Tam Nguyen Photography

New York Beauty and Fashion Photographer

Fix Auto-focus Mistake for Timelapse Using Adobe After Effect

Posted on November 15, 2012 in Photography, Tips

Fix Auto-focus Mistake for Timelapse Using Adobe After Effect

Last night, I went down to Tudor City apartment complex area to shoot a sequence for my upcoming time-lapse video. When I came home and processed the images that I took into a video, I realized I made a huge rookie mistake: I forgot to turn off auto-focus on my camera. You know that “zoom-in-zoom-out” effect when your camera is trying to focus as you’re recording a video? Imagine that, but with a time-lapse segment. It looks horrible.

Not wanting to go back out and shoot it again when it’s about 35F outside, I resorted to fix the mistake in post. Thankfully, I was able to salvage the footage using Adobe After Effect. The trick is actually quite easy and straight forward, so I thought I’d share it with you guys.

First, you’ll need to import the sequence into AE. Once done, you’ll see the sequence appear in your Project panel. Right click, and then choose ‘New Comp from Selection’. At this point, AE has created a composition for you, with the size of the image’s resolution. You can resize it by right clicking on the composition, and then ‘Composition Settings…’ – mine is 1920×1080, at 24fps.

Your sequence size will be a lot bigger than your composition size. To scale, just click on the Composition panel, and then press ‘S’, and then you can scale it down to your liking. You can also move the composition around with your mouse or with the arrow keys.

At this point, you are ready to fix the auto-focus issue with your time-lapse sequence. In the Effects and Presets panel, search for the Warp Stabilizer tool, and then drag it on top of the composition. It’ll take some time to process the data. Since this is a time-lapse sequence, I chose ‘No motion’ in the stabilizer option.

Once the stabilization is done, you’re ready to export. Here’s the before and after video of the fix. I personally think it’s good enough that I don’t need to go out and re-shoot the sequence. Thank you Adobe, for saving me the work.


  1. john June 24, 2014

    this doesn’t work. Everything goes black. Do you know why?

    • Michael June 25, 2014

      It’s probably analysing, mine went super slow, but my time lapse was 48s from 350 high res photos.

      Author – it might be worth adding it may take a fairly long time to analyse to your post. Also – I used this technique in Premiere as the same effect is available.

      Thanks for the post!

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