Morph Cut Transitions

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Jump cuts can be a pain to deal with when cutting interviews and other types of video projects. Sometimes your talent talks too long or you need to hide unnecessary motion. All conventional wisdom says the best way to hide a jump cut is to use a cutaway or b-roll. I wholeheartedly agree and use that wisdom quite often in my own work. However, there are times when those options don’t exist and you are left with jarring jump cuts that can distract or interrupt the piece. Thanks to technological advances in editing software, there are ways to hide a jump using a Morph Cut transition. I’m going to highlight how each of the three top NLEs on the market are able to do this.

Avid Media Composer Fluid Morph

The Fluid Morph effect predates any other morph cut transition that has been brought to the market lately. In this tutorial, GeniusDV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how to use the Fluid Morph effect to hide jump cuts on an interview clip. First, he makes blade edits at certain points, and then adds the Fluid Morph effect. In the Effect Mode panel, he changes a few parameters and sets the duration to three frames long. After a quick render, you see that the Fluid Morph was able to hide the jump cut in the interview. From what I know about diehard users of Media Composer, this effect exists in many of their favorite effects bins.

Adobe Premiere Pro Morph Cut

Introduced back in April 2015, the new Premiere Pro Morph Cut transition works to hide jump cuts between edits. Located in the Dissolve category of Video Transitions section, this transition analyzes in the background and attempts to morph frames together to create a seamless transition from multiple frames. From personal experience, I’ve found this transition works best on interviews with static backgrounds and not a lot of motion from the talent. Otherwise, it can be a hot mess when applied. Overall, I see this transition getting better with time as Adobe engineers improve the code base.

Final Cut Pro X mMorph Cut

This recent release from MotionVFX brings Morph Cut transitions to the world of Final Cut Pro X. For just $59, you can salvage interviews from long pauses, stutters, and mistakes. The transition works fluidly to fill gaps and instantly smooth out shots. I haven’t had a chance to try it out myself, but based on the demos I’ve seen, this seems like a must-have for editors who do a lot of interview work. With all the innovation that FCPX has brought to the table, I was a bit surprised that it took this long to finally get this plugin. I’ve seen tutorials where it was possible to do this but it seemed rather tedious in execution. It’s good to see that FCPX has this ability.

From what you have seen here, the Morph Cut method of hiding a jump cut can work depending on the footage and the circumstances on which you use it. While not perfect by any means, it is a method that can be called upon to smooth out an interview or other type of video project. Try using the Morph Cut method on your next video project and see how it effects your final edit.

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Motion 5 Tutorials

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Since its creation in 2004, Apple Motion has been an application that has evolved quite nicely, despite the fierce competition it faces from other apps like After Effects and Nuke. In its current iteration, Motion provides the plugin architecture for Final Cut Pro X, which means that all FCPX effects are actually Motion templates. With that advantage, users can create just about anything with Motion. Below are a few tutorials where Motion users illustrate how versatile the application is for their workflows.

Creating a Transition for FCPX

This tutorial highlights one of the core features of Motion, which is the ability to create custom transitions. Gone are the days of having to stack layers and utilizing keyframes. With a decent understanding of the Motion interface and its functions, users can create unique transitions to suit their video projects. In this particular example, the author shows users how to create a ripple flash transition from start to finish. When I discovered that you can create transitions and other effects in Motion, I decided to give Motion another try after years of being an After Effects user. I found this tutorial useful because even at the basic level, you can get an understanding of how far you can go with the creation of custom effects.

Animating a Photoshop File

There will be situations where your client wants to create a spot and you have no b-roll. Even worse, you have very minimal images to work with. However, they provide you with a layered, high resolution Photoshop file which you can animate and turn into a motion graphic with a little imagination. In this tutorial, Telemundo editor Brett Gentry shows us how he was able to take a client graphic and turn it into a 30-second spot using a combo of Motion and Photoshop. Utilizing markers, keyframes, and behaviors, he takes what I call a simple “Ken Burns effect” and makes an entertaining spot for an event. I will be first to admit that the Motion interface can be daunting at first glance, but watching how others work in it so efficiently inspires me to learn more.

