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Craig Alan
shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 2, 2014 at 6:28:03 am

I have a shot in which a piece of a white china ball is poking into the shot. I am able to mask it in the inspector and color correct inside the mask and match the green background fairly well. But as soon as I apply the keyed effect its as if the mask is not applied. It's not just that the key doesn't apply well in that area. It literally doesn't apply at all. Is there anyway to include this slightly different shade of green in what gets keyed? The other kind of mask (the effect in the keying visual effect window) works fine but wanted to learn how to do this. Maybe its treated as a different layer and can't work?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Don Smith
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 2, 2014 at 4:08:23 pm

It sounds like the china is sticking in over a green-screen although you don't say that specifically.

If I'm right then the simplest way to take care of that is to crop it out. If, for example, the china sticks in on the left, go to the Inspector for the clip and go to the Crop section and crop the left side.

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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 2, 2014 at 5:14:22 pm

Thanks Don,

There is no way in FC AFAIK to crop or transform just the top right corner.

1) Is there?

However I did learn since this post that the mask tool in the media>effects browser does allow me to move the handles (if that is what you call the puck you drag) past the end of the clip. By dragging the bottom puck past bottom right I can create an angle that "crops" the upper edge. Not easy to do since the puck becomes invisible past the clips image in the viewer. I guess I have to learn motion to do this well.

2) Or is there a way to see the mask lines past the frame of the clip?

This is all just practice for me. It was a simple shoot that involved several things I wanted to learn in FC. Multicam, 4 channels of audio, keying, framing problems, lighting problems. We were caught between two game plans. One was green screen and the other involved using china balls as both incidentals and fill lights. Problem being we had no dimmers for the china balls and they were way overexposed. Another approach is to mask the balls, color correct them to whatever exposure and color and use a b.g. to key that would work with them.

Another thing I've noticed is that any vertical movement of a camera against a key looks really awful, like the subject is floating in space.

3) I assume that you could have the b.g. key move with the camera? How?

Again, this is just me trying to grow as an editor not the way I would shoot this stuff myself. But I am working with students and I give them the freedom to make mistakes. Sometimes these "mistakes" look really cool and mostly they don't.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Don Smith
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 2, 2014 at 6:49:39 pm

A couple of 'down-'n-dirty' tricks...

When you say a corner I assume that you mean if you crop from the top you'll cut off the top of the talent's head.

Just duplicate the clip and place above the original. Crop one down and the other one from the side to get that corner. Put both videos into a Compound Clip.

And yes, if the camera rocks vertically the talent will float vertically against a still background.

You can attack this in one of two ways; either hand-track the bg or take the compound clip of the orignal green screen video and its copy and hand-track the top of his or her head to be at the same spot in every frame. That way you don't see any vertical movement. You will have to scale up the compound clip so when the talent is highest in the frame you won't see a cutoff at the bottom. Some will tell you to stabilize the clip and you can try that but it's been my experience that the results will not satisfy.

Hand-tracking like this is not as labor intensive as it sounds. Set a Position keyframe once and then manually advance using the right arrow key and adjust the vertical position. After you set the first keyframe all other adjustments will automatically generate a keyframe. And, you probably have long periods where the camera doesn't move and you won't have to set a keyframe so often.

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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 2:40:45 am

thanks much Don. That's what I was asking. I always find learning to do stuff like this the first couple of times is way harder than the actual process.

For hand tracking are you using the transform tool and scaling in the inspector? I've done this before for different reasons - creating shot variety out of a wide shot. Made me realize why 4K might be a good idea. And general reframing. If that's the tool I've gotten pretty good at it - I set one keyframe in the viewer and then adjust the image as I move the playhead in the timeline - the other keyframes are then set automatically and then use the inspector to increase scale if needed. These are mid shots and MCUs so it's not that hard.

Also I am using a still for the key b.g. and applying a gaussian blur to have it look like we had a narrow depth of field focused on the talent. It works but was wondering if you had any other suggestions. Its a shot of a forest background that has a nice mix of trees and a natural clearance. The idea is to make it look likes it's an outdoor gig. (Again this is all really for my own education, not critical). To my eyes the problem is (and it does look ok) that studio lights don't really match natural light. I tried increasing spill but because the key is a little weak that does not do much. I'm thinking maybe some form of stylized color correction on the studio shots and or outdoor shot.

So creating a compound clip is the only way to work with the keyed image? I can color correct either shot but not the composite until I compound the clip, Correct?

One shot is really too jerky (handheld). I could use a different shot (3 cams multi cam) but would like to correct it if possible. I don't see the stabilize filter. Its a lot of slight up and down movement. I guess I need to go frame by frame and keep her head at the same point in the trees.

