Tag Archives: Beauty Box

Comparing Beauty Box To other Video Plugins for Skin Retouching/Digital Makeup

We get a lot of questions about how Beauty Box compares to other filters out there for digital makeup. There’s a few things to consider when buying any plugin and I’ll go over them here. I’m not going to compare Beauty Box with any filter specifically, but when you download the demo plugin and compare it with the results from other filters this is what you should be looking at:

  • Quality of results
  • Ease of use
  • Speed
  • Support

Support

I’ll start with Support because it’s one thing most people don’t consider. We offer as good of support as anyone in the industry. You can email or call us (415-287-6069). M-F 10am-5pm PST. In addition, we also check email on the weekends and frequently in the evenings on weekdays. Usually you’ll get a response from Tor, our rockstar QA guy, but not infrequently you’ll talk to myself as well. Not often you get tech support from the guy that designed the software. :-)

Quality of Results

The reason you see Beauty Box used for skin retouching on everything from major tentpole feature films to web commercials, is the incredible quality of the digital makeup. Since it’s release in 2009 as the first plugin to specifically address skin retouching beyond just blurring out skin tones, the quality of the results has been critically acclaimed. We won several awards with version 1.0 and we’ve kept improving it since then. You can see many examples here of Beauty Box’s digital makeup, but we recommend you download the demo plugin and try it yourself.

Things to look for as you compare the results of different plugins:

Skin Texture: Does the skin look realistic? Is some of the pore structure maintained or is everything just blurry? It should, usually, look like regular makeup unless you’re going for a stylized effect.
Skin Color: Is there any change in skin tones?
Temporal Consistency: Does it look the same from frame to frame over time? Are there any noticeable seams where the retouching stops.
Masking: How accurate is the mask of the skin tones? Are there any noticeable seams between skin and non-skin areas? How easy is it to adjust the mask?

Ease of Use

One of the things we strive for with all our plugins is to make it as easy as possible to get great results with very little work on your end. Software should make your life easier.

In most cases, you should be able to click on Analyze Frame, make an adjustment to the Skin Smoothing amount to dial in the look you want and be good to go. There are always going to be times when it requires a bit more work but for basic retouching of video, there’s no easier solution than Beauty Box.

When comparing filters, the thing to look for here is how easy is it to setup the effect and get a good mask of the skin tones? How long does it take and how accurate is it?

Speed

If you’ve used Beauty Box for a while, you know that the only complaint we had with it with version 1.0 was that it was slow. No more! It’s now fully GPU optimized and with some of the latest graphics cards you’ll get real time performance, particularly in Premiere Pro. Premiere has added better GPU support and between that the Beauty Box’s use of the GPU, you can get real time playback of HD pretty easily.

And of course we support many different host apps, which gives you a lot of flexibility in where you can use it. Avid, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Davinci Resolve, Assimilate Scratch, Sony Vegas, and NUKE are all supported.

Hopefully that gives you some things to think about as you’re comparing Beauty Box with other plugins that claim to be as good. All of these things factor into why Beauty Box is so highly regarded and considered to be well worth the price.

Beauty Work for Corporate Video

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We love to talk about how Beauty Box Video is used on feature films by the likes of Local Hero Post and Park Road Post Production  or broadcast TV by NBC or Fox. That’s the big, sexy stuff.

However, many, if not most, of our customers are like Brian Smith. Using Beauty Box for corporate clients or local commercials. They might not be winning Emmy awards for their work but they’re still producing great videos with, usually, limited budgets.   “The time and budget does not usually afford us the ability to bring in a makeup artist.  People that aren’t used to being on camera are often very self-conscious, and they cringe at the thought of every wrinkle or imperfection detracting from their message.”, said Brian, Founder of Ideaship Studios in Tulsa, OK. “Beauty Box has become a critical part of our Final Cut X pipeline because it solves a problem, it’s blazing fast, and it helps give my clients and on-camera talent confidence.  They are thrilled with the end result, and that leads to more business for us.”

An Essential Tool for Beauty Work and Retouching

Beauty Box Video has become an essential tool at many small production houses or in-house video departments to retouch makeup-less/bad lighting situations and still end up with a great looking production. The ability to quickly retouch skin with an automatic mask without needing to go frame by frame is important. However, it’s usually the quality of retouching that Beauty Box provides that’s the main selling point.

Example of Brian Smith's skin retouching for a corporate clientimage courtesy of Ideaship Studios

Beauty Box goes beyond just blurring skin tones. We strive to keep the skin texture and not just mush it up. You want to have the effect of the skin looking like skin, not plastic, which is important for beauty work. Taking a few years off talent and offsetting the harshness that HD/4K and video lights can add to someone. The above image of one of Brian’s clients is a good example.

When viewed at full resolution, the wrinkles are softened but not obliterated. The skin is smoothed but still shows pores. The effect is really that of digital makeup, as if you actually had a makeup artist to begin with. You can see this below in the closeup of the two images. Of course, the video compression in the original already has reduced the detail in the skin, but Beauty Box does a nice job of retaining much of what is there.