Creating a Auto Green Screen Keyer with Background

There are projects you receive where the talent was shot on a green screen, and you need to key them out and insert the same background. If this is no more than five people, no big deal. However, if it is multiple talents and it needs to look like they were all keyed and composited the same way, it can become tedious. In the tutorial above, Brett shows us another way he uses Motion to create an auto keyer effect, which will allow him to key not only his talent, but insert/manipulate the background he wants behind them. This is convenient when you need to cut multiple spots or short form videos and time is not on your side. This effect is also a viable solution for the scenario I mentioned above with multiple talents. If you publish enough parameters and include the necessary assets, you can save a lot of time by creating an auto keyer effect in Motion.

Text Behind Glass Effect

I’ve highlighted the effects you can create in Motion for workflow tasks like titles, transitions, and effects, but it is always interesting to see how far one can push Motion to create things you would only expect in After Effects. This tutorial above is a prime example of something I wasn’t sure Motion could create. Editor/plugin author Simon Ubsdell takes a concept that originated in After Effects and creates it from scratch in Motion. Using textures, text layers, blend modes, filters, and behaviors, Simon creates this effect which can be used for promos, documentaries, or identifiers. I have to give kudos for the content that Simon has produced as of late. I’ve always believed the reason Motion wasn’t as popular as After Effects was because of the vast community and gurus that are out there. Seeing a dedicated user showcase Motion capabilities peeks my interest to add this tool to my skill set.

Overall, Motion has matured into a intricate and versatile tool that editors should take the time to learn. The market tends to favor the After Effects user, but every now and then there are jobs for people with Motion knowledge. Knowing this tool can benefit you in the long run.

Sound Effects

Mocha Tracking in Silhouette FX

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Silhouette FX is a dedicated rotoscoping program. Rotoscoping is the process of tracing a video image frame by frame creating a matte for later compositing. Essentially, think of of a father and son throwing a football back and forth in the front yard. What if you wanted them playing catch in a more obvious atmosphere – like a warring alien planet! You will need to rotoscope, or trace, around the father, the son, and that darn football in every single frame of that video clip. Once you are done tracing, you will have a series of black and white images called an alpha matte. Other software can then interrupt the image’s black as transparent and white as opaque. Therefore, the background will be removed, leaving you with just a go-lucky father and son playing catch. Now you can add in a new background, like that warring alien planet, underwater Atlantis, or in front of the great Pyramids of Egypt.

In the past I have shown you how to create an alpha using Silhouette FX, and also rotoscoping with Silhouette FX. This time, I am going to break down how to motion track. This is an advanced technique that is required for reducing the workload of rotoscoping by hand each frame of movement. The idea is that if you can mocha track an entire limb, for instance, throughout a shot, you will be able to apply your shapes using that tracked data and greatly reduce, if not fully eliminate, the need for manual frame by frame adjustments. I will now show you how to mocha track in three basic steps:

  • Setting Up Your Track
  • Tracking
  • Filing and Functionality

SETTING UP YOUR TRACK

Mocha Tracking is a partnership in the newest version of Silhouette from the planar tracking program, Mocha. I use this tracking program the most while working, and I find it to be the most accurate in diverse situations. Mocha is a planar tracker, which means that you create a shape (plane) that, when isolated, you can use Mocha to track from similarities in pattern, color, contrast, etc. The tracking shape will then follow along the path of tracking while storing the information in a layer (known as the tracking matrix). By storing the tracking information in a layer, you are able to add limitless shapes under that layer and the tracking data will apply to each of those shapes. Extremely helpful!

In the scene I am using I have a pair of hands with tracking markers on them. Tracking markers are not necessary, but are helpful in certain circumstances and encouraged if you have a savvy VFX supervisor on set to make those calls.

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To Mocha track, I first need to create a layer in the Object list panel.

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From there, using the B spline tool (it doesn’t matter if you use x, b, or bezier. I just prefer using B spline with human anatomy) draw a shape around the “area” you want to track. Now, I say “area” because you might want to track just the thumb, the index finger, wrist, or something that has a consistent movement throughout the clip. Think of a man walking from the profile view – you wouldn’t track his head and expect your shapes to adhere to the legs properly. You will need to track the head separate from shapes on the head (nose, chin, forehead), the thigh separate from the calf, the forearm separate from the shoulder, and so on. Since each section usually takes 5 – 10 shapes to complete, having a track all of those shapes can follow is a huge time saver. So again, I am going to draw a shape around the “area” I want to track.

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Keep the tracking shape tight around the area you want to track without it being a pixel perfect shape to what you need to roto. It needs some data from the surrounding area to differentiate pattern and movement. At this point, let’s go into our tracker controls.

