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Using the Refine Edge tool

From: After Effects CC Essential Training

Video: Using the Refine Edge tool

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.

Using the Refine Edge tool

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

110 video lessons · 50385 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 UPDATED
      59s
    7. Exploring the interface of After Effects NEW
      12m 0s
    8. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache NEW
      6m 20s
    9. Video terminology UPDATED
      4m 24s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects NEW
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions NEW
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers NEW
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation NEW
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects NEW
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D NEW
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render NEW
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements NEW
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects NEW
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers NEW
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes NEW
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics NEW
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques NEW
      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 NEW
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects NEW
      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 UPDATED
      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 NEW
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight NEW
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks NEW
      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? NEW
      2m 24s

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