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rotoscoping: what to use

SpencerStewart's picture
Last seen: 6 years 5 months ago
Joined: 11/07/2007 - 5:53am
Does anyone have an opinion on what to use for rotoscoping video?
I know it can be done with photoshop frame by frame, but does After Effects or Motion have a more efficient method of rotoscoping? Are there any other programs out there that do a good job?


Ryan3078's picture
Last seen: 8 years 3 months ago
Joined: 12/27/2005 - 3:48pm
Explain more on what you wanted to use rotoscoping for. Photoshop can do it, and I have After Effects too, so if you give an example I can for sure tell you the best program to do it in.

Endeavor's picture
Last seen: 8 years 6 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2005 - 10:15pm
Yes, After Efects can do it with animated masks. After Effects CS3 (comes out today) is supposed to have improved functionality for animating masks. I can't wait to try it!

SpencerStewart's picture
Last seen: 6 years 5 months ago
Joined: 11/07/2007 - 5:53am
Thanks guys.

For an example, lets say there is a talent standing in the middle of a neighborhood, the camera is moving, and I wanted to place a robot behind the talent and/or trees.

What would be the easiest or fastest way to do a fair quality rotoscope of that?

Thanks a lot for the input!

tonsofpcs's picture
Last seen: 6 years 10 months ago
Joined: 06/29/2007 - 4:26am
duplicate the video to have it in a background layer and a foreground layer, cut out everything from the foreground layer other than the stuff that should be in front of the robot, place the robot between the two.

SpencerStewart's picture
Last seen: 6 years 5 months ago
Joined: 11/07/2007 - 5:53am
Right, but which programs are good for doing a fairly accurate rotoscope of the foreground? I would hate having to export all the individual frames, crop the foreground in photoshop, and then put them back in frame by frame. Is there a better method or program to do this? Does rotoscoping always have to be one frame at a time?

tonsofpcs's picture
Last seen: 6 years 10 months ago
Joined: 06/29/2007 - 4:26am

Spencer Stewart Wrote:

Right, but which programs are good for doing a fairly accurate rotoscope of the foreground? I would hate having to export all the individual frames, crop the foreground in photoshop, and then put them back in frame by frame.

You can do that in Mirage without exporting (it is a raster animation/compositing program, basically you have layers like photoshop and each layer has frames).
Is there a better method or program to do this? Does rotoscoping always have to be one frame at a time?

Depending on the complexity of your original footage, it may be possible to track an insertion area [Mirage does this through the 'rototracker'], but usually you will have to at least tweak frame-by-frame when rotoscoping, often you will need to edit many frames.
Depending on your background, you may be able to key out the area (or most of the area) where the robot would be inserted [chroma, luma, etc], making your job a bit easier.

Note: if you want to try it out and see what i mean, mirage had a 30 day full use trial last time I checked.

Ryan3078's picture
Last seen: 8 years 3 months ago
Joined: 12/27/2005 - 3:48pm
For an example, lets say there is a talent standing in the middle of a neighborhood, the camera is moving, and I wanted to place a robot behind the talent and/or trees.


For that, you will not want Photoshop, it would be next to impossible. You will need After Effects for that. For example, I just did a clip today with a moving camera. Two actors were running with a lightsaber keyed in behind a tree and a car. After you get footage of the robot or whatever(it would have to be greenscreened or similar), in After Effects you can place that on top of the original footage. Then you can keyframe it, so that the robot will be in the same position in each frame. Then you can add masks to the robot layer and keyframe those - which is like making parts of the robot invisible when a tree or person would be in front of it. And you will have to go frame by frame for the best result, I really know of no other way.

SpencerStewart's picture
Last seen: 6 years 5 months ago
Joined: 11/07/2007 - 5:53am
Thanks for the input.

I'll have to check out mirage. Sounds pretty promising. The tracking function seems like a dream. Will it work under an NLE, like FCP?

Depending on your background, you may be able to key out the area (or most of the area) where the robot would be inserted [chroma, luma, etc], making your job a bit easier.

I was considering to make a portable green screen to cheat out some of the rotoscoping too. Have it behind the actor, then tape a clean slate, and later composite the robot in-between the two layers. Was that what you had in mind?

It sounds like it would add a lot of time in the edit bay if we had camera movement, so we'll probably just lock all the shots then add pseudo-camera movement in post.

Also, I would like to affirm one last thing: I should record in progressive scan, rather than interlaced, right?

Thanks a lot for your time and information.

Ryan3078's picture
Last seen: 8 years 3 months ago
Joined: 12/27/2005 - 3:48pm
Also, I would like to affirm one last thing: I should record in progressive scan, rather than interlaced, right?


Progressive emulates the look of film more. Also, if you intend to show your film on the computer, use progressive. If there's a chance of showing it on the TV, then use interlaced (which is what television uses). If you will use both, stick with interlaced(although I've had no problems mixing interlaced and progressive yet.)[/quote]

videolab's picture
Last seen: 9 years 5 months ago
Joined: 11/17/2004 - 9:47pm
After Effects is the industry standard for this type of thing on the low to mid-range. Shake and Autodesk products (and AE to an extent) are the standard on the high end.