Speeding Up SmoothCam

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the August, 2007, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Darryl Yee writes:

I recently started reading your FCP newsletter and now look forward to each issue. It’s a great way to learn time-saving tips quickly without having to sift through thousands of forum posts!


I’m not sure if this has been covered already, but, as you know, applying the Smoothcam filter in FCP requires the entire source file to be analyzed regardless of how long the clip is you want to use. I’ve found that right-clicking on the clip and sending it to Motion sends only the frames that you are using and provides similar control over the parameters (including the ability to stabilize and not just smooth).


Go to the Add Behaviors icon in the Tool bar and click Motion Tracking>Stabilize. Make adjustments in the Inspector > Behaviors tab.


Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Sending the clip to Motion from the timeline does not add handles even if a transition is applied.
  • Once your clip is sent, it is replaced in the timeline by the Motion file- there is no way, that I’m aware of, to reconnect it back to the original source. I’ve been option-dragging my not-so-stable clips to a new video track, manually extending handles, and then sending the duplicate to Motion
  • There is no need to export or render the Motion file- you just need to save it before you go back to FCP. FCP handles all the rendering.
  • A fast video card like the ATI X1900 XT makes a huge difference

Thanks again for your time in putting together the newsletter!

Larry replies: Thanks, this is a great tip. Here’s a short cut if you are analyzing in Final Cut because you are uncomfortable working in Motion.

SmoothCam analysis in FCP always looks at the entire clip. To solve this problem, for instance you have a short clip from a long media file, export the clip, including handles, as a self-contained QuickTime movie. Then, reimport the movie into Final Cut and use this shortened clip for analysis with SmoothCam.


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