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Don Smith
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 3:02:05 am

Yeah, I was suggesting to compound the two green-screen clips so they can be moved in unison when you keyframe the compound clip to track the up and down motion and neutralize its motion.

Matching the lighting is always difficult especially if the talent is indoors and the bg is outdoors.

You can try matching one clip (the compound clip) with the bg clip for color palette. That's a drop-down in the upper right of the timeline window. In the color corrector, bottom right of the window, is a bunch of color palettes. Maybe experiment with applying the same one to both the bg and the compound clip.

Sorry, no magic pill to match indoor and outdoor lighting in post.

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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 4:34:05 am

Hey Don, I tried compounding one of the clips with the keyed b.g.. But it seems impossible to transform the subject up and down in relationship to the b.g. Perhaps I misunderstand.

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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 4:49:48 am

However I did keyframe the motion to keep them relatively level against the b.g. Instead of trying to keep their heads at the same height I used an anchor point ( the Pick Guard of a guitar). Then I toggled through each keyframe and set the scale to 110%. This hid some of the movement. Its ok. bad camera work. Now that it is much better in terms of the subjects not floating around I think maybe a stabilizer filter would do some good. Don't see one though. I could just apply the bad TV filter and pretend we meant for it to look jerky.

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Don Smith
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 10:29:41 am

If you followed my guide to duplicate the green-screen clip so that you can crop the side of one and the top of the other so to cut out just a corner, then, without doing anything else to those clips put them into a Compound Clip. Apply the keyer to the Compound clip. Put the background clip below the Compound Clip.

From the point in the clips where the talent dips down the most, set a position keyframe and raise the talent so that the top of their head is in a spot where you want it to be for the full movie. That will expose the bottom of the talent Compound Clip so scale it up so that doesn't happen. Set a Position keyframe then step through the frames forward from there and then backward from there. Once the first keyframe is set the simple act of moving the Compound Clip up and down automatically sets new keyframes. TIP: Hold the OPTION key while dragging on the Position number to adjust it vertically and by holding the Option key the process 'gears down' and your numbers can be more precisely set.

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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 5:56:42 pm

Thanks so much Don. I misunderstand now, I thought you meant make a compound clip out of the b.g. and storyline clip. I already had solved the crop of the china ball issue with the mask 'effect' by dragging the bottom right puck out past the frame of the shot creating a low angle.

However i will try your suggestion next because I do notice that with the mask tool you loose part of the frame of your shot. Its almost like it remains as an additional layer.

I scaled the entire clip to 110% and double checked that by going key frame to keyframe in the inspector and making sure each was at 110%. That kept the bottom of the shot in frame. I used the bottom of the image rather than the heads to keep the vertical movement as steady as I could. I already know its not well framed or lit but I've learned a lot so far about how to use the tools I am practicing on.

I'm open to whatever comments you might have. You've been a big help. Appreciate it.


mask transform keyframe



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Don Smith
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 6:07:09 pm

Boy, with the talent moving like that you have a tough job trying to manually stabilize. You might try a temporary background that gives you points on a grid or something so that you can better gauge the movement.

I don't know what you mean about using the bottom of the talent clip. If the camera is moving up and down on the talent then the bottom edge of the clip is no reference at all. That's why I suggested the top of their heads. But now that I see them moving so much a better point to stabilize would be some part of the microphone. It's the only part of the talent clip that you know is not moving.

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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 3, 2014 at 7:25:26 pm

Yeah, I needed a grid or at least one point to use as a guide. I actually considered putting a self-stick label with an arrow on it on my monitor.


If you blow this up full screen, I used the three string retainers on the guitar head along the bottom of the frame. They aren't perfect but a lot less movement than I started with. I don't think they are floating around in the image like they were before. But I gather from your comment that it still looks horrible.

Even the fact that you notice the talent moving. The handheld cam was moving a lot too. Again just practice here, too many things wrong with the video to think of it as an end game.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Craig Alan
Re: shape mask in inspector plus keyer
on Jul 5, 2014 at 10:55:43 pm

Hey Don, I learned a lot and then decided to just go with a black b.g. which keys just fine. I have an interview with the lead singer and will use photos she took that concern the story she tells in the song as a keyed b.g. It will be obviously be a keyed b.g. and therefore a bit more forgiving than trying to pretend its on location. It will do and I hope to reshoot with better framing, better sound, better lighting, better b.g. (the green cyc wall was too dark), and use it to teach my students what we did wrong and how to improve.

But you can't beat a mess to learn a lot of new tools in a NLE.

Thanks again for your help.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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