TRACKING

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Looking at the controls (unless I have a scene where the cameraman is moving around a scene while filming) I generally only want to track the TRANSLATION, SCALE, and ROTATION.

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In Pre-Processing, you can check on PREVIEW and play with the Blur, Sharpen, contrast, etc., until you get a high contrasted image that gives nice shapes and patterns for your tracking shape to follow.

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Now go ahead and Track forward.

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FILING AND FUNCTIONALITY 

Back in the Timeline you will notice the LAYER you created now has multiple keyframes under whats called the TRANSFORM MATRIX.

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This is your tracking storage, and now you can create any number of shapes you need under that layer, and that tracking data will now apply to each of those shapes.

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Notice towards the bottom of the list, I labeled that initial b spline I used for tracking as my “tracking shape” and just locked it and turned it off. That way, if I need to adjust the track down the line, I still have it for reference.

For your reference, here is the video that particular sample clip came from. In this example, you can see how rotoscoping became important for us (me and the other artist working on this clip) in order to strategically animate on new skin tones and iron man hand blasters.

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Rotoscoping with Silhouette FX

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Rotoscoping is the process of tracing over footage, frame by frame, in order to create a matte to be used as an element for compositing over another background. Think of it this way; say you have a three second video clip of a golfer hitting a ball. If you wanted to place that golfer on an alien planet, or deep underwater, playing a round of golf, then you would need to go frame by frame tracing around the golfer swinging his club and then composite over the new background. Rotoscoping is a time intensive process. With the example of the three second video clip of the golfer, at the standard rate of 24 frames per second, that means you would need to rotoscope 72 frames to complete the sequence. In the past, I’ve showed you how to use the rotobrush in After Effects. However, with longer sequences, it’s better to use a dedicated roto program such as Silhouette FX. In this tutorial, I am going to show you the basics of roto with Silhouette FX in two simple steps:

– Breaking the image down into Shapes

– Moving Shapes throughout the Sequence

*Before we begin, if you need help setting up your shot, or need some initial background on Silhouette FX, I would recommend you refer to a previous tutorial I posted titled “Creating an Alpha in Silhouette FX” which you can review here.

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BREAKING THE IMAGE DOWN INTO SHAPES

Once you import your media and setup a new session, you will need to select your spline tool from the left hand side of the canvas window. Your options are B spline, X spline, or Bezier. Please note that if you intend to import the roto’d footage into NUKE for compositing, then you will want to avoid using the X spline tool as there seems to be issues with NUKE interrupting those particular splines. I would recommend going with the B spline in that instance.

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Whichever tool you decide to use is up to you, however, the technique is universally the same. A successful roto is built upon breaking the image down into a series of shapes. In this example of a video clip of some hands, I will focus on the left hand first and break down each finger into a series of ovals and curves that contours around the joints.

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This is because as the video clip progresses and the hand begins to move and flex, moving individual shapes located around the anatomical joints is much easier than trying to create one large outlining shape around the entire hand and trying to move that frame by frame. It doesn’t matter what the roto subject is – a hand, a face, a machine, a book – it is your job as the roto artist to visually break down the subject into a series of shapes and animate those shapes over the course of the footage.

MOVING SHAPES THROUGHOUT THE SEQUENCE

At the bottom of Silhouette you will see the TIMELINE. This is where you will be able to visually see all the keyframes and movements you are making with the shapes throughout the sequence.

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Here are the playback controls:

X – Move one frame forward

Z – Move one frame backward

L – play video forward

K – pause video playback

J – rewind video playback

You can also zoom in and out of your image with ‘I’ and ‘O,’ and SPACEBAR allows you to pan around the image as needed.

As you move forward frame by frame you will not be using the X spline or Bezier tool to move the shapes you created. Instead, you will be using the Transform tool or the Reshape tool:

T – transform Tool > creates a box form around your shape allowing you to manipulate the corners of the box in order to stretch and form the shape. This is ideal for most simple movements between frames. The more basic movements you make, the less chance there is for “jitter,” which is an anchor point from one of your shapes jumping around from being manipulated wrong throughout the sequence.

R – Reshape Tool > this tool allows you to manipulate the individual anchor points of each shape. This should be a last resort method of moving a shape and only needs to be used in shapes that have extreme changes that cannot be captured using the transform tool. An example would be an article of clothing where a wrinkle appears for a few frames and then disappears.

