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How to Stabilize Shaky videos in iMovie [Mac & iOS]?

Sep 18,2018• Proven solutions

Recording perfectly stable footage while holding an iPhone or any other camera in your hand is next to impossible. What's more, we often record videos while walking which results in shaky footage that is not very pleasant to watch. Mac, iPad or iPhone users can easily fix their shaky video clips using iMovie, an app that comes bundled with all latest versions of the macOS.

If for some reason you don't have iMovie on your Mac or you want to install the iOS version of the app on your iPhone or iPad you can download it from the AppStore free of charge. Here's how to stabilize shaky videos in iMovie.

How to Stabilize Shaky Videos in iMovie 10 on Mac?

If you already have iMovie 10 installed on your computer, you should launch it and import the footage you want to stabilize. If for whatever reason, you don't have iMovie on your Mac, you should install it first, and then proceed to import the video clip you'd like to stabilize. Besides enabling you to fix the camera shakes iMovie's Video Stabilization feature lets you correct image distortion caused by rapid camera movement.

Step 1: Place the footage to the timeline and make sure that it is selected. If you don't select the footage the software won't know to which video clip you want to apply the Video Stabilization, which is why it is important to double-check that the right clip is selected.

Step 2: Above the preview window, you'll be able to see the Adjustments bar, that contains icons like Crop of Video Speed. Locate the Stabilization icon and click on it. Proceed to mark the Stabilize Shaky Video checkbox, that is going to be replaced by an activity indicator until the stabilization process is complete.

Step 3: Next to the checkbox, you'll be able to see the Stabilize Shaky Video slider, so all you have to do is drag the slider left or right to increase or decrease the amount of stabilization that is being applied to the clip. You can click on the Play button at any moment to preview the changes you've made to the footage. If you don't like the achieved results you can always click on the Reset button and go through the entire process again. 

It is worth noting that iMovie's Stabilize Shaky Video option crops the footage in order to make it more stable. Dragging the Stabilize Shaky Video slider to 40% will help you remove camera shakes, but the video clip will be significantly zoomed in, which can result in pixelated footage if you are working with low-resolution videos. That's why you must pay close attention to how much of the of this feature you apply to your video clip because if you don't you can end up removing large portions of the shot.

How to Stabilize Shaky Videos in iMovie for iOS?

The iOS version of iMovie is basically a lighter version of the of software that is available on Mac computers. Consequently, the app's video stabilization options are less powerful, although you can still analyze and stabilize your video clips. The process is entirely automatic so you won't be able to control how much of the effect is applied to the footage or how the final product is going to look like.

After installing the app on your iPhone or iPad, you should open the app and create a new project. You can then proceed to import the video clip into the app, click on the File menu and select the Analyze for Stabilization option. The app will analyze the clip automatically and when done it will display it in the timeline. The Gear icon will appear on the video clip, so you should tap or click on it and choose the Clip Adjustments option from the menu. You can then select the Smooth clip motion feature to ensure that your footage is as stable as possible.

Each new clip you add to your project will be automatically analyzed and stabilized if necessary, but if you want all the footage to be analyzed and stabilized every time you add a new clip to the project you're working on you have to repeat the entire process by choosing the Analyze for Stabilization option from the File menu.

The app uses several Stabilize behaviors to reduce the camera shaking in a video clip. It features an advanced motion tracking technique which evaluates every frame of the clip and extracts the motion data without the use of on-screen trackers. On-screen trackers, on the other hand, analyze reference patterns on a small sample of pixels in the frame. However, both of these behaviors are entirely automated and the app's users can't influence the way they are going to stabilize the footage.

The biggest downside of using iMovie iOS app to stabilize your shaky videos is that you have absolutely no control over the process. The app automatically stabilizes the footage, and more often than not it only achieves moderate results.


iMovie is not a powerful video editing software, and although it offers video stabilization options, it is probably best to use some more powerful software or apps to reduce camera shakes in video clips that are really important to you. The iMovie for Mac crops the footage as you increase the video stabilization levels, while the iOS app only offers automatic video stabilization which in both cases limits your options significantly.

Liza Brown
Liza Brown is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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