Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Rotoscoping with paths

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Rotoscoping with paths

In this video, we're going to learn about what I would consider one of the more tedious parts of motion graphics, and that's the process of rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is the process used to cut an element out of it's background. In our project today, we're going to use Mask pass to rotoscope a hand and isolate it from this football field background. Let's get started by positioning our current time indicator down the timeline. When you go through the process of trying to choose what frame you want to start your rotoscoping on, you want to consider how complex the object is. It's always better to have too many points when you start then not enough. That will just make the mask animate a little more smoothly. So, looking at our scene, to me it looks like frame 2205 is where we should start creating our Bezier path.

Rotoscoping with paths

In this video, we're going to learn about what I would consider one of the more tedious parts of motion graphics, and that's the process of rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is the process used to cut an element out of it's background. In our project today, we're going to use Mask pass to rotoscope a hand and isolate it from this football field background. Let's get started by positioning our current time indicator down the timeline. When you go through the process of trying to choose what frame you want to start your rotoscoping on, you want to consider how complex the object is. It's always better to have too many points when you start then not enough. That will just make the mask animate a little more smoothly. So, looking at our scene, to me it looks like frame 2205 is where we should start creating our Bezier path.

Go up to the Tool panel in the upper left corner and click on the Pen tool. To start drawing the path, I'm going to start slightly off the edge of my canvas. Now, if you click off the canvas and then click down, to create the next point. You can click and drag, to draw out Bezier handles. This will allow me to create curves in addition to just straight edges when I click to create the mask points. Now for the sake of this demonstration, I'm going to make this mask kind of quick and dirty.

The tip I'm going to give you when your creating a mask is to use as few points as possible in the smooth areas. In the more detailed areas, you'd probably be safe just to go ahead and create more mask points. Just understand the more mask points the more processing, and more importantly, the more rough the edge of your mask is going to end up being. So once you finish drawing around the edge of the hand, hover your pen over your first anchor point. And you should see that circle. Now when you click, that'll close the path.

Notice with the path closed, it'll go ahead and make the background color standout in your composition. In order to get a better idea as to what I'm masking and what I'm not, I'm going to go ahead and double-click (SOUND) on the video file in my Layer panel. This way I have access to these three buttons, and the button I use most often is Toggle Alpha Overlay. This way, I get a nice red background and it still allows me the ability to see the parts of the hand that I may have accidentally cut off.

Now, even though I have the Pen tool selected, if I hover the mouse over any of the anchor points I've already created, I get a Selection tool. So it's easy enough to just click directly on a masked path point. And then re-adjust the handles of the mask. Once you get a general shape that you like, go ahead and press M on your keyboard to open the mask path keyframe. Now we can add a keyframe by clicking the stopwatch right next to the words mask path. So the process of rotoscoping is literally drawing a path in one frame and then going to the next frame and making changes to that path.

I'm going to press Page Up to move back a frame in my timeline. When you need to reposition multiple points on your path, if they're all selected like they currently are now, you can click on one of the anchor points and then click and drag, and reposition the whole thing. That's always a good start. Then, if you hold down the Command key, you can just click off of the shape, and that'll deselect all the points. Now, when I hover over the individual mask points, I could click and drag just on the individual points, and reposition the mask to get a good edge.

Now while working this way is a very good start for creating that clean edge for your mask, you want to go ahead, and feather the edges of your mask in the areas where the images have a fair amount of blur. And you can do that with the Mask Feather tool. I'm going to press G on my keyboard to toggle to my Mask Feather tool and it literally looks like a feather. This will allow me to go ahead and click on any anchor point or any section of the mask. I'm going to hold down Shift and position over a section of the mask.

And now when I click and drag, I can draw out a feather just over that one section. If I just click over a point and drag, then I can feather the whole thing. And I could do the same thing if I clicked on a point and dragged inside, I could feather inside as well. With the mask overlay set like this, I'm having a hard time seeing my mask. So I can go ahead and toggle the Alpha by clicking the Toggle Alpha button. The button in between shows me the alpha boundary, which kind of shows me the edge shape.

Using this option is nice to look at your progress, because sometimes it calls your attention to parts where the mask is offset from whatever it is you're trying to isolate. Now, if you want to get even more detail, make sure to zoom in as you're working, to make sure you're working at 100% magnification. I'm going to press the Spacebar and left-click and drag. So here, since I've magnified in, I can see that this section has popped out. I'm going to press G to move back to my Pen tool. And that will allow me to just click right on my one anchor point, and then re-position it.

That's a brief overview of the process of rotorscoping, just so you can see how the mask moves after you've created your first key frame, I'm going to re-size the scale of this by choosing Fit up to 100%. And, I'll switch back to my Toggle Alpha Overlay and just deselect the layer so you can more clearly see the edge of the path. Now once you've looked at your mask and you've animated everything and rotoscoped your video, then it comes time to actually place that video over your new background.

Now, just to give you an example as to what that looks like, I'm going to go up under the Layer menu, and create a new layer solid. Now, this solid I'll make, let's say, blue. And then click OK, and click OK. Now, with my blue solid in my timeline, I can go ahead and drag that below Layer 2. Now obviously, this blue color solid could be any layer. And most likely, for something like this, you'd probably want to build your own custom graphic. But if we jump back into our composition view, here is where you can actually see what your work is going to look like. Notice even thought the edges of the mask are a little too wide, the feathered version looks a little bit better than the non-feathered version, just because it gives you a little bit more of that realistic look, with the edge blurring that was happening on the edges of his thumb. Now if you're willing to put in the time, the process of rotoscoping, while tedious, ends up being rewarding especially when you can look at what you've done and remember all the work that went into that one shot.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

110 video lessons · 51248 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

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed After Effects CC Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.