Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Rigid Mask Tracker, part of After Effects CC 2013 New Features.
As I mentioned in the previous movie, my favorite of these new features is the Rigid Mask Tracker. Or mask tracker for short. Now quite often, you have a piece of footage that has an area that you might want to treat in some way to mask out color correct, et cetera. And quite often, those shape stay somewhat consistent throughout the entire shot. For example, this girl's face on the left. Even though she and the camera are both moving, it's rotating, it's skewing a little bit, and just down to the bone structure in her face, it's going to keep roughly the same shape. Well, what the Rigid Mass Tracker does is allow you to draw one mask shape and then updates that mask shape from frame to frame tracking the movements in the underlying footage.
Let's put it to work. Now, in this case, this is a really cute shot of these two little girls playing in the snow, mugging for the camera. But the problem is this girl on the right is brightly lit by the sun, but this girl on the left has her face mostly in shadow thanks to this floppy hat she's wearing. What I'd like to do is slightly brighten her face just to bring it more in line with the face on the right. Now before this updated After Effects, the way you would do this is, mask this, and then change that mask shape from frame to frame as the girl moves, maybe do the same thing with paint. Maybe use a roto brush to try to identify just these colored pixels in her face but it's going to be a little bit tricky because it's pretty close to her neck, and her hat's pink as well.
And roto brush relies at least partially on differences in color. Or you could even take the shot into Mocha AE, which is still bundled After Effects. Create a shape in Mocha that matched her face. Attach it to a tracker that's been assigned to her face. Export the results in After Effects. And use the shape as a track matte. All this would work, all those require work on your part. But with new rigid mask tracker, a lot of this is now somewhat automated. I'm going to select this footage. Duplicate it, so I have a full copy in the background, and a copy on top now, where I can work on just this girl's face.
I am selecting the Pen tool and since I’m going to create just a loose mask color correction, I’m going to use the RotoBezier option. Click some quick points around her face here. I have decided to just her face proper, brighter, no need to make her neck brighter. I want a little bit of distinction between her face and her neck. And also, quite frankly, it would be harder to do her neck plus her face as she rotates her head, the shape that is her face moves in relation to the shape that is her neck.
And that type of change is something that the Rigid Mask Tracker does not like. It wants your shapes to stay somewhat consistent. They can just scale, rotate, move around, etcetera. Okay, now that I have her selected, I'm going to press V to go back to the selection tool. With that layer selected, type M to reveal masks. And very important select the mask, that's the secret opening up of these new options in the Tracker panel. Speaking of which let's go ahead and open uo Window>Tracker, I'm going to drag it next to the compounds. Just make it easier to see what I'm doing.
And you'll notice that I have the very simplified set of choices inside the tracker. If I have no layers selected, you'll see the normal tracker is very full-featured, but with this mass shape selected, it knows that I want to track this mask. And by the way, you can select multiple masks and have them all tracked at once. There's a few choices on exactly what is going to be tracked, just position, position rotation, position scale rotation, et cetera, with perspective being something closer to a poor pane. In this case, since she is moving quite a bit, and rotating, and shaking her head back and forth, I found through trial and error that perspective works better.
For your own footage, you can go ahead and try one of these options, and if it doesn't work so well, undo and try another one, because this feature works pretty fast. With perspective chosen, I will go ahead and track selected mask forward. And you notice that the mass shape is indeed being updated as she rotates and moves her head even when she opens up her jaw a little bit shape is changing somewhat to follow that change which is pretty cool. Let's go ahead and grand preview I'll press the space bar so you can see how this mask moves with her face.
And there are some errors where the mask goes beyond the edge of her cheek, but that's okay. Because these are just normal mask points. At this point, you could select any individual point and edit it. Once the tracker's done, there's nothing special anymore. This is just a normal mask shape. Now, since I'm just doing some simple color correction, this isn't so critical. Although I might want to shrink my mask a little bit just so I don't pick up things like the hat. Now for a correction like this, I find what works very well is the shadow and highlight effect. Shadow and highlight are a couple parameters I use in the Adobe Camera Raw dialog when I'm editing still images.
I like them for this purpose for video as well. I'll make sure the right footage layer is selected, double click, and now it's been applied. The automatic amount's not too bad, but I'll go ahead and manually adjust this. To the amount of brightening that I want. Turn off my mask visibility. Select my mask and type mm to see all the mask parameters. Maybe play around a bit with the mask feather, how soft the transition is and also the mask expansion. Do I want to cover more of her face. Or less of her face. We'll cover right around there, shrinking in a little bit from the edges so I get a nice vignette all off around the edges of her face.
Here's before and after. A cupe around preview. And you'll see that works pretty well, compared to without, where her face was in shadow. Now you can see that the Rigid Mass Tracker will provide a very quick way, just enhance the production value of footage that maybe less than optimal. It's not a cure all. If the shape changes too much it won't work. You might need to try a different methods or the mask expansion parameter actually interacts with the tracker. It helps to decide when that fewer or more pixels bound by that mask shape or used for the track, but overall a really nice edition.
I will go ahead and close all, get back to my starting point and bring the Project panel back forward.
The September 2013 update brought the new Rigid Mask Tracker, as well as additional ways to scale up footage cleanly, while the highlight of the December 2013 update was the ability to convert parametric shape layers to Bézier paths, and Bézier paths into shape layers. The NAB 2014 update shows off important new integration with Adobe Premiere Pro and Typekit, as well major updates to effects. Smaller yet still important new and enhanced features in each release are also touched on throughout. As always, Chris doesn't just show you where these new features are, but how to apply them to your own projects, along with preferred working practices and potential gotchas.
Note: This course was created and produced by Chris and Trish Meyer. We are honored to host this content in our library.
- Integrating with CINEMA 4D
- Using the Refine Edge tool to fine-tune mattes
- Applying Reverse Stabilization
- Preserving scale while stabilizing
- Working with layer snapping
- Finding missing footage, fonts, and effects
Skill Level Appropriate for all
Q: This course was updated on 01/14/2014. What changed?
A: Chris added two new chapters covering updates to After Effects CC. Chapter 5 covers the new Rigid Mask Tracker and footage scaling capabilities and Chapter 6 covers the ability to convert parametric shape layers to Bezier paths and Bezier paths into shape layers.
Q: This course was updated on 5/8/2014. What changed?
A: We twelve new movies, covering what's changed in After Effects CC since the May 2013 initial release, the changes released in October 2013, and the changes announced at the 2014 NAB Show, such as Premiere Pro and Typekit integration, and effects masks.
Q: This course was updated on 11/20/14. What changed?
A: Four movies were updated to reflect changes in After Effects CC 2014.1. Additionally, seven new movies were added, covering changes to the interface, the release of CINEWARE v2 and CINEMA 4D Lite R16, updates to mocha, Dynamic Link color management with Premiere Pro and Media Encoder, and more.