Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rotobrushing is hard...

A friend of mine had recently asked me if I'd be willing to help him with some sign replacement shots for his upcoming cinema project.  Not knowing anything really on the subject itself, but knowing that there were plenty of resources and tutorials on how do such a thing, I agreed to help him and then went straight to to find some videos that related to the process.

Thankfully, I found exactly what I was looking for with a tutorial that shows how to place a new computer screen over an existing one.  It goes through motion tracking the shot in Mocha AE, bringing it back into After Effects and adjusting it for the shot.

What really made this tutorial series so interesting is all the techniques that are used to make it look more realistic, the one trick that was especially clever was the creation of shape layer with a gradient, and then using that shape layer for the screen's blur map.  This helped the screen emulate almost perfectly the depth of field that was in the shot, and it made it look way more realistic.

However, the hardest part of the whole process was rotobrushing the hands that were moving in front of the computer screen, because it definitely takes way more than to just blur it in the same fashion.  For those who are unaware, rotobrushing involves a very tedious process of identifying a section of a video layer to be masked out and put over the footage to make it perfectly seamless.  Think of it almost like using the selection and refine edge tool and Photoshop for nearly every single frame.  It does beat using the pen tool to create masks over and over again though...

But it seems like something I can do.  If I managed to make three stop motion animation films in the past two years that all involved adjusting something frame-by-frame this doesn't seem like it'll be out of my reach.  Only time will tell.

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