After recently purchasing Apple's iLife '09 (admittedly primarily for the iPhoto improvements), I thought I'd give the iMovie stabilization a test. I chose one of my Emerging Tech Talk videos that I recorded with my little JVC camera down at ITEXPO earlier this year:
I just recorded this with Transnexus CEO Jim Dalton out in the hallway outside the conference rooms. I was holding my JVC camera in my hand and trying to brace it against my body to keep it stable.
I honestly didn't really realize how much the image was moving around until I watched it carefully afterwards.
Now here is the version after iMovie '09 image stablization:
What do you think? I thought the stabilization turned out rather well.
From a workflow point-of-view, performing the image stabilization was just another step in the iMovie '09 post-production process. I selected the video clip (the entire segment is one "clip" in iMovie), clicked on the "gear" icon, chose "Clip Adjustments", clicked the checkbox next to "Smooth clip motion", pressed "Done"... and waited. It did take several minutes on my MacBook Pro... I'm not sure exactly how long, but it was a number of minutes.
I've not yet imported any video from my camera since moving to iMovie '09, but it appears that there is a checkbox during the import that you could check so that movies go through the stabilization process during import. Obviously this will lengthen the import process, but would then get you on your way to editing with a smoothed out image.
I'll have to try it out on some other clips, but so far it looks like it could be a useful tool for working with movie clips shot with a handheld camera.