Stabilizing 360 video in Final Cut Pro

Stabilizing 360 video in Final Cut Pro

If a video clip is affected by vibration or wobbles the effect can be unsettling to see in a headset. While there are limits to how much this kind of problem can be fixed, stabilizing such clips in Final Cut Pro can help save otherwise unusable shots.

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Categories:Create & Build
Tags:360 VideoPost ProductionSoftware Tools
Skill Level:

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Updated 12/06/2022


Shooting doesn’t always go perfectly; sometimes the camera support isn’t perfectly stable, and the result is clips with vibration or wobbles that are distracting to anyone watching in headsets. Fixing this is a useful skill, but there are limits to what’s possible. Some kinds of instability are easier to address than others; rotational instability can be handled with frame-by-frame adjustments of the spherical media’s X, Y and Z coordinates, but bumps and other positional shifts of the camera are more challenging and may be beyond the scope of this kind of feature.

Before reaching for third-party solutions it’s always worth seeing if the camera manufacturer’s own software might do a good job of fixing the problem. For example Kandao’s QooCamStudio software has AntiShake and SuperSteady options for stabilizing footage as it is stitched, before any editing.

Stabilizing 360 media in Final Cut Pro

If OEM software doesn’t solve the problem Final Cut Pro can help. Unlike when working with traditional rectilinear video, with 360 media Final Cut Pro’s stabilizing feature has no parameters to adjust; a single checkbox in the Video Inspector simply turns this feature on and off.

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Select the shaky clip in the timeline, then click the Stabilization checkbox in the Video Inspector on the right. Stabilizing a clip is a computationally intensive process, so be prepared to wait some time for this to finish. This process works on a clip-by-clip basis, so if only part of a clip needs treatment you can use the blade tool to isolate just the relevant section.

Understanding stabilization

Stabilizing 360 media isn’t done in the same way as stabilizing normal ‘flat’ rectilinear video. In simple terms traditional stabilizing is achieved by cropping in slightly and shifting the scene around in the frame to compensate for camera movements. However, with 360 video cropping simply isn’t possible. Instead, elements in the footage are identified and tracked, and the rotation axes of each frame are tweaked to reduce or, ideally, eliminate transient differences. This is most effective with rotational instability. Moderate vibration can also be dealt with reasonably well, but if the camera moves about in space much that can be hard for the stabilizing process to handle.