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Working with the Refine Edge tool has honestly made me question how much footage I really need to shoot on green screen anymore. I understand that that sounds like a little bit of an exaggeration, but I do really find this tool rather impressive. So, let's explore how to use this tool by double-clicking on Refine Edge Composition. In the timeline, you'll want to make sure that the header pre-comp is selected and then right-click on that layer. Since its a pre-comp, I want to make sure that it opens in the Layer Control panel so I'll just hit Open Layer.
Now, in the Layer panel, make sure your magnification is set to 100% so I'll click on the pull down and enable 100%. Now, so we can see the scene better press the tilde key which is just under the Esc key. You can press the space bar to grab the Hand tool and then left-click and drag to re-position. Now to grab to Roto brush tool, we'll go up to our Tool panel, and on the right side of the Tool panel, you'll see the Roto brush. Now the Refine Edge tool and the Roto brush tool work together. So, you need to use the Roto brush tool to create your initial selection. I'm going to hold down the Cmd key on my Mac. You can hold down Ctrl on Windows and left-click and drag off to make the brush size larger.
You can drag down to make it smaller. Just make sure you're holding down Cmd or Ctrl anytime you want to make a change to your brush size. Now we can just paint inside our person to go ahead and create our initial Roto brush selection. If you want to add to the selection, you don't need to go all the way to the edges. Just click relatively close to the edge and the Roto brush should do a pretty decent job of grabbing the selection. Now, in this area here where there's an open area behind your ponytail, this will require a little bit more detail. So, I'll make the brush a little smaller and hold Option or Alt as I'm clicking and dragging.
This will subtract part of the selection. Now, the fact that it's covered up some of the hair is not that big of a deal, we just want to subtract parts of this image from this area. That's part of the process of using the Roto brush, just making sure that you have your initial selection. Now, this is relatively good enough. This is when we want to use the Refine Edge tool, so if you click and hold on your Roto brush, you can open refine edge. Now with this tool, you want to use as large a brush as possible, to paint along the edge, but you don't want to have a huge edge as your painting.
I'm going to press the space bar and just move up to the top of our scene here, and then I will increase the size of the brush. Now, we can just click and draw along the edge of her hairline here to create a nice, refine edge section. Even though it's outside my Roto brush selection, I can go ahead and paint this, just start drawing on my Refine Edge area. See all the detail that I'm actually getting back into the image using Refine Edge? I could draw a little bit down the front of her face here as well, and it'll just pick up all the fine details.
This area here in the front, I know there is an extra hair there so I'll just go ahead and hold down Option and click and drag. Just like we did with the Roto brush tool to deselect that extra selected area. And on occasion, just like with the Roto brush, you'll need to make the brush size a little bit smaller. Now, you can continue doing this command as you move around the different sections of the hair either adding to or subtracting from your brush strokes. If you find you make a mistake, just press Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z to undo. Now, I'm just going to get the last little section of hair here around the outside, and then I'll draw this tool around the inside section as well. Now, notice on the inside section, it's not functioning exactly the way that I would expect.
So, I'll just press Ctrl+ or Cmd+Z, and then draw a smaller brush, and then we can just click and drag inside this area here. Now notice it's done a little bit better job just drawing the selection of the edge of the hair. We can do the same thing around the edge of our selection up here in this upper area as well. In order to preview the refine edge, you want to go ahead and press Page Down. Each time you press Page Down, it'll take a second to re-compute, but it will figure out where the edge of the hair and the other areas are. The mode that we're working in right now is known as X-ray mode. If you look down in the bottom left part of your Layer panel, you'll see I can toggle X-ray mode on and off.
When I switch to this other mode, it's actually going to preview the alpha boundary through that tool. So, if we want to just look at the alpha, go ahead and click on the toggle alpha section. Here you'll notice it's doing an excellent job of pulling that key. You can scrub up and down in the timeline if you want to actually get a preview as to how well this is working. You may find that you need to go back and make adjustments like up here in this area. This function's just like using the Roto tool natively.
Also just like using the Roto tool, we have our propagation frames down here with the span area. You want to make sure as you go down your timeline making adjustments to the edge, that the span area is increasing. Any time you position your current time indicator outside that span, the Roto brush and the Refine Edge tool will stop continuing to function. Now, once you have a basic selection of the frames that you'd like, then you need to go back to your refine edge options and make adjustments.
I'm going to press the tilde key on my keyboard one more time and open my Effects control panel. Under Effects controls, once you've enabled refine edge, you have the same adjustment options as you had as the Roto brush matte. We can smooth, feather, contrast, shift edge, or reduce the chatter. Now the chatter is created as you move from frame by frame throughout the rest of your timeline. A lot of times, I found, I can turn, reduce chatter to smoother and this will be a more detailed selection of our Roto brush refine edge area.
When it's smoother, it takes longer to process. But what I found, a lot of times, is it gives me slightly better results. Now if you actually want to see what your map looks like, you can change your channel view from Alpha come back to RGB. And here, it's actually showing me how the cutup is appearing in my Layer panel. Now, I could go back to our composition error and create a layer solid underneath our layer to get a better idea. But I think you understand how the general features of this tool work.
When you finish using this Layer brush and refinance tools. And you're definitely sure that you want to go ahead and output what you create you need to make sure to freeze the frames within the scan. So, I'm going to jump back to the Layer panel here for a second, and show you the Freeze button. Make sure you enable Freeze before you finish your process. Now, once you've frozen the frames, you're actually ready for output. Just remember, whatever format you're choosing, you want to output with an alpha channel. Then, you can bring that footage back in and apply some color correction.
And it's going to take a lot less processing power to process the finish result.
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