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Mask points get automatically reduced and misplaced. Why?

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Tom Clasman
Mask points get automatically reduced and misplaced. Why?
on Jan 30, 2017 at 9:59:25 am
Last Edited By Tom Clasman on Jan 30, 2017 at 10:03:38 am

I'm learning After Effects, and I'm experimenting with masks atm. Encountered a seriously annoying problem that I can't seem to solve.

I'm drawing a mask onto a layer, with the pen tool, a mask around a person with her arms stretched out to the sides. I'm using maybe 25-30 point all around her, not too nitpicky. Since she's moving over time, I'm adjusting the position of the points at each new frame. In the mask settings, I got the "Mask path" clock type icon selected to blue, so AE automatically creates new keyframes for the constantly changing mask points around her.

But at some time during this process, it seems AE decides to automatically reduce the number of mask points around her. When I back up and look at the mask on previous frames, frames I already adjusted to my satisfaction, the number of mask points around her are either reduced in number (which makes the mask shape take real ugly shortcuts across her figure) or mask points that were placed along her one side are bunched together on an area covering less than 20pixels, again causing real ugly shortcuts by the mask shapes.

This only seems to happen to frames I previously edited. Not to frames ahead of my current drawing position. But I could be misreading this detail though.
And it only seems to happen where the mask "mass" is thin, for example around her neck and arms/hands. The points around her center mass, shoulders, chest/stomach, hips/legs, aren't affected as much, except for having to make ugly straight shortcuts straight over her to cope with those points around arms and neck that do get reduced/misplaced.

I don't know when this point reduction/misplacing happens. I only see it when I go back frame by frame again. My best guess is it could possibly happen at auto-saving, got it set to 20 mins intervals.
I can't work like this, and I've been diving deep into details about finding a setting which corresponds to this point reduction and bunching together, but I'm just scratching my head so hard I'm getting bald soon. Could really use some more experienced help.

The setup of the editing situation is almost as simple as can be. No inter-dependencies between layers or elements are used. Besides Warp Stabilizer VFX being enabled (Smooth Motion, 50%, Position) it's just straight painting mask points onto a single layer. The Stabilizer settings aren't touched at all during this stage. And I'm using AE CC 2015 on Windows.

Thanks for any input


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Mask points get automatically reduced and misplaced. Why?
on Jan 30, 2017 at 3:13:36 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Jan 30, 2017 at 3:40:28 pm

Strange things can happen to warp stabilized footage. Most people I know prerender any warp stabilized footage. They even create project files for the purpose of stabilizing, then open the new footage in another project because all stabilization data is stored in the project file, which makes project file sizes REALLY big, and they're a pain to deal with.

So export the stabilized footage. Import into the project. Put it into a new comp. Copy-paste the mask keyframes from the old comp and then delete it to get rid of the no-longer-necessary stabilization data.

You don't HAVE to get rid of the old comp, but I would. Or I would put that old comp in its own project so as not to muck up my real project.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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