To summarize, you will be using the X and Z keys to move forward and backward one frame at a time and using the Transform tool to move the shapes to capture broad movements, or the Reshape tool to capture fine details. Once your finished, use the J,K, and L keys to playback the footage and watch the shapes to make sure they stay on track with the roto subject. If there is an issue, simply stop the play back and make the adjustment as needed.

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Creating an Alpha Matte in Silhouette FX

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An Alpha Matte is a black and white piece of footage that instructs a program what is transparent or opaque. Think of a family photo – say you took that photo of you and your family in your living room, but you wish you could place them in a more exciting environment. By creating an alpha matte you can instruct a program, such as Adobe After Effects, to only see you and your family and make the background completely transparent. Thus, allowing you to insert a new and exciting background – outer space, the jungle, Paris, etc. I will show you how to create an alpha matte using Silhouette FX in three simple steps:

– Setting up a New Session

– Creating the Alpha Matte

– Exporting the Alpha Matte

SETTING UP A NEW SESSION

When you first open Silhouette FX you will need to import the footage you intend to roto – this may be a video clip or a sequence of JPEGs or DPX images. For this example I will be creating an alpha matte from a single image. To import the footage go to FILE > IMPORT > MEDIA, and then navigate to the desired footage and select OPEN.

You will notice the footage is then added to your PROJECT PANEL for visual reference. At this point, you need to open a new session with this media before you can start to create your matte – think of a new session as a new composition if you are more familiar with an Adobe After Effects pipeline. To create a new session, simply go to SESSION in the top toolbar and select NEW SESSION (or hotkey COMMAND + N). An info window will pop up allowing you to name the session and adjust any settings needed. For this training exercise, keep all the default settings and leave only ROTO checked as the available Node.

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CREATING THE ALPHA MATTE

Now that you are ready to create the alpha matte you will notice a set of tools located on the upper left hand side of the canvas window.

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About halfway down that list you will see an icon that looks like a dot with a curved line and an x – this is the X SPLINE TOOL. Just beneath that is the BEZIER TOOL.

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Both tools are sufficient in completing this task. If you use Photoshop you most likely already know all the subtleties and tricks behind them. I find the X Spline tool better suited for rotoscoping human anatomy. However, if you intend to export your matte to composite into NUKE, there tends to be some ingest errors as X Splines are not supported in NUKE and, in turn, attempts to be converted into faulty Beziers.

To use either tool simply click and select it from the tool set, navigate over the canvas image and click to create an ANCHOR POINT. Move your mouse and click again to create a second ANCHOR POINT. Now you’ll notice a line is connecting the two points. Continue to click around to create your desired shape and finish by returning to the first anchor point you created. Click on it one final time to close and create an OBJECT.

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OBJECTS you create are then stored in the OBJECT LIST window located to the right of your screen.

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You will also notice in the lower right of the OBJECT LIST window is a ‘+” icon – if you click on it you will create a LAYER. You can highlight shapes and drag and store them in these layers you create. Layers are helpful to help sort all of the objects you create for quick reference and control.

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It’s good to break your image down into a series of objects instead of trying to outline the entire subject with one giant outline. It is easier to make adjustments to isolated shapes.

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EXPORTING THE ALPHA MATTE

Once your alpha matte is finished, you are ready to export. Simply go to SESSION > RENDER SESSION (or hotkey COMMAND + R).

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You will be presented with a Render Options window. To ensure you are getting just the alpha matte, uncheck COLOR and make sure ALPHA is the only format checked. For format type, use the drop down menu to select TIFF. Change the range to CURRENT FRAME. Finally, to finish under output, you can select the three dots next to DIRECTORY to be able to set your render destination, input a FILENAME, and hit APPLY.

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You have now successfully created and exported your alpha matte. From here, you can import the matte into another software program, such as Adobe After Effects, and combine the matte with the original image in order to eliminate the background and continue to composite as needed.

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Third Party Green Screen Keyers

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Green screen, or chroma key compositing, has been around since the 1930s. Developed by filmmakers at RKO Radio Pictures, it was used as a method to create complex visual effects that were before its time. Over the years, the process went from a painstakingly analog method to a digital method that can now be done on computers. Programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and the like all have the ability to do basic greenscreen/bluescreen keying if your footage is in the optimal conditions. For complex and intricate situations, post professionals turn to programs like After Effects, Motion, Autodesk Smoke, or Nuke. Despite the programs that have greenscreen keying capabilities, there are many third party companies who have developed plugins to handle even the toughest keying processes. Let’s take a look at a few and see what each have to offer.

