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Clean up your jittery video esaily with Steady.
Magic Bullet Steady is a set of plug-ins for Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects, which address two banes of a filmmaker’s existence: shaky footage from handheld camera shots and footage plagued with visual noise that’s typical when shooting in low-light. As for Steady’s antishake abilities, you may wonder why you need them when both After Effects and Final Cut Studio’s free Motion 3 app already offer similar features. The simple answer is that Magic Bullet Steady is quicker and easier to use.
Using Steady in Final Cut Pro, you can smooth out your shots right on the Timeline, instead of having to send a shot into Motion, and then return back to Final Cut when you’re done. Steady is also faster at analyzing each shot before smoothing it out. For instance, analyzing a 12-second shot in Motion 3 took a minute and eight seconds, but Steady needed only 13 seconds. Steady is faster than After Effects’ native stabilizer too (though not by quite so much), and its keyframe-enabled controls are a lot easier for a layman to figure out.
Still, the visual results Steady gave us weren’t noticeably better than what After Effects and Motion produced. All three programs did a good job removing jitter and shake from handheld, talking-head interview shots, and all three produced so-so results on shots where we walked briskly with the camera, simulating a tracking (dolly) shot. The more shake in your shot, the more the “steady” version will be blown up beyond its original file size, in addition to a decrease in sharpness.
We had mixed results when trying out Steady’s Noise Reduction filter on noisy HD shots taken inside a moderately lit apartment. Using a handful of keyframe-able controls, we did indeed cut down on visible noise, largely by making the noise elements bigger and more blended together. But the results also blurred our shot’s subject matter a little, and we still never felt like we made a truly appreciable dent in the noisiness of our footage. Additionally, render times for our efforts wore out our patience—a 4 second clip required 22 seconds of rendering on our quad-core Mac Pro.