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Editing a Video Frame By Frame In Photoshop Using Pen Tool

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Kamran Ali
Editing a Video Frame By Frame In Photoshop Using Pen Tool
on May 1, 2012 at 3:37:03 am

Hello, first I would like to say this is my first post on this forum, so if ive posted this in the wrong place I appologise.

I'm currently making a film using old black & white/very grainy footage from the 1930's which I aquired from my local archive (note, the film are digitalised).
What i want to do with the footage is use certain "segments" inside each clip and then combine it with a different "segment" to create a new image, making a sort of video collage. For example, in one of the clips I have a man walking down a busy road towards the camera, now what I want to do is cut out the man from the busy road and then use him in a different clip. Its kind of like doing a collage at school, where you would cut up several picture and glue them together to create a new image, except its with a moving image.

So far I have a way of doing it but its to time consuming and I only have a very limited time. I would like to know if theres a quicker way of getting it done.

The way I'm doing it is I've exported the clips from final cut pro as a image sequence and have proceeded to cut out each segment I want frame by frame using the pen tool in photoshop, deleting the background and then after I've done the segment I reinport it back to final cut. now due to each frame being slightly different because of the movement I have to draw around the object wih the pentool again and again for each frame. There are on average around a hundred frames per a segment, with about 40 segments, so around 4000 frames to cut out!

So if anyone knows a quicker way of doing this I would be very thankful. Is there a better programme or tool that would get the job done fast? I'm using photoshop cs4 and finalcut pro 7.

Note Ive tried using actions and batch processing but cant get it to work due to the amount of movement between frames


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Jeff Hinkle
Re: Editing a Video Frame By Frame In Photoshop Using Pen Tool
on May 1, 2012 at 4:21:20 pm

Do you have access to/are you familiar with After Effects? This sounds like a job better suited to that program. If you're not very familiar with AE, no need to learn a lot of new procedures. You could use the same sort of process you're doing now (masking out your element with the Pen tool) but with the benefit of not having to redraw the path every single frame. You set a keyframe for the mask path on various frames and AE will handle moving the path between the keyframes. You'll still wind up with a fair amount of drawing, but far, far less than redrawing the entire path from scratch on every... single... frame.


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Kamran Ali
Re: Editing a Video Frame By Frame In Photoshop Using Pen Tool
on May 6, 2012 at 9:47:56 pm

Hi thanks for the the help. Just recently found out about a program called mocha, which sounds like it does the same thing. have you ever used it? comes with adobe and final cut studio


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Jeff Hinkle
Re: Editing a Video Frame By Frame In Photoshop Using Pen Tool
on May 8, 2012 at 4:27:07 pm

Mocha is a motion tracking system and I've used it a little bit. Certainly no expert. While you can use it to motion track a matte, it's best suited for shapes and hard edged objects. If you were trying to matte, say, a building, or a window pane, or a billboard, and replace the contents with different footage, Mocha would be the way to go. But since your example has a man walking, I have to imagine his shape is constantly changing (arms appearing front and back as they swing, legs scissoring, head bobbing) which is going to most likely be beyond Mocha's capabilities.


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