Final Cut Motion Tracking Plugins



Lyric's Stabilizer is an image stabilization filter intended to replace Final Cut's Image Stabilizer. It provides several enhancements over the built-in filter, including:

  • sub-pixel and center-of-weight motion tracking
  • feature selection on any clip frame
  • interactive, frame-by-frame tracking repair
  • track smoothing
  • adjustable, automatic scaling to fill the screen

Stabilizer works by letting you pick an image feature that it tracks throughout the frames in a clip and then it repositions & scales each frame so that the selected feature appears stationary.


Unlike most of Final Cut's filters which are modeless, Stabilizer has a set of fixed steps you work through to get the final stabilized image. You select the step you wish to perform in the Step dropdown menu. The steps are:

  1. Select the feature to track and set the tracking options
  2. Start the motion track process
  3. When the tracking finishes, check it and optionally repair any tracking errors, including retracking portions of the clip
  4. Set stabilizing options and stabilize the image based on the final track

Doing things this way lets Stabilizer build a record of an entire motion track, so that it can support features like manual track correction, track smoothing, auto-scaling and image preprocessing.

The first 3 steps are identical in all the Lyric Motion Tracking Plugins and are described in the Tracking an Image Feature section.

When you have created a satisfactory image motion track, select 4. Stabilize in the Step dropdown menu to show the clip in its stabilized form. Note that you can go back to the first 3 steps at any time to repair a track or track an alternative feature.

The stabilization is centered around the feature point as it was positioned in the original selection frame in Step 1, so as to make that point fixed in the final output. Be sure to select the feature in Step 1 on the frame that has the feature positioned where you want it in the stabilized clip.

Stabilization can be adjusted using the 2 parameter sliders in the Stabilize section. Smooth Track applies a smoothing filter to help reduce jerkiness in the track. You can see the smoothed version of the track with the Show Track option enabled. In the following example, the green track is the smoothed version of the magenta original track. Higher values smooth the track more.

Auto Scale scales and crops the stabilized clip so that the frames with the largest offset are kept on screen. The default setting of 100% can often be reduced to action safe settings of 80% or less, which increases the amount of the retained image and reduces the magnification of any tracking errors. You should reduce this to the minimum acceptable in the final output.

If there is excessive movement in the original clip generating a heavy interlacing, the final output may contain flicker as the fields are repositioned and scaled during stabilization. Often, you can reduce this by inserting the Video De-interlace filter before the Stabilizer. This will drop some detail but it may be preferrable to the flicker.

You should render the stabilized clip while still working in the Filter tab to ensure that the recorded track is not lost. See the note here about how Final Cut stores the track and when it is will reset the track.

Note also that final renderings in the Stabilize step will not contain any of the track displays that might be visible in the canvas.


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