Primatte Keyer/KeyCorrect

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Primatte Keyer is Red Giant’s premiere keyer solution for post professionals. Within its array of features are some of the following: auto compute algorithm for pulling a perfect key, key correction tools for refining mattes and backgrounds, and color matcher feature for matching the subject to their background. This plugin is one of the most trusted keying plugin on the market amongst professionals in film (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man) and television (Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and Disney). This plugin is compatible on Mac and PC with programs ranging from Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. I can personally attest to its strengths and abilities as I’ve used it in my work quite often. I find it great to use when Keylight may not be enough to get the job done. For the price of $499, it is definitely a keyer solution to consider if you do a lot of it. Just take a look at its capabilities below.

If you are fine with keying with Keylight, you can get the tools of Key Correct to assist you. Key Correct lets you create perfect keys from an image shot against a colored background. These tools include a Rig/Wire Remover, Light Wrap, Color Matcher, Alpha Cleaner, and many other tools. I’ve personally used Key Correct’s tools on many projects and found it to perfectly complement Keylight when I may have challenging keys. Having both Key Correct and Primatte Keyer are definitely tools you should consider in your post production pipeline.

Boris Chroma Key Studio

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Within the Boris Continuum Complete set is the Key and Blend unit. This unit automates the creation of precise keys with a minimal amount of adjustment. These filters strip away the complexity of chroma keying by automating matting, edge softening and refinement, and light wrapping and reflections to produce seamless composites each and every time. One plugin that stands out is the Chroma Key Studio. The Chroma Key Studio is an all-in-one keying suite similar to Primatte Keyer. It can do everything from screen enhancement, auto-garbage matte and masking, chroma key, matte cleanup, matte choker, foreground color correction, and light wrap into a single filter. In the tutorial below, Kevin P. McAuliffe demonstrates how versatile this plugin is and why it is a suitable solution for keying within your NLE. I’ve used it myself a few times and it is definitely a time-saver if I’m working in Premiere Pro or Media Composer as opposed to shipping it out to After Effects for chroma keying.

PHYX Keyer

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The final keyer plugin on the list is the one from the Phyxware folks. Phyx Keyer 5 is a set of 10 plugins designed to give you even faster and more accurate keys than ever before. These plugins include the FastKeyer, ScreenCorrector, Lightwrap, and SkinTools. These tools have been used by companies such as AT&T, Autodesk, and Fox Sports. These plugins were also used on the feature film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the tutorial above, you get to witness how versatile and fast these set of plugins are, whether you are in an NLE or compositing program. One thing to note about these plugins is that they function on Mac only and are installed through the FxFactory software engine. I’ve personally used the Keyer and other tools in this set, and I have to say that it is top notch. They really have tools to handle even the most difficult keying scenarios.

You’ve seen these industry leading third party keyers and what they can do. Feel free to download a trial and see what the hype is all about. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

Sound Effects

After Effects Keying Tips & Tricks

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Green/blue screen keying is one of the most used post production techniques for putting actors in environments that would otherwise be quite expensive to make happen. A technique that has been around since the 1930s, green/blue screen keying, or chroma keying, is a fundamental compositing technique used on many of the visual effects you see on television and feature films. With all the advances that have been made in post production technology, what would have taken visual effects and editors months to complete can now be accomplished rather quickly. However, as editors or visual effects artists, there are situations involving chroma key that may require more work than just applying Keylight and extracting your actor. I’m going to showcase some products and techniques you can use in After Effects to help for those special situations you may encounter with chroma keying.

Fixing Screen Color

As a post production professional, you may not always be on set to guide the production crew how to properly light their green/blue screen so that it can create an optimal key. When you get the footage, you may have to spend time fixing the green color on the footage so that you don’t run into issues pulling a strong key. The folks from PHYX have a plugin known as Screen Corrector that can help fix the screen color of your green screen footage. You can purchase it from their PHYX Keyer bundle for $139. One caveat about this plugin is that it is for Mac only. If you are looking for a non-third party solution, take a look at this tutorial below for changing the screen color.

The author shows us a technique of using the Selective Color filter to boost the green in the footage to pull a better key. He then goes on to change the white and black values of his alpha matte so it can be used later as a track matte for the green screen footage. I’ve utilized these techniques on projects and found it really helpful. It’s not fool proof, but it’s better than having to settle for a terribly lit screen.

