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VFX Techniques introduces common yet critical visual effects techniques that are used in film and television shows on a regular basis. This installment shows how to build complex composites with Adobe After Effects and mocha, where motion graphics are mapped to live-action footage of an actor. Author Lee Lanier starts by combining rotoscoping and effects to digitally apply makeup to an actor to disguise motion tracking marks. Then discover how to transfer footage into mocha and generate planar tracking data that you can use to motion track graphics to the moving face of the actor. Plus, learn how to build and adjust motion graphics to create the look of a virtual tattoo and a pair of holographic heads-up glasses.
We have disguised the tracking mark dots on the actress's cheek by duplicating the layer, rotoscoping, and applying a blur. You can all the keyframes I have for the rotoscoping. There are definitely many more on the left side where she walks in the frame, and fewer on the right side where she comes to rest. So, it's working pretty well, but one problem is, if I zoom in, I can see that the non-blurry part of the frame, there's a lot of video noise and compression and actually she looks a bit more fuzzy, whereas the blur side is very smooth.
So, that's a problem. We can disguise this however, if we apply a grain tool. So, I'm going to pick the CheekMask layer, go to Effect and go to Noise & Grain. In this case, I'm going to use Match Grain. When you bring up Match Grain, it gives you a little preview window so you don't see really see the result right away. You can click+drag the center of that window and move it over to the part you're working on. I don't see much of a change, so I have to adjust it. The first thing I need to do is make sure it's pulling the grain from some other layer.
Initially, the Noise Source Layer is set to None. I'll switch that to the original Footage. Also, there's intensity. If you go to Tweaking, expand that, there's an Intensity setting. If I go really high, you'll see it right away, here's 10. The Noise Pattern is pulled out of the Footage layer and applied to this layer. That's way too intense though, so I'm going to try 2 instead, just a little bit of noise. We also have a Size setting and some other ways to adjust that grain, but those are good with the defaults in this case.
We're still in the preview mode of this effect, so if I want to see the final version, I'll go to Viewing Mode and change it from Preview to Final Output, and now that noise is placed every where. So, here's without the noise, very smooth, here is with. What's great about this, Match Grain will take the noise from every single frame of the source, so this noise will change along with the footage as it goes across the timeline. Now, this tool, or this effect, is fairly expensive. So, occasionally I'm going to ask you to turn off Match Grain just to save time.
You can always turn it back on later. Now, it's working fairly well, especially with the Match Grain, however, we can still see a little bit of the dots showing through, not only because of the color, because there are white dots, you can see that area where the dots were is a little desaturated, right here, right here, and so on. To solve that, or combat that, what we can do is make another layer based on our current CheekMask layer and do some color adjustment on that. So, I'm going to select CheekMask, Edit > Duplicate, and I'm going to call this new layer CheekMask Color.
Now, all the effects were copied over at the same time. I'm going to add one more though, and that's a Hue/Saturation, Effect > Color Correction > Hue/Saturation. Now, instead of using the normal master sliders up here at the top, I'm going to colorize, and that's a tint, where it tints the entire layer. So if I spin the Hue to 20, 20 for the Colorized Hue, and increase Saturation to 60, what I'm doing is making sure that entire area is much more brownish red.
Now, it's incredibly intense right now, so to reduce that what I can do is go to the Layers Opacity and reduce that. Let's try 40. I'll zoom in. If I turn it off, here is before. You can see some of those white areas where the dots were. If I turn it on, there's more even color with that entire area. Since I copied CheekMask up, I get the mask for free. So this new layer is going to be in the right place the entire time.
We've added Noise & Grain and also a Hue/Saturation Effect to a separate layer, to help improve the quality of our digital makeup patch. We'll be able to use this technique again to help disguise your remaining dots.
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