Category Archives: Final Cut Pro filters

Easy Ways of Animating Masks for Use with Beauty Box in After Effects, Premiere, and Final Cut Pro

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We have a new set of tutorials up that will show you how to easily create masks and animate them for Beauty Box. This is extremely useful if you want to limit the skin retouching to just certain areas like the cheeks or forehead.

Traditionally this type of work has been the province of feature films and other big budget productions that had the money and time to hire rotoscopers to create masks frame by frame. New tools built into After Effects and Premiere Pro or available from third parties for FCP make this technique accessible to video editors and compositors on a much more modest budget or time constraints.

Using Masks that track the video to animate them with Beauty Box for more precise retouching

How Does Retouching Work Traditionally?

In the past someone would have to create a mask on Frame 1 and  move forward frame by frame, adjusting the mask on EVERY frame as the actor moved. This was a laborious and time consuming way of retouching video/film. The idea for Beauty Box came from watching a visual effects artist explain his process for retouching a music video of a high profile band of 40-somethings. Frame by frame by tedious frame. I thought there had to be an easier way and a few years later we released Beauty Box.

However, Beauty Box affects the entire image by default. The mask it creates affects all skin areas. This works very well for many uses but if you wanted more subtle retouching… you still had to go frame by frame.

The New Tools!

After Effects and Premiere have some amazing new tools for tracking mask points. You can apply bezier masks that only masks the effect of a plugin, like Beauty Box. The bezier points are ‘tracking’ points. Meaning that as the actor moves, the points move with him. It usually works very well, especially for talking head type footage where the talent isn’t moving around a lot. It’s a really impressive feature. It’s  available in both AE and Premiere Pro. Here’s a tutorial detailing how it works in Premiere:

After Effects also ships with Mocha Pro, another great tool for doing this type of work. This tutorial shows how to use Mocha and After Effects to control Beauty Box and get some, uh, ‘creative’ skin retouching effects!

The power of Mocha is also available for Final Cut Pro X as well. It’s available as a plugin from CoreMelt and they were kind enough to do a tutorial explaining how Splice X works with Beauty Box within FCP. It’s another very cool plugin, here’s the tutorial:

FCP X Blue Frame (or Screen) Problem : Update FCP Please

We’ve gotten a couple tech report requests about this lately, so it’s worth noting.

In earlier versions of FCP X, there’s a bug where third party effects will sometimes render a blue frame. This was solved in 10.0.9 (I think). So it’s been fixed for some time, but folks need to upgrade (which is FREE).

For plugins to run correctly you REALLY need to update FCP X. This effects all plugin developers, not just Digital Anarchy. I understand the hesitation about upgrading an app that’s working for you, but in this case you really should upgrade. It’s free and will prevent you from eventually running into the problem… probably right in the middle of a big project (when you shouldn’t upgrade) with a plugin you HAVE to use. There’s no way to get rid of the blue frame if it’s happening other than to upgrade.

Here’s a link to the Apple Knowledge base with info about it:

http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4182?viewlocale=en_US

Customers That Piss Me Off

Let’s say you did some work for a client 3 or 4 years ago. A promotional video featuring upper management or something. They come back now and want you to redo the video with current management but everything else can stay the same. Just re-shoot a few people and drop them into the old video. Of course, because this is clearly so easy and they paid you once before, they want you to do it for free. What would you tell them?

We have people do this to us all the time. People who buy a new Mac, upgrade to FCP X, and get all pissy when we tell them they’ll have to buy an upgrade from us. Then they threaten to run off to BitTorrent because, you know, they paid us once four years ago.

It requires a TON of work to keep software working with all the changes Apple, Adobe, Nvidia and everyone else keeps making. Most of this work we do for free because they’re small incremental changes. Every time you see Beauty Box v3.0.1 or 3.0.2 or 3.0.7 (the current one)… you can assume a lot of work went into that and you don’t have to pay anything. However, eventually the changes add up or Apple (most of the time it’s Apple) does some crazy thing that means we need to rewrite large portions of the plug-in. As happened when FCP went from 7 to X. It’s too much work to do for free. We still need to eat and pay rent.

We want to support our customers. The reason we develop this stuff is because it’s awesome to see the cool things you all do with what we throw out there. However, shelling out $199 does not mean we can support you indefinitely. How much money has that software made you or how much time has it saved you in the three or four years since you bought it? We want to support you, but if we go out of business, that’s probably not going to benefit either of us.

We realize most of our customers understand what it takes to keep our software up to date. We are very grateful to you. We also realize forced upgrades suck and understand the frustration that goes with them. (we buy a lot of software too) Just understand that as a third party/plug-in developer we’re highly dependent on other companies. When one of those companies makes a big change, it usually takes a lot of work to keep things running.

Sorry for the rant, just something that needed to be said (and probably won’t be read by the people that need to read it). Just a little blog therapy that breaks most of the rules of Marketing 101. ;-)