Creating a Lightwrap

A light wrap is a compositing method used to give your actor the illusion that background light is reflecting into the foreground, and helps sell the key as being more realistic. This method is used after you’ve pulled the best key you can to sell the composite better. If you are looking for plugins that can do this easily, look to Key Correct Pro from Red Giant. Their light wrap plugin allows you to take your background of choice and seamlessly blend it with your keyed footage. I’ve used this plugin numerous times, and it has done wonders on my keyed footage. However, you may be working at a site that doesn’t want to spend money on a light wrap plugin, so it would good to know the method for generating one within After Effects.

Media production instructor Andrew Smith shows us how to create a light wrap in After Effects using only native tools. His method includes duplicating the keyed footage twice, using the invert and channel blur filters, and precomping along with track mattes. Looking at the result he was able to generate, I believe this is a great method to know when you need to create a light wrap with no third party plugins. A light wrap is just one method in the process of completing a green screen composite. The color of your subject and the background are just as important.

Color Matching to the Background

One of the many things that sells a green screen composite is how the subject is lit and colored in comparison to the foreground. Not taking the step to color your subject to the background will make your composite look amateur. It’s not as hard as it looks. You can go down the third party route, or use the color correction filters to achieve this. If you chose a third party option, I would recommend PHYX’s Composite Matcher or Red Giant’s Composite Wizard plugin Composite Color Matcher. Both plugins are good at easily matching your foreground with your background. If you want to stay native to After Effects, you can follow this tutorial below.

Motion graphics artist Dries Lambrecht shows us how to achieve this using the Levels filter. It involves manipulating the red, green, and blue channels individually by using the Channel drop down menu in After Effects. This is a preferred technique among visual effects and motion graphics artists, as looking at an image across different channels can give you a much better representation of your highlights, midtones, and shadows. Overall, I found this technique handy when you need to do it quickly, while still paying attention to each RGB channel. These are some tips and tricks you can use for when you are keying your footage and need to make it believable and professional. You can use third party plugins and cut some time off from completing your work, or you can master time tested techniques using what’s available in After Effects. At the end of the day, choose the best method for the task at hand.

Sound Effects

Basic Clone Effect in After Effects CC

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Cloning, or duplicating an actor to give the illusion of a twin or doppelgänger, is a rather quick and easy effect to achieve on a basic level in multiple post production programs. You have seen this effect countless times in numerous films and television shows, and it was developed through the advancement of post production techniques and programs. In this blog entry, I will be explaining the basics of creating the cloning effect, and the “rules” that need to be followed, along with giving you a step-by-step tutorial on how to record and edit your footage together in order to create the effect in After Effects CC.

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THE RULES OF CREATING THE CLONING EFFECT

When you are thinking of creating a basic cloning effect, you have to think of how you will be shooting the scene. Since we are focusing on the basics, the first thing you need to establish is a dividing point in the scene between the clones. What do I mean by that exactly? Well, if you look closely at the video again, you will notice that at no point do the clones cross in front of one another, nor physically interact in any way.

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In fact, this effect was created with one continuous shot. First, I sat on one side of the couch fiddling around with my phone for about twenty seconds or so, then slid down to the other side of the couch, picked up a book and read for another twenty seconds.

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I made sure that I did not reach across or invade the space of where the other “me” would be, and avoided any type of overlap that may have occurred. In After Effects, I will cut this single take and overlap the footage. Then I will create a matte, which will create the ideal clone effect.

To clarify a few points… the reason I captured one continuous shot is because it is absolutely paramount that the two scenes line up perfectly. I mean pixel perfect! By hitting stop and record on your camera, you create a small variance in the camera’s location (aka you move the camera a little bit each time you touch it, even if you don’t think you are). The only way to avoid this is simply by not stopping the recording and capturing everything in one take.

CREATING THE EFFECT IN AFTER EFFECTS 

Let’s take this step by step. Once we record our single take of multiple positions throughout the shot, we can then import the footage into After Effects CC and create a new comp.

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Scrub through the footage and find where the end of the first position occurs (for me this is where I set my phone down, and slide to the other side of the couch). Once you have located the spot in your footage, you can split your footage by hitting CMD+SHIFT+D, or by going to EDIT>SPLIT LAYER.

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You can now CLICK & DRAG your footage on top of one another so they overlap on the TIMELINE.

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Now we need to create a matte in order to reveal both sets of footage at the same time, and give the illusion of a clone. To create a matte, use the RECTANGLE TOOL (shortcut key Q) and click and drag a box around your footage, isolating your second acting position.