Closeup of the skin texture retained by Beauty Box

” On the above image, we did not shoot her to look her best. The key light was a bit too harsh, creating shadows and bringing out the lines.  I applied the Beauty Box Video plugin, and the shots were immediately better by an order of magnitude.  This was just after simply applying the plugin.  A few minutes of tweaking the mask color range and effects sliders really dialed in a fantastic look. I don’t like the idea of hiding flaws.  They are a natural and beautiful part of every person.  However, I’ve come to realize that bringing out the true essence of a person or performance is about accentuating, not hiding.  Beauty Box is a great tool for doing that.” – Brian Smith

Go for Natural Retouching

Of course, you can go too far with it, as with anything. So some skill and restraint is often needed to get the effect of regular makeup and not making the subject look ‘plastic’ or blurred. As Brain says, you want things to look natural.

However, when used appropriately you can get some amazing results, making for happy clients and easing the concerns of folks that aren’t always in front of a camera. (particularly men, since they tend to not want to wear makeup… and don’t realize how much they need it until they see themselves on a 65″ 4K screen. ;-)

One last tip, you can often easily improve the look of Beauty Box even more by using tracking masks for beauty work, as you can see in the tutorials that link goes to. The ability of these masks to automatically track the points that make up the mask and move them as your subject moves is a huge deal for beauty work. It makes it much easier to isolate an area like a cheek or the forehead, just as a makeup artist would.

FCP 7 Is Dead. It’s Time to Move On.

It’s been almost 4 years since the last update of FCP 7. The last officially supported OS was 10.6.8. It’s time to move on people.

Beauty Box Video 4.0 (due out in a month) will be our first product that does not officially support FCP 7.

It’s a great video editor but Apple make it very hard to support older software. Especially if you’re trying to run it on newer systems. If FCP 7 is a mission critical app for you, you’re taking a pretty big risk by trying to keep it grinding along. We started seeing a lot of weird behaviors with it and 10.9. I realize people are running it successfully on the new systems but we feel there are a lot of cracks beneath the surface. Those are only going to get more pronounced with newer OSes.

I know people love their software, hell there are still people using Media 100, but Premiere Pro, Avid, and even FCP X are all solid alternatives at this point. Those of us that develop software and hardware can’t support stuff that Apple threw under the bus 3 and a half years ago.

We will continue to support people using Beauty Box 3.0 with FCP 7 on older systems (10.8 and below) but we can’t continue to support it when most likely the problems we’ll be fixing are not caused by our software but by old FCP code breaking on new systems.

Beauty Box Video or Photo Crashing Problems – How to Fix It

Beauty Box makes extensive use of your video card’s GPU (graphic processing unit) to speed the plugin up. Usually this works great and results in the plugin working quickly.

However, it can cause problems. The GPU has a lot less memory than your computer does, so it’s prone to run out of memory. This is especially true when other applications are trying to use it. After Effects, Premiere, Final Cut, and most of the other apps we plug into also use the GPU. So do many other plug-ins. All this software trying to make use of a limited resource can be problematic.

Older video cards are also a problem. Beauty Box is doing some heavy duty processing and the older video cards may not be up to the task. Particularly if you’re using very high resolution video or photos.

So what to do about it? Here’s some fixes:

Continue reading Beauty Box Video or Photo Crashing Problems – How to Fix It

Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 in a Macintosh

All the speed tests we’ve done with Beauty Box on Windows show the Nvidia GeForce video cards to outpace their much more expensive cousins, the Quadros, significantly. A GTX 570 (~$270) is about 25-30% faster than a Quadro 4000 ($800).

Since Beauty Box can involve some render time, we’ve wished that Apple would authorize one of the newer GeForce cards for the Mac. No such luck. So we’re tired of waiting. We took a stock PNY GeForce 570 and put it into our MacPro. And lo! It works!

So… what’d we do and what are the caveats? This was not a 570 with ‘flashed’ ROM. This was just a straight up 570 which we use in one of our PC machines. Nothing fancy. We did need to download a few things:

– Latest Nvidia driver for the Mac, which can be found here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/macosx-304.00.05f02-driver.html

– Latest CUDA drivers for the Mac, which can be found here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/mac-driver-archive.html (as of this writing, v5.0.37 was the latest)

– If you’re using Premiere you need to update the cuda_supported_cards.txt file to add the name of the video card. In this case it would be: ‘GeForce GTX 570’  To do this, you need to go to the Premiere.app file, right+click on it and select ‘Show Package Contents’. Once you do that, this is what you’ll see:

CUDA nvidia opencl adobe premiere macintoshOnce that’s done, you are good to go!

Now that caveats…

Continue reading Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 in a Macintosh

Looking for Avid and Nuke Beta Testers

As noted in our most recent newsletter:

Due to popular demand, we are porting Beauty Box far and wide. Even farther than you might imagine, but you’ll hear more about that over the next few weeks.

