Lock & Load Pro is the latest version of CoreMelt’s instant stabilization system for Final Cut Pro and After Effects. It’s much faster and more capable than the built-in SmoothCam in Final Cut Pro, and you can analyze many clips at once. Lock and Load offers very fast motion tracking, and it only analyzes the portion of the clip in use instead of the whole clip. It intelligently ignores foreground motion, meaning that you can stabilize even if your main subject is obscured from time to time.
In addition to simple stabilization, compensating for rotational wobble and camera shake, Lock & Load Pro can adapt to a moving area of interest, and also compensate for DSLR rolling shutter artifacts
Which Version Should You Use?
Included with Lock & Load Pro are two plug-ins, to work around issues in Final Cut Pro. Mostly, you should use Lock and Load X, which uses XML data and can analyze multiple clips at once in the background. Though this is usually fastest, the Final Cut XML export process can take a long time for a large, complex project. It also won’t work for clips with
speed changes applied, or a frame rate that doesn’t match the sequence. In these cases, your workﬂow may be faster with Lock and Load Frames.
Lock & Load Frames requires that there be no in or out points on the timeline, and that the sequence playhead is over the clip to be stabilized. You can analyze only one clip at a time with Lock & Load Frames, but it’s slightly more ﬂexible with regard to speed changes or non-native frame rates.
In summary, use Lock & Load X unless:
• your project is complex and XML generation is slow
• speed changes have been used
• the clip frame rate doesn’t match the sequence frame rate
Note: Lock & Load Express is similar to Lock & Load Frames but is available for Final Cut Express only. It’s not possible to use Lock & Load X with Final Cut Express.
Step 1: Getting Started
1. Drop the Lock and Load X plug-in on the clip in the timeline.
2. Load the clip into the viewer by double-clicking it on the timeline.
3. Press Track Motion and wait for analysis.
4. Play the video back in the viewer.
Note: If your Mac isn’t fast enough to offer stutter-free playback with Unlimited RT, choose Sequence > Render Selection > Both, or press command-R.
If the tracking doesn’t work perfectly the ﬁrst time, there are many ways to tweak the settings.
Step 2: Adjust Stabilization Mode
Lock and Load can stabilize different kinds of shots. The default, “Smooth, Single Shot” is usually appropriate for reducing camera shake. However, if you would prefer to simulate a tripod, choose “Lock Down” to eliminate all movement. If your source clip is a ﬁnished piece containing multiple shots, choose “Smooth, Multi Shot” to cope with changing vision in a single clip.
Step 3: Adjust Stabilization Strength and Type
If you have chosen to Smooth a shot, it’s possible to adjust the Overall Strength. While the single slider is usually enough, open the “by Direction” area to adjust separate sliders for Horizontal, Vertical, Rotation and Zoom compensation. For example, if your shot shakes from left to right, but not up and down, you might increase the “Horizontal” slider. As the clip plays, you can see the degree of zoom that has been applied in the Info area. If the shake varies over the parameters over time.
Step 4: Adjust the Tracking Area
If the result is still slightly jerky, it’s possible that Lock & Load hasn’t been able to ﬁnd an object to keep stable. This can happen if a large amount of the frame changes over the length of the clip — for example, while a car is driving along. In this case, limiting the stabilization to something that remains in shot, such as a car wheel or a distant mountain, can really help.
1. Change the Tracking Area from Full Screen to Inside Rectangle.
2. Open the Tracking Area section by pressing the disclosure triangle, then ﬁnd the Position setting.
3. Press the “plus in a circle” button and click on the center of the relatively stable object.
4. Adjust the width and height to roughly match the object.
5. Adjust Rotation if needed.
6. Press Track Motion again, and play back.
Step 5: Adjust Zoom Mode
Note: Zoom Mode does not attempt to stabilize an in-camera zoom. The Zoom Mode setting affects how the stabilized footage is displayed. Stabilized footage is dynamically moved, rotated and scaled, then zoomed up to ﬁt the frame. Without zooming, there would be visible black areas around the edges of the clip. There’s a tradeoff: heavily smoothed motion in the ﬁnal video means higher zoom and a softer image. If needed, you can change the zoom style.
The default strategy, Smart Zoom, applies the lowest zoom possible, changing the zoom amount gradually. If needed, you can adjust how fast the zoom is allowed to move (Max Zoom Speed) and also allow a black margin around the edges of the clip (Max Margin).
For full manual control, use Fixed Zoom instead of Smart Zoom. In Fixed Zoom, you can govern zoom manually to achieve a totally locked-down effect, or to animate the zoom over time.
Step 6: Apply Rolling Shutter Reduction
In addition to stabilization, you can use Lock and Load to compensate for rolling shutter artifacts — jello vision — in footage from CMOS cameras like DSLRs. First, under Operation Mode, change Stabilize only to Stabilize and Shutter Reduction, or Shutter Reduction only if the footage is already stable — for example, a pan on a tripod. Next, from the new Shutter Presets drop-down menu, choose your camera. Alternatively, choose Custom Coefﬁcient and set the compensation coefﬁcient manually.
There are more tips and tricks available in the Help tab of the software and from www.lockandloadx.com.
Iain Anderson is an editor, animator, designer, developer and Apple Certified Trainer based in Brisbane, Australia. He’s been editing on and off since 1991, has taught privately and in tertiary institutions, and has freelanced for Microsoft and the Queensland Government.
Stabilize Video and Reduce Rolling Shutter with Lock & Load