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Voila! You now understand the basics of creating a clone in post production and are ready for more advanced techniques (overlapping shots with clones, handing objects from one clone to another, etc.). The last bit of advice I have would be to feather the matte out a bit. To do that, simply click M twice on the layer in After Effects that has the matte, go to MASK FEATHER, and increase the number to about 30. Mission complete!

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Using Overlay Transitions as Alpha Transitions in FCP 7

FinalCutPro_Icon

Final Cut Pro 7 or Final Cut Pro legacy as it’s known in certain circles brought some new features to it that were quite groundbreaking. The feature I found to be the most interesting to use was the Alpha Transition. The Alpha Transition wipe is a transition that combines a clip that either has or doesn’t have transparency with its alpha matte and a wipe matte. In this graphic below, you can see the user interface for this transition.

S1406_AlphaTransUI

In this tutorial, online editing training company GeniusDV explains how to utilize this transition.

I’m going to explain to how to take transitions that are either in the Pro Res codec or different codec and use them with the Alpha Transition wipe.

Using Alpha Transitions from Luca Visual FX

Plugin and motion graphic developer, Luca Visual FX has a collection of alpha transitions that are encoded out in the Pro Res 4444 codec. Due to this encoding, it’s really easy to use this with the Alpha Transition wipe.

Import one of the LVFX transitions into your project browser. Apply the Alpha Transition wipe to the edit point of your clips. Drop the LVFX transition in the drop well labeled Clip. Render the transition and see the result.

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Due to the fact that these transitions were encoded in Pro Res 4444 and have built in transparency, we didn’t need to use the Clip Alpha Matte drop well. The Alpha Transition works best when using the Pro Res codecs. Since these transitions have wipe point built in, we also didn’t need to use the Wipe Matte either. You have this luxury with Luca’s transitions but you may not have this luxury off the bat if you were using transitions from other sources.

Turning Overlay Transitions into Alpha Clips in After Effects.

Now if you have overlay transitions from other sources and you have access to a Mac and the Pro Res codecs, you can use After Effects to convert them into Pro Res for use in the Alpha Transition Wipe.

I have an overlay transition that has embedded transparency and a wipe matte. I’m going place my transition in its own composition and do the same for the wipe matte.

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Once you’ve done that, it’s time to setup the render queue for these clips.

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With both my clip compositions in the render queue, I will set it up so that these become Pro Res clips. Here are the options you should be mindful of.

-If you want your transition clip to maintain its transparency, set it up to be Pro Res 4444 with RGB+Alpha. If you want your transition clip to not maintain transparency, render it at Pro Res 422 or Pro Res 422 LT and leave it at RGB. You will have to duplicate the composition in the render queue and set that to either of those Pro Res flavors but change it to Alpha.

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For the wipe matte, you can choose to render it out at Pro Res 4444 or the other flavors of Pro Res. Just make sure to leave it RGB. After you are done rendering out the clips, bring them into Final Cut Pro and place them in their appropriate drop wells. (the transition clip in the clip drop well and the wipe matte clip in the wipe matte drop well)

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You will now see your overlay transition working as part of the Alpha Transition Wipe with which you can manipulate the timing and other parameters.

As you can see when using overlay transitions, you can easily change their codec and use them with the Alpha Transition Wipe.

I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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Fractal Noise: The Wonder Filter

after effect

For the last 5 years, After Effects has been my go to compositing and motion graphics application whenever I need something beyond the depth of my NLEs. AE has the ability to do a lot of amazing things that would probably take pages just to list. With the filters and options that come bundled with it, the user can take on common to complex post production needs. One filter that I believe stands out above the rest is the Fractal Noise filter. This filter has been the basis of many creative and complex effects. On its own, you can create a myriad of assets such as backgrounds, overlays, textures and more. Of the many templates I’ve used, Fractal Noise has been used in about 80% of them. Within its parameters, a user can manipulate its parameters and create something unique. Used with other filters such as glow, blur and more, the possibilities are expanded. I’m going to show you 3 breakdowns of Fractal Noise designs you can use on your next project.

Background

In this example from author Chad Perkins‘s book Cheat in After Effects 2, I have a fractal noise background which looks like bars of light. The solid is set to 1920 x1080. Within Fractal Noise parameters, the fractal type is basic, the noise type is set to block, the contrast and brightness are modified, the transform settings are modified drastically, complexity is between 2-4 and the evolution is animated over 5 seconds. Combined with the Tint and Corner Pin filter as well as an adjustment layer containing the glow and curves filters, you get this cool animated bar background you can use for a high action title sequence.