For now, we have builds of Beauty Box for Avid and Nuke that we think are working well. We need some folks who actually use these host apps on a regular basis to verify that for us. So if you (or someone you know) might be interested in beta testing, please drop me an email at jim@nulldigitalanarchy.com. Please let me know what platform/program you’re on, if you’ve beta tested before, if you’ve used Beauty Box with other host apps, and if you like fruitcake. We’re pretty flexible about who we allow to beta test, but I draw the line at fruitcake. With eggnog we have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Champagne and snickerdoodles are fine by us though.

We’re very excited about both these apps, so we’re looking forward to getting Beauty Box out there.

avid Media Composer, plugins, plug-in, Foundry Nuke

Beauty Box Photo is a Smash!

Beauty Box Photo has been out for only a few weeks now but we’re really excited by the response from people and the press about it. Angie Taylor gave a great review on her blog, Creative Pro Therapy, as well as Diane Berkenfeld on her blog, Picture-Soup.com.

The example above shows one before/after image with only a little skin correction needed. The example below shows a more extreme example of skin smoothing. The plugin is great for both kinds of situations because it always gives a natural look. Continue reading Beauty Box Photo is a Smash!

Beauty Box enters the CS5 ring…

…And the rest of our contenders are a few steps behind. We are working hard to update and release our products for the Adobe CS5 suite. Keeping up with changes from Apple, Microsoft and Adobe does kinda feel like being in a boxing ring sometimes.

Our first release has been our Beauty Box Video skin retouching plugin for After Effects CS5. We’re very excited about this product being ready for After Effects 64-bit use in a timely fashion. (Boxers are often not good with time management; that’s why they have managers.)

Go here to try the Beauty Box Video demo for Adobe After Effects CS5. Click here to read our line-up of CS5 contenders.

Photo by Maggie Mae Percell, www.maggiemaephoto.com, our favorite anarchist-in-training. “He coulda been a contender!”

regards -debbie

Skin smoothing for kittens?

Yesterday Digital Anarchy did a photoshoot for our Beauty Box product for video skin retouching. Well actually for our Beauty Box PRODUCTS, since we have related product coming out really soon. (Stay tuned for that exciting news!)

We had two terrific models participating in the shoot, which took place at Jim’s apartment. Towards the end of the day, his fluffy cat got curious and investigated the scene. I don’t think that cats need skin retouching but maybe we will come out with a fur smoothing product.

Molotov Cupcake got a little indignant when we booted her from the ‘set’. The model got a little mock indignant when Jim proclaimed that the cutest shot all day was of the cat!

Continue reading Skin smoothing for kittens?

Beauty Box is the ‘plastic surgeon’.

Around the holidays, we received a great compliment about Beauty Box from customer Ross Webb. Beauty Box is our new skin retouching software for video footage in After Effects and Final Cut Pro.

I asked Ross about his work. He said, “My history is around AE but I’m using FCP for this. The footage is owned by me, shot on a canon 7D. It’s glamour and the model had really bad scarring on her face.”

Thanks Ross. We wish great success to your project. And continued success to our skin smoothing product, for which you can see examples here.

2010 is already a ‘beauty”.

On the heels of a wonderful customer email from 2009, I’d like to show you my favorite email from 2010. Never mind that the year is only two days old. This email will quickly become a classic around our office.

Michael Maller emailed us regarding his recent purchase of Beauty Box. This is our new skin retouching software for video footage in After Effects and Final Cut Pro. Michael had some great things to say about the subtle effect that Beauty Box provides when smoothing away wrinkles, blemishes and other skin issues.

Continue reading 2010 is already a ‘beauty”.

Beauty Box model shoot.

Beauty Box has been a very fun product to develop. The best part of releasing our new Beauty Box product, I think, was working with the models who lent their beauty and time. After the photoshoot, we treated their skin with our Final Cut Pro plugin in post-production. This smoothed out their  blemishes, laugh lines and other issues with their skin quality.

Before the models arrived, Digital Anarchy spent the morning preparing the shoot area. We decided to convert the living room of our Chief Executive Anarchist, Jim Tierney, rather than renting a space. His purple velvet couch made a terrific rich backdrop and we hung black striped curtains to frame the shots. Some of the footage was shot outside; luckily the weather held. San Francisco in December can be very cold or very warm, often within the same three hour period.

Sitting in for the models before they arrive:

121609-bbox-preshootdeb

Continue reading Beauty Box model shoot.

Why 3D TV Is A Gimmick

pigs_in_space

Potential 3D content?

I sat next to the manager of the CBS station on a recent flight. Among other things we chatted about 3D TV and it’s purpose (if any) and whether it was just a fad. Particularly since everyone has just upgraded to HD.

HD is the type of technology that lots of people can understand and get behind. It’s ‘un-intrusive’, meaning it just makes everything look better. You don’t notice the technology after viewing it a few times (or until you see an SD show). People watching just see a better picture, so they’re happy, and producers don’t have to dramatically change how they shoot and tell stories, so they’re happy (except for the make-up artists who now really need to cover up those unsightly blemishes and removed tattoos… or they can use Beauty Box :-). Everyone has to buy some new equipment, but otherwise the changes are minimal.

3D is very intrusive. And does anyone really want it? Continue reading Why 3D TV Is A Gimmick