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iMovie Tutorial: How to stabilise your clips for smoother movies

Radically improve your project’s production values by ironing out shakes and wobbles caused by hand-held camera moves

When you shoot without using a tripod you can change your camera position more quickly to capture interesting events, but this freedom to move can lead to shaky-looking footage. Fortunately iMovie can analyse a clip’s contents, spot camera shake and re-render the clip to create a more stable sequence. Even when shooting on a tripod your footage can still suffer from camera shake as the wind may buffet the tripod-mounted camera and add the odd wobble. Here’s how to remove shake from a variety of problem shots and produce Steadicam-like results without blowing your budget on an expensive dedicated piece of hardware.

1: Import clip

Go to File>Import>Movies. Browse to our Shake Sources folder of wobbly clips. Import the clips to a New Event. Set Optimize video to Full – Original Size.

2: Play clip

Click on the bridge clip in the Event browser and hit Spacebar to play it. Even though this scene was shot on a tripod, the wind is producing a wobbly picture.

3: Analyse clip

Drag the bridge clip into the Project window. Press ‘I’ to open the Clip Inspector. Click Stabilization: Smooth clip motion. iMovie will analyse the movement.

4: Adjust zoom

The clip will play more smoothly. At Maximum Zoom the quality may degrade, so drag the Zoom slider left for a handy compromise. Click Done.

5: Hand-held clips

Play the cable car clip in the Event browser. Despite the fact that this hand-held shot is very shaky, iMovie is up to the challenge of stabilising it…

6: Analyse new clip

You can analyse a clip’s wobbles while it is still in the Event browser. To do so, right-click on the clip and choose Analyze Video>Stabilization.

7: Add to project

Once the clip in the Event browser has been analysed it will still look wobbly until you drag it into the Project window. Now it is surprisingly smooth!

8: Multi-tasking

Right-click on the People clip and choose Analyze Video>Stabilization and People. A purple bar will mark the area featuring people.

9: Auto keywording

Drag the clip to the Project window. As well as stabilising the shot iMovie has spotted the person in it and automatically added people-related keywords.

Click Image to Enlarge