Tag Archives: Final Cut Pro

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.

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:

Odyssey 7Q+ .wav Problem – How to Fix It and Import It into Your Video Editor

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We have a Sony FS700 hanging around the Digital Anarchy office for shooting slow motion and 4K footage to test with our various plugins ( We develop video plugins for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Avid, Final Cut Pro, Resolve, etc., etc.) . In order to get 4K out of the camera we had to buy an Odyssey 7Q+ from Convergent Designs (don’t you love how all these cameras are ‘4K – capable’, meaning if you want 4K, it’s another $2500+. Yay for marketing.)

(btw… if you don’t care about the back story, and just want to know how to import a corrupted .wav file into a video editing app, then just jump to the last couple paragraphs. I won’t hold it against you. :-)

The 7Q+ overall is a good video recorder and we like it a lot but we recently ran into a problem. One of the videos we shot didn’t have sound. It had sound when played back on the 7Q+, but when you imported it into any video editing application. no audio.

The 7Q+ records 4K as a series of .dng files with a sidecar .wav file for the audio. The wav file had the appropriate size as if it had audio data (it wasn’t a 1Kb file or something) but importing into FCP, Premiere Pro, Quicktime, or Windows Media Player showed no waveform and no audio.

Convergent Designs wasn’t particularly helpful. The initial suggestion was to ‘rebuild’ the SSD drives. This was suggested multiple times, as if it was un-imaginable this wouldn’t fix it and/or I was an idiot not doing it correctly. The next suggestion was to buy file recovery software. This didn’t really make sense either. The .dng files making up the video weren’t corrupted, the 7Q+ could play it back, and the file was there with the appropriate size. It seemed more likely that the 7Q+ wrote the file incorrectly, in which case file recovery software would do nothing.

So Googling around for people with similar problems I discovered 1) at least a couple other 7Q users have had the same problem and 2) there were plenty of non-7Q users with corrupted .wav files. One technique for the #2 folks was to pull them into VLC Media Player. Would this work for the 7Q+?

YES! Pull it into VLC, then save it out as a different .wav (or whatever) file. It then imported and played back correctly. Video clip saved and I didn’t need to return the 7Q+ to Convergent and lose it for a couple weeks.

Other than this problem the Odyssey 7Q+ has been great… but this was a pretty big problem. Easily fixed though thanks to VLC.

How Final Cut Pro X Caches Render Files (and how to prevent Beauty Box from re-rendering)

What causes Final Cut Pro X to re-render? If you’ve ever wondered why sometimes the orange ‘unrendered’ bar shows up when you make a change and sometimes it doesn’t… I explain it all here. This is something that will be valuable to any FCP user but can be of the utmost importance if you’re rendering Beauty Box, our plugin for doing skin retouching and beauty work on HD/4K video. (Actually we’re hard at work making Beauty Box a LOT faster, so look for an announcement soon!)

Currently, if you’ve applied Beauty Box to a long clip, say 60 minutes, you can be looking at serious render times (this can happen for any non-realtime effect), possibly twelve hours or so on slower computers and video cards. (It can also be a few hours, just depends on how fast everything is)

FCP showing that footage is unrendered

Recently we had a user with that situation. They had a logo in .png format that was on top of the entire video being used as a bug. So they rendered everything out to deliver it, but, of course, the client wanted the bug moved slightly. This caused Final Cut Pro to want to re-render EVERYTHING, meaning the really long Beauty Box render needed to happen as well. Unfortunately, this is just the way Final Cut Pro works.

Why does it work that way and what can be done about it?

Continue reading How Final Cut Pro X Caches Render Files (and how to prevent Beauty Box from re-rendering)

Why Doesn’t FCP X Support Image Sequences for Time Lapse (among other reasons)

In the process of putting together a number of tutorials on time lapse (particularly stabilizing it), I discovered that FCP X does not import image sequences. If you import 1500 images that have a name with sequential numbers, it imports them as 1500 images. This is a pretty huge fail on the part of FCP. Since it is a video application, I would expect it to do what every other video application does and recognize the image sequence as VIDEO.  Even PHOTOSHOP is smart enough to let you import a series of images as an image sequence and treat it as a video file. (and, no, you should not be using the caveman like video tools in Photoshop for much of anything, but I’m just sayin’ it imports it correctly)

There are ways to get around this. Mainly use some other app or Quicktime to turn the image sequence into a video file.  I recommend shooting RAW when shooting time lapse,  so this means you have to pull the RAW sequence into one of the Adobe apps anyways (Lightroom, After Effects, Premiere) for color correction.  It would be much nicer if FCP just handled it correctly without having to jump through the Adobe apps. Once you’re in the Adobe system, you might as well stay there, IMO.

No, I’m not a FCP X hater. I just like my apps to work the way they should… just as I tore into Premiere and praised FCP for their .f4v (Flash video) support in this blog post.

Time Lapse image sequence in Final Cut Pro failing to load as a single video file

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

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

Makin’ the World an Ugly Place (with Free Plugins)

In case you missed it, last week on Halloween we released a free filter called Ugly Box! The blog post is a little late for Halloween (although they are celebrating it in New Jersey today), but if you’re tired of all the election nonesense, there’s still plenty of time to use it to make Glenn Beck more interesting.

Ugly Box: a free plugin for After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and Premiere to make videos look worse!

You can download it here:

http://www.digitalanarchy.com/demos/ugly.html

I think one of the biggest surprises we had when we released Beauty Box 1.0 was that people kept asking us if it could make people look worse. Considering how much detail you can see on HD and how bad some people looked on HD, I didn’t really think there’d be a need for a filter to do that. But… we give our customers what they want though…

With Beauty Box 2.0, you could set Skin Detail Smoothing to a negative number resulting in, yep, Ugliness! It takes the skin texture, amplifies it and sharpens it making your talent either look a bit older or flat out hideous depending on their skin and the settings. Ugly Box, the fitler we’re releasing for free, let’s you use that aspect of Beauty Box. It’s a bit of a one trick pony, you don’t have all the control you do with Beauty Box, but it can definitely make the folks in your videos look a lot worse.

Anyways, all the details are below, so download it for free and have fun with it! I figured it’d be a great Halloween treat for all you visual effects artists and editors doing last minute scary videos (or election videos…). ;-)