion is intended for if you want your clip to remain completely still.  This is more for a clip where you want to make it look like a tripod shot but you filmed it more or less handheld.  Here just choosing no motion can give you shot that looks like it’s completely still.

Even if there’s a lot of movement, as long as there’s not a lot of parallax in the shot warp stabilizer can do an amazing job making it look like there’s no motion.  In this example, it cropped in the video a lot to the point where there’s black on the top and bottom of the clip.  In a case like this you can either embrace it and keep it by having a 2.35 aspect ratio.  Or you can go down here to additional scale, and scale up until it fills out the frame again.  

Getting no motion is pretty straightforward, but getting smooth motion needs a little more finessing.  So let’s go back to this clip here and figure out how to get specific smooth motion now.  

So we can see here that right under our smooth motion option is a percentage for smoothness.  Basically what this is is a range going from 0 - 100% in terms of the smoothness you want to implement onto your clip.  Bringing it down to zero will make your footage indistinguishable from the original and in our case, pretty shaky.  But the more we increase it from 5%, to 25%, to 50%, we can see that our clip gets more and more smooth each time.  But we can also see that our clip gets more cropped in the more smooth we tell the clip to be.  

We can see that the same functionality can be found here under the advanced tab beside crop less - smooth more.  But we’ll come back to the advanced section later.

Stabilization Method

Next we have the method section where you can select what method of stabilization you want your clip to go through.  There’s 4 to choose from.


Position simple accounts for movements going in any direction up, down, left, or right.

Position, Scale, Rotation

This option allows the clip to be analyzed for each of the position, scale, and rotation movements that warp stabilizer can detect, and can counteract these movements.


Perspective is the first of these that will start to introduce true “warping” as it essentially uses a corner-pin-like effect to stretch the overall image to make the stabilization less mechanical and more fluid.  For me this is where I start see a lot of the jitters taken out of a shot.  

Subspace Warp

Finally subspace warp is the default parameter for your stabilization method.  Unless your clip has very basic motion you want to correct for, subspace warp will likely give you the most desired result as it analyzes the whole clip and warps specific portions to make the motion of the clip as smooth as possible.   There’s a reason that this is the default choice, but because it’s not magic, there are certain things that will really make your subspace warp look like garbage.  And one of those is lens flare as you can see in this example.  

Borders and Framing

Next is the Borders Section where we can talk about the only parameter we can adjust which is the framing.  Again there are 4 options that we can choose from.

Stabilize Only

This will effectively stabilize your clip, but none of the cropping will be applied so you’ll start to get black edges on the outside of your clip and in extreme cases you’ll actually start to see how the effect is manipulating your clip to stabilize it.  It’s interesting, but rarely the effect you want to go for.

Stabilize and Crop

This option will take any of the bad or moving edges of your frame and crop them in, but it will leave you with a black border around your clip, to fix this, either manually adjust your scaling or go onto the next option which is.

Stabilize, Crop, and Auto-Scale

This will tell warp stabilizer to automatically detect the amount of scaling it will require to get your clip down to where the stabilization doesn’t negatively impact the edge of your clip frame.  This is what your effect will likely be set to by default, and in my opinion it has given me consistently the best result.  But there’s one more option.

Stabilize, Synthesize Edges

This option will literally tell warp stabilizer to look at the edge of your frame and re-create the portions that are missing by artificially constructing it’s best guess of what should be there.  This effect has mixed results with many users and takes a significant amount of computer power and time to complete.  You should stay away from this option unless you either have a very powerful computer or you have a strong understanding of premiere pro.


Maximum Scale

Next down the line we have auto-scale.   What this does is gives warp stabilizer a maximum threshold to not go beyond in terms of how much it can scale up your clip to help with stabilization.  We can see here that our max is set for 150%, and our clip autoscale is at 107.6%

So if we bring our max down to 106%.  We can see that warp stabilizer respects our maximum scaling and does as much as we allow it to.  But if we bring it up to 109% now.  We can see that it still chooses to auto-scale only to 107.6%.

Action-Safe Margin

The action-safe margin simply adds a safe border around your clip which is excluded from the auto-scaling trying to fill.

Additional Scale

And lastly additional scaling is a parameter you can control yourself as well as keyframe to scale in more, or less of your clip.  But that’s not quite it, we just a couple more parameters to look at underneath the advanced section

Advanced Section

Detailed Analysis

Starting it off we have detailed analysis.  What this does is tells warp stabilizer to take more time and look for more points within the video to make adjustments.  This will take a little bit more time, and it’s possible that after this you won’t see any distinguishable difference.  But if you want to make sure you’re getting the absolute best possible stabilization I would highly recommend selecting detailed analysis.

Rolling Shutter Ripple

By default rolling shutter ripple is set to automatic reduction to take out any gross rippling that comes from rolling shutter.  Rolling shutter if you don’t know is when you have a lot of skewing and bending taking place in your video because the of rapid camera motion.  You can see here that the actual way the buildings look gets bent and skewed before returning to normal.

If you’ve got a lot of this in your shot go ahead and set it to enhanced reduction

Crop Less - Smooth More

Crop less and smooth more is what we went over previously.  Again just a recap that this can almost act as a slider between how close to the original you want your clip to look and how much do you want to crop in as a result of stabilization.

Synthesis Controls

And now we have the synthesis controls which, we won’t get into very deep because chances are you won’t be using them.  But in case you want to venture just know that you can only use them when your framing option is set to synthesize edges.  From here you can control how many seconds before and after each frame the effect will search in order to determine how to construct newly created pixels to fill in black gaps.  

Likewise the synthesis edge fether will let you blend in the effect a little bit by feathering it with the original.  And edge cropping simply lets you crop out any bad pixelation you get on the edges to help make the effect look better overall.

Hide Warning Banner

And finally we have the hide warning banner section where we can simply hide it if you don’t want to see it.  Simple as that.

And that’s all of the different parameters that you can use to make your warp stabilization better!

Red Error Banners

But lastly, every so often, you’ll end up being greeted by a screen like this.  So what’s going on?  Well the red banner is telling you that warp stabilizer can’t run on your clip the way it’s currently set up.  You’ll either get this banner that says “Warp stabilizer requires clip dimensions to match” or “Warp Stabilizer and Speed can’t be used on the same clip”.  

Either way, the solution is the same.  You need to nest your clip before adding warp stabilizer in each situation.  To do that, right click on your clip and go to nest.  This will give you a pop up where you can name your clip.  Then when you hit ok your clip will look a little bit different.  It’s a nested sequence which basically means there’s a clip inside this clip.  If you double click it, you can see the original clip with the original changes done to it, and all those changes still take place when you come back out into the main sequence, only now you can add your warp stabilizer effect!

We hope you found this video helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and filmmaking in general! You can also check out these great website presentation presets, many of which feature the effect we just went over:

Thank you so much for watching and we hope to see you in the next video!

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