Post production stabilizing for smooth, viewer-friendly playback

Post production stabilizing of immersive media for smooth, viewer-friendly playback

While sturdy rigs help keep your camera steady, sometimes a shot has to be stabilized in post-production. Doing this properly can make the difference between an audience enjoying the work or getting motion sickness. Here we explain the different solutions.

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Categories:Skills & Principles
Tags:Post ProductionSoftware ToolsTrackingVideo Editing
Skill Level:

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Updated 12/01/2022


Although every effort should be made to stabilize cameras in production, post production stabilization is available for when things don’t work as planned. This process is extremely time consuming and may not work for every shot, but it can make the difference between losing or saving a shot or even a whole day’s worth of shots. Stabilizing a shot can also add to the comfort of your audience; motion sickness and disorientation will drive viewers away from your story.

Camera manufacturers such as Insta360, Ricoh, Kandao and GoPro use gyroscopic sensors in their cameras to track changes in the camera’s position as it moves through 3D space. That sensor data is used by the camera-specific stitching software during the stitching process to reorient and stabilize the video. Certain third party software such as Mistika VR can read this data from some cameras, giving creators even greater control of the stabilization process.

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Some camera manufacturer software including Kandao’s QooCam Studio offer stabilizing features as part of the stitching process. Image: Keith Martin

For cameras that do not record this data, or if further stabilization is needed, there are a few post-stitching solutions available. Here are some widely used options:

Mocha Pro

Mocha Pro is a planar tracker and works best for shots where the horizon is visible and there are clearly trackable elements visible in the frame. For example, when filming on a boat or stabilizing drone footage, it is easy to track some of the clouds in the sky and reorient the horizon. Mocha Pro's tracking works well when elements of the shot do not disappear, as this causes the tracking to fail. It is also performs best when there is a consistent horizon line for it to reference.

Some excellent tutorials on stabilizing with Mocha Pro can be found here:


Syntheyes is an advanced 3D camera tracker that is capable of impressive stabilization and even generates 3D camera tracking data as it moves through the scene. This is useful for stabilizing a shot and also in advanced post production pipelines where having a 3D map of your scene is useful for placing 3D elements. The software is more complex than Mocha Pro, but several tutorials are available on the company’s web site.

Mistika VR

Mistika VR offers stabilization when stitching. There are limited options to adjust parameters so it may not work in every shot. Mistika VR will import gyro data from some cameras, including the Insta360 Pro 2. Two tips to keep in mind are:

  • Turn off Optical Flow so stabilization analysis performs more quickly
  • Manually align your horizon so Mistika VR can prioritize it

SGO has a useful five-minute video on using Mistika VR to stabilize 360 video in one click.

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve’s normal stabilizing features in the Edit page aren’t suitable for 360 media, but the Spherical Stabilizer node in the Fusion page works very well. It can also be teamed with a keyframed PanoMap node to stabilize while correcting time-based leveling issues such as those found in drone clips.

Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro’s 360 stabilizing feature is simple to use, as it is an on/off checkbox in the Video Inspector panel. The stabilizer also works well with 3D 360 without needing special treatment.

After Effects

Adobe After Effects is included in this list because it has a built in stabilizer, but for any VR project above 4K monoscopic it may be unreliable. Since 5.2K is considered a practical minimum for today’s headsets and 5.7K and above is preferred, After Effects is not an ideal option for this specific task. However, this situation may change with future versions.


The RE:Lens set of plugins from RE:Vision Effects provides a rich set of spherical stabilizing controls for After Effects, Premiere, Nuke, Fusion, Resolve and some other editors. This tracks and analyzes the dominant angular motion between frames and can stabilize between user-selected frames.

A note about 3D 180 footage

Stabilizing 3D 180 footage should be done with extreme care since the process will crop into the field of view. However, minor stabilization to enhance what was captured on production might make a slightly shaky shot usable.