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Introducing the Roto Brush

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Introducing the Roto Brush

The Roto brush is one of those amazing tools that can take a tedious job and make it more than bearable. And in our example, we're going to use the Roto brush to isolate our snowboarder from this background. Now, to see what we're dealing with, let's run a RAM preview of the video clip. It's pretty shaky footage. And the fact that it's a white snowboard on a white background sometimes would be a little bit frustrating. But, I'm going to press this space bar and stop playback here.

Introducing the Roto Brush

The Roto brush is one of those amazing tools that can take a tedious job and make it more than bearable. And in our example, we're going to use the Roto brush to isolate our snowboarder from this background. Now, to see what we're dealing with, let's run a RAM preview of the video clip. It's pretty shaky footage. And the fact that it's a white snowboard on a white background sometimes would be a little bit frustrating. But, I'm going to press this space bar and stop playback here.

Let's start at the beginning of our timeline. Press Home on your keyboard. Now with our current time indicator at the start of our composition, double-click layer one to load it into the Layer panel. As a general rule, when you go to apply the Roto brush, you want to be working at 100% magnification. I'm going to press the Tilde key in the upper left corner of our keyboard. That'll maximize this panel. And if you press Shift+ Forward slash, that'll maximize our view in the scene.

Now it's only at 82% based on the magnification of my monitor, so I'll go ahead and just increase this magnification up to 100%. And since I know what I'm trying to isolate is in the lower left corner, I'll just press the space bar to grab my Hand tool, and move up to my lower left hand corner. The Roto brush toll is towards the right side of your toolbar. It looks like a little guy and a paint brush. If you click on it, that will select the tool and you can see our brush. To adjust the size of the Roto brush, you can press Cmd on the Mac or Ctrl on Windows, and then left click and drag up to make it larger. Drag down to make it smaller.

I want to make it relatively large, and then I'll start by clicking on my snowboard and drag around. Now, I don't need to go all the way out to the edges to make my initial selection. I can just click and drag down the inside. And when I let go, the Roto brush will automatically try and figure out the edges of my stroke. Now before we go on and start dealing with multiple frames, we should refine this brush stroke. See how in this area is hasn't quite selected enough of his leg.

So, we can go ahead and click and draw with our brush, just over the edge of that stroke. And then, it'll go ahead and add to the selection. In areas like here, in front of the knee, if you hold down Option on the Mac or Alt on the PC, you can draw a stroke over that brushstroke. Again, you don't have to go right up against the leg and let go. Since that decreased the size of what I was looking at, it did a relatively okay job. But I need to get a little bit more detail in here. This would be the time when you want to have a smaller brush stroke.

So, press Cmd on the Mac, Ctrl on Windows, left click and drag down to have a smaller brush. Now hold down Alt or Option, and then click and drag and you'll get this minus brush stroke. Once we draw through that, here you can see it's done a much better job of isolating this area. You could be as picky as you want, but once you get something relatively close, you should be relatively good with that one area. Now, I'm going to continue adding to the stroke here, over the snowboard. And down here on this right side of the snowboard. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of impressed at the quality of the selection. If you look down at this lower part of the board, it doesn’t have very much contrast between the two different sections.

It’s a white board on white snow yet it’s still managing to find edge. Press Page Down to move down one frame. Now that we've moved one frame down, you can see the Roto brush has adjusted for the scene and attempted to redraw another successful stroke. You'll have to make adjustments, like here at the tip of the board. I'll go ahead and just click and paint over that one area just to get that one extra section of the board. Each time you make an adjustment to a stroke, the Roto brush will propagate down the timeline. So, to show you what I mean, if you look in the lower left corner of the timeline, you'll see this light gray area and these hash marks. This is letting me know the number of frames that the Roto brush has loaded based on my initial key selection.

My initial key selection is noted here by the yellow dash. Now, what I recommend yo do is to keep going down your timeline by either one frame at a time or every couple of frames, and then stopping. So, I'm going to press the space bar just to move down a couple of frames. Notice the Roto brush is doing a relatively good job of making adjustments. But on occasion, you'll want to stop and make a correction. Let's say I want to de-select this area. I'm going to hold down Option, and click and draw across. Every time you stop to make a selection, the Roto brush is going to populate more frames down the timeline.

It's loading individual frames or groups of frames like this because it takes a lot of individual processing power to figure out how to select these areas. Now once you know you have a group of frames you want to save, you can go ahead and freeze those frames. Go to the right side of your Layers panel and you'll see a Freeze button. If you click on that Freeze button, that will go ahead and freeze those frames into your cache. So, it's not always trying to recompute those selections every single time you look at those frames. Then, once you've got all your stuff selected and everything cached off to freeze, you can get ahead and render out.

Either image sequence or a QuickTime movie or Windows Media with an alpha channel. That would allow you to then input that footage into your future projects and place it over any background you see fit. I think, it's a heck of a lot easier than having to do it frame by frame manually using old school Roto techniques.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects CC Essential Training
After Effects CC Essential Training

110 video lessons · 51039 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 30m 55s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    3. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    4. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    5. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
    6. Different ways to use After Effects
      59s
    7. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    8. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    9. Video terminology
      4m 24s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 27m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    5. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    6. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    7. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    8. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    9. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    10. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    11. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    12. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 55m 24s
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    3. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    4. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    5. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    6. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 1h 43m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    2. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    3. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    4. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    5. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    6. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    7. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    8. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    9. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    10. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    11. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    12. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    13. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    14. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 29m 3s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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