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Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?

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Phil Williams
Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 8, 2010 at 3:35:45 pm

Is there a straightforward way of generating an adjustable outline around any masked or keyed object? ISTR being able to do this with vision mixers (switchers) back in the old days :)

For example, I often bring custom-designed text in as vector image files, and I want to be able to apply and adjust an outline in the same way as if I had typed the text within Motion itself. Do I just have to duplicate the image and resize/tweak the background one?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 8, 2010 at 7:43:17 pm

Not sure what you're asking- you can easily draw a variety of different mask shapes and types in Motion with the Mask drawing tools.

Noah

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Phil Williams
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:50:07 pm

Sorry I wasn't clear. I was asking if there's a straightforward way of achieving a variable-thickness outline on *any* object I import - as far as I can see, only shapes and text objects generated within Motion have a specific "outline" functionality in the Inspector. It's obviously possible to apply drop shadows to other objects, but a drop shadow is something distinctly different from an outline.

Drawing masks is not really an option, because I would like the ability to create outlines for complex images (such as things created in Illustrator or Photoshop) that would take a painfully long time to mask accurately.

I've tried applying the Outer Glow filter, but that's not really what I need. A plugin that was able to generate an adjustable outline using an image's alpha channel, and preferably with a choice of Colour, Gradient or Texture (as with the text and shape outline controls) would be perfect.

EDIT - let me put it another way. Say I draw an irregularly-shaped mask and apply it to some video, but then I want that mask to have a visible coloured outline (let's say yellow) - how do I do that? Do I have to duplicate the mask, apply it to a yellow solid, place that solid behind the masked video, then resize the solid so that it becomes visible around the edges of the first mask? Or is there a more efficient way?


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Noah Kadner
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 9, 2010 at 2:33:27 am

Try the choke/matte filters- play with the feathering. But it sounds like you would want to draw your own masks for that sort of effect.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera!
Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.
Watch Formosa- My indie movie shot with the SDX900 and finished with Final Cut Studio.


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Phil Williams
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 10, 2010 at 4:42:17 am

[Noah Kadner] " it sounds like you would want to draw your own masks for that sort of effect"

If so, that's one of the infuriating aspects of Motion - it offers some fantastic tools for simplifying complex tasks, but then forces you to employ incredibly time-consuming ways of achieving what should be extremely simple tasks.

After all, thinking logically, if Motion can generate a drop shadow for any object (not just text or shapes), it should be able to generate an outline for any object too.


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Andy Neil
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 10, 2010 at 7:14:58 am

The easiest solution is to draw the mask as a shape using Motion's shape tool. You can use the shape as a mask by applying the image mask to the layer you want to mask and using the shape as the source.

Then duplicate your shape and change the duplicate from fill to outline.

Andy


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Phil Williams
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 14, 2010 at 8:10:57 am

[Andy Neil] "The easiest solution is to draw the mask as a shape using Motion's shape tool"

This is my issue, though... I'm often dealing with extremely complex images created in other applications, which you'd sooner slit your wrists than try and manually draw a mask or shape around. What's even more annoying is that these images typically have their own alpha channel, but there appears to be no way to use that to generate an outline.

I guess the frustration comes from a background working with vision mixers and DVEs in a linear tape suite, where you could easily generate an outline around any image that had a key signal/alpha channel. And as I say, if Motion can generate a drop shadow around any object, then it shouldn't be difficult from a coding perspective to generate an outline too. I guess it's something they just didn't think to do for anything other than text or shapes created inside Motion.


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Andy Neil
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 14, 2010 at 5:38:09 pm

Well, if you're dealing with complex images in Illustrator, then there's a possible solution.

There is a script available that exports Illustrator layers as shape layers in Motion. From there you'd be able to turn off the fill and add an outline to the shape.

If the image was created in Photoshop, then import that into Illustrator and convert it to vector and apply the same script.

Andy


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Mark Spencer
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 14, 2010 at 5:54:56 pm

Except the script will only export simple shapes, no compound paths. But I think you can still make an outline out of an image with an alpha channel - seems like there must be a way - must noodle on this a bit.

--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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Mark Spencer
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 15, 2010 at 5:43:46 pm

Ok, here's how you can do it:

1) Add your image that has transparency.

2) Add the Channel Swap filter and set all the channels to Alpha to create a solid white shape

3) Add the MinMax filter and duplicate the layer.

4) On one layer, set the MinMax to Minimum and adjust to shrink the shape slightly.

5) On the other, set the MinMax to Maximum and adjust to expand the shape slightly.

6) Group the layer with the Maximum setting, add an Image Mask to the group, and drag the other layer to the well in the HUD, then click the Invert checkbox.

There you go, an outline of the alpha channel - and it's completely adjustable through the MinMax filters.

You could save the group containing all the layers to the Library so you just need to swap out the image for your next one.

--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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cowcowcowcowcow
Mark Spencer
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 16, 2010 at 2:30:35 pm

Here's a movie that shows the procedure:







--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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Andy Neil
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 16, 2010 at 4:13:50 pm

Badass, Mark. Really Badass. I don't think I've ever even used the min/max filter before.

This has given me a few ideas. Can't wait to try them out.

Andy


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Mark Spencer
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 16, 2010 at 4:26:43 pm

The outline can be a little chunky so try blurring it - I tried adding a levels filter after blurring to tighten it back up but was surprised that it had no effect.

--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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Andy Neil
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Mar 16, 2010 at 4:35:26 pm

Hmm. I wonder if that's because of the channel swap filter?

Andy


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Phil Williams
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on Apr 5, 2010 at 7:27:08 am

Hi Mark,

I've only just seen this, so many belated thanks! You're a star!


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Jonathan Bierman
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on May 13, 2010 at 1:17:28 am

Amazing video Mark, although it didn't work for me. The Min/Max filter does not seem to affect the size of the alpha'd image... could this be because I am using a still image with a number of masks instead of an image which has transparency inherent in itself?

Perhaps I should mask out the image in Photoshop and then import it into motion?


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Mark Spencer
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on May 13, 2010 at 2:28:50 am

Shouldn't be the issue - really can't tell without seeing the project

--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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Jonathan Bierman
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on May 13, 2010 at 4:05:12 am

well that did solve the problem... I imported the original photo into Photoshop and selected the person in the photo using the wand and the eraser to get the desired and appropriate transparency, then imported the .psd into Motion and the Min/Max feature in conjunction with Channel Swap did work as you describe.

on the image with the masks, I removed the masks and applied the min/max filter to see what would happen, and what it appeared to do was enlarge (using maximum) or "crunch" (minimum) the pixels of the image, rather than enlarging image size itself

sorry, I'm very new at this and totally lack the understanding or the vocabulary to explain myself or the problem accurately... but got there in the end.


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Mark Spencer
Re: Generating an outline for masked/keyed objects?
on May 13, 2010 at 12:58:57 pm

Yes you need the transparency to have an edge to work with. Glad you got it figured out.

--
Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press
http://www.applemotion.net


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