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Streaks Overlay

This mograph element is relatively easy to accomplish using the Fractal Noise filter. From this example of Harry Frank‘s Form Backgrounds, he accomplished this by manipulating these fractal noise settings. With composition set to 3000 x 1080, he set the fractal type to basic, noise type to soft linear, modified the contrast and brightness between -100 to 200, transform settings to get the streak look and animated the evolution over 9-10 seconds. He also set an expression for offset turbulence that would affect its position over time. When combined with the Tritone and Glow filters, you get a streaks overlay you can composite into your footage or animations.

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Texture

One of the best ways to use Fractal Noise is when you need an animated texture. With this text layer in my composition, I will place an animated fractal noise solid into my text. Here is my settings and result of my fractal noise below.

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With my text layer above it, I will set my fractal noise beneath to Alpha Matte. Now, my text will inherit the fractal noise as a texture and with some further tweaking, I can get a unique text design that looks something like this.

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As you can see from these breakdowns, Fractal Noise is a versatile filter. On its own, it can create a lot of items. Grouped with other filters, it becomes an enigma of creative awesomeness. Next time you are in After Effects, play around with the Fractal Noise filters and see what you can create. You might create something quite amazing.

I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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Adobe Premiere Pro Quicktip: Matte Remover Presets

Adobe Premier Pro Logo

One of the things about using motion graphic elements is their ability to drastically change the appearance of your footage. For example, I can have a clip of a woman break dancing in a studio, which is a good piece of stock footage. If I were to drop a motion graphic clip of blinking lens flares or perhaps an abstract grunge clip vignette, it would definitely spice things up a bit. Now, some of these motion graphic clips may come with transparency and some may not. That’s not to say it’s any better or worse to have either but should you need to remove a black or white background from your mo-graph clip and a blend mode is not enough, here’s a solution. I will show you how to create 2 presets you can use for removing either a black or white background efficiently. Below is quick voiceless video tutorial demonstrating what steps were taken.

Matte Remover Presets

In order to create this preset, I will use two motion graphic clips, one with a black background and one with a white background. I have 2 items from Rampant Media Design. I will use a transition from their Flash FX collection and a clip from their Grunge FX collection. In my timeline, I have a Flash FX transition on top of 2 video clips. This transition has a black background throughout its animation – because of this, we don’t see any of the video clips underneath. Let’s remedy that.

Clips in Timeline

Flash FX with Black BG

I will show how to create a Matte Remover Black preset. Go to the Effects browser and type in Set Matte. Let’s apply the filter to the transition. Change Use for Matte from Alpha Channel to Luminance. Leave everything else alone. Next, go back to the Effects browser and type Remove Matte. Apply the filter to the transition and make sure the Matte Type is set to Black. Now, if we play our timeline around the transition occurring you’ll see that it no longer has its black background.

Set Matte Filter

Set Matte Applied

Remove Matte Filter

Remove Matte Applied

Matte Remover Black Applied

This same process can be used for white backgrounds as well. In my timeline, I have a Grunge FX clip over some dancer footage. Right now, you can’t see anything because of the white background and black grunge texture. Let’s take out the white background by creating our Matte Remover White preset.

Grunge FX with White BG

To eliminate the white background, all I have to do is apply the Set Matte and Remove Matte filters on this clip. Use the same settings for the Set Matte filter like before except click on the Invert Matte checkbox. For Remove Matte, change the Matte Type to White. Now, all you will see from the clip are the black grunge patterns.

Select Both Filters White

Matte Remover White Applied

To turn these effects into presets for future use, all you have to do is follow these steps. First, highlight the Set Matte and Remove Matte filters in the Effect Controls panel. Right click on either filter and select Save Preset. Name the preset to whatever you choose. For this example, I will name it Matte Remover Black and then hit OK. Repeat these steps for the Grunge FX clip and call that preset Matte Remover White. Now, whenever you have motion graphic clips that don’t have built-in transparency, you can use these presets to take care of that.

Select Both Filters Black

Right Click Filters Black

Save Preset Matte Remover Black

Select Both Filters White

Right Click Filters White

Save Preset Matte Remover White

Matte Removers in Preset Folder

I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you stay creative.

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