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Praise and Questions

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Mirko EchghiPraise and Questions
by on Nov 24, 2002 at 11:23:49 am

Hi all,

Yesterday I started using Commotion Pro 4. I admitt, that I had it sitting on the shelf for nearly a year now (It came as a Bundle with my Targa 3K Videoboard). Since I have a Job to do, that is best done with Rotoscoping, I installed Comotion, read through the Manual, the Rotoscoping White Paper, the Archive Forum and actually tried rotoscoping my Files. I must say, that I am very satiesfied with the results (although they are not perfect yet and I have to many points on the Splines and far to many keyframes) and the ease of use of Commotion. I find it very helpful, that the UI is similar to the one of After Effects. I think I will use Commotion a lot for that kind of work in the future.

Since I have to start over my Rotoscoping work, I want to ask a few things that I couldn't find out yet concerning rotoscoping and a few other things:

1) I noticed if I add points on a Rotospline (B-Splines) at a later time, I have to go back and adjust all the previous keyframes. Is that correct or do I something wrong. I assume that is best not to add points, but to start with the spline at a moment in time where the object has the most irregular shape (like a when a head turns from frontal to a profil-shot, to start at the profil-shot, where I have to roto not only the headshape but also the nose that is now sticking out)

2) Is it possible to draw a spline that is only valid for a couple of frames? The Reference-Book (Manual) is very unclear about that. I need to Roto (Mask) out a Person. The Person is standing on the same place, but moves with the upper part of the body. The Legs are mostly apart, but when the person turns the body, the gap between the legs closes. I have drawn a spline for the gap. But what do I do with the spline when the gap closes. Can I turn of my Spline for that moment and turn it on later? I have tried to click the checkbox for the keyframes of that spline, but after klicking on it my whole mask is turned of (that is: the clip is not masked any more in the Comp-Window).

3) Is it possibe to synchronise the clip and the comp window? So if I go back and forth in the clip-window to draw and tweak my splines, the comp-window is automatically synchronised to the time/ frame I'm working in the clip-window. It is possible in After Effects with the Layer-Window and the Comp-Window.

4) I've read in the forum archives, that it is best to deinterlace the footage before rotoscoping. Since the my objects jitter a lot after deinterlacing, I'm not sure where to draw my splines. With that jittering I'm tempted to set a keyframe on every frame. But I can't imagine that this would be the right way to work. Where do you Roto-Pro's draw your splines? Outside of the object with feathering to the inside, full inside the object with feathering to the outside, or on the edge with feathering to both sides? The last would be very difficult with that jittering I mentioned above.

5) It would be very helpful to have a chance to look at a rotoscoped shot and to study the way how the splines are drawn and animated. I have managed to get a manual from commotion 3.0 and there is a tutorial with a rotoscoped ninja (along with rotoscoped motion blur). But I only have the manual not the Tutorial-Files. This tutorial isn't part of the Commotion 4 Manual. Or it is not included with my bundled copy of commotion. Is anyone willing to provide me with an example? Just a few frames and one or two splines?

6) I'm not able to update Commotion Pro 4 to 4.1. The Updater can't find the installed commotion 4 and if I browse manually to the commotion directory it won't install either. What can I do to solve this problem? Is it because I have a bundled version of commotion? (Bundle is written on the splash screen of commotion)

7) Do the PlugIns that come with Commotion (Primatte, Composit Wizard, Image Lounge) work in AE 5.5 and Combustion 2. If not is it possible to have a crossupgrade or something similar? I'm interested to get hold on the full Primate-PlugIn, since I like to have the 16 bit, that the full Primatte provides in AE or Combustion (Is the Combustion keyer not a licensed Primatte keyer? I think i've heard something like that.)

8) Now to the miracle, magic Matt Silvermann Training Tapes. Are the tapes very Commotion specific or can I learn techniques that I can also adapt to over programs like Combustion and After Effects. I'm in need of a book or a training video that teaches me some basic techniques of matte creation. I have the book "The Art and science of Digital Compositing" by Ron Brinkmann, but it is primarly academic overview of compositing and matte creation.

9) And now the last remark. The pinnacle/commotion website isn't really very helpfull. A lot of links don't work and it is really hard to navigate to an information one needs. Will this be fixed in the future?

Thanks for your time

Mirko Echghi

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Mirko EchghiRe: Praise and Questions
by on Nov 24, 2002 at 11:56:30 am

Forget the one about the update to 4.1. I downloaded the wrong updater (the one for Commotion DV). But that has to do with my last remark about the irritating website navigation. Why do I have to type in my name and serial on to get the update but can get it without any hassle on

Mirko Echghi

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Matt SilvermanRe: Praise and Questions
by on Nov 24, 2002 at 6:37:42 pm

1) If you add points at a later time the spline will maintain it's original shape for the previous keyframes with the new point added. This is good, since other apps have problems where adding points ruins the previous keyframes.

