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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.
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