2) Yes. In the rotospline plaette open the wing menu to display the rotospline keyframe editor. At each keyframe is a black circle which is the key (for moving keyframe in time), and below that is a small checkbox. If you uncheck this it will turn off the spline at this frame. So if you want a spline to appear at frame 10 and disappear at frame 20, set you keyframes between 10 and 20, then go to frame 9 and move the spline anywhere to set a keyframe then uncheck the checkbox. This will cause the spline to be off from frame 0 to 9, then turn on at frame 10. Then set a keyframe by moving the spline at frame 21, and uncheck the checkbox below the keyframe. Then the spline will be off from frames 21 and up... sometimes it is faster to just drag the spline off the canvas on the frames you do not need it...

3) Yes. In the player palette, turn on the fourth button on the right on the second row. If you roll over it the tool tip says, "Match Comp to Clip".

4) It depends on the shot. If I shoot on film, I always remove pulldown before rotoing since I then have to deal with less frames and I don't have to deal with flicker frames. If I'm rotoing video, I try to avoid de-interlacing unless it is fast motion with serious flicker frames. If it is a pretty static image, I do not de-interlace since I then only roto half as many frames. The jittering sounds like you de-interlaced your clip with the wrong field order. As for inside or outside, generally if I want to cut something out to go into another plate, I draw the splines just inside of the shape. I usually leave the rotospline feathering off and make hard edges, then feather the matte with the Composite Wizard Matte Feather plug-ins in After Effects (these come with Commotion Pro). If I have fast motion I'll turn on Motion Blur on the rotosplines. Sometimes it is better to go a little outside of the shape if you are doing something like turning the element black and white, like Pleasantville. In this example, you'r better off having the BG subtly grayscale than having any color in your foreground element.

5) (Shameless plug)... my Commotion Complete DVD's will cover everything you ever wanted to know... available from

7) The plug-ins in Commotion Pro only work in CommotionPro, similar to how the AE plug-ins that come with AE only work in AE. You need to buy the stand-alone plug-ins for use in AE or other tools. The Combustion keyer is the same as the Discreet keyer found in the Discreet advanced systems like flint, flame, and smoke. It is pretty good, but nowhere as good as Primatte or Ultimatte. We always end up using Primatte in our flint. flame and inferno have an advanced discreet keyer called Modular Keyer, which is exceptional, but you gotta pay to play ($300k+).

8) Yes. My training is really about the concepts more than the button pushing. All of the techniques can be applied to any compositing/roto tool, from Photoshop to After Effects to flame. For example, the advanced matte creation lesson covers channel extractions, garbage masking, articulate rotosplining, matte painting, and other techniques which can just as easilly have been an AE lesson (except Commotion is better for this type of work).

9) Use, and now for Commotion.

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Mirko EchghiRe: Praise and Questions
by on Nov 24, 2002 at 10:13:54 pm

Thanks for the answers Matt. But there are still some things unclear.

1) If I draw a closed B-Spline and add a point, the shape of the spline changes (Somehow the point next to the added one are redestributed). I have checked i a few moments ago.

2) I managed to find some tutorials at due to some extensive google search. I have found these:

There seems to be no direct link to them. I tried out the rotoscoping tutorial this afternoon and after animating a spline around the hat of the girl for about 10 frames I rendered it to a new clip and applied this new clip to the rotoscoped layer as a track matte. Although the splines masked out the hat and the head very good, the rendered mask/track matte does'nt fit. In some frames (these frames have keyframes for the rotospline) the Track-Matte just lies 2-3 Pixels next to my rotoscoped area. In the Frame before or the next frame the Track Matte/ Mask fits perfect. How can this happen?

3) How do you render your rotosplines? To a new clip, to the alpha or to disk. Since you mentioned that you feather your mask in AE with the Composit Wizard Matte Feather PlugIn and since that PlugIn only works with Alphas I assume, that you render the Splines to the alpha of that clip?

Mirko Echghi

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Scott SquiresRe: Praise and Questions
by on Nov 25, 2002 at 3:04:57 am

Any change to the spline should be minimal when additing points. B-spline points will move slightly but the shape should remain very close. As you noted in your first posting try to find the most complex shape frame first and use this as your start.

Your copy of Commotion should have come with tutorials on the CD. The manual does have tutorial step throughs.
You can contact Pinnacle and get a free demo CD that includes some tutorials.

Be sure to look up Digit and Computer Arts Special magazine online (these are UK magazines that have had demo version and had tutorials) Current issue (#37) of Computer Arts Special has some tutorials on the web. Also check MacAddict.

Matte not fitting: If you're using a seperate matte clip make sure it's size, position and fps are exactly the same as the source clip. Also make sure you're saving at full quality (i.e. animation codec) so compression isn't shifting the edges.

To provide feedback on any of the websites email and webmaster at the respective sites.

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Matt SilvermanRe: Praise and Questions
by on Nov 25, 2002 at 6:13:10 pm

1) B-SPLINES will re-distribute the points as scott mentioned. I was referring to Bezier's which other apps have problems with... Bezier's will not change the shape in Commotion.

2) Check the matte clip's properties and make sure the matte has the correct aspect ratio set.

3) I render to disk, usually QT microcosm (or animation) codec 256 grays. I then use this as a lumi track matte in AE, then precomp the fill and matte together and apply matte feather to this precomped layer.

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