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Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot

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Gilbert Daspit
Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 1:36:01 pm

I posted a version of this question in the AE forum and got the suggestion that rotoscoping would be the solution.
Since I'm only working with a :09 video clip, time is of the essence, and I don't know much about rotoscoping, and since the clip is part of an FCP project, I'm hoping there maybe a solution to my problem in FCP. (I appreciate the rotoscoping suggestion but time won't allow).
I'm using FCP, (v. 7.0.3), my interview clip is a bust shot with a rather busy mural in the background. I'd like to blur the mural in the background and keep the subject sharp.
I had the idea I might need a matte and freeze framed a shot from the interview, imported it into Photoshop (CS4 as well) and marqueed around the subject, filled that in to use for a matte. I thought I could solve the problem in AE with the matte but I've abandoned the AE idea. Is there something I can do in FCP with the matte or without it? (The subject is stationary, but there's the customary minor movement you get with a live person, and toward the end of the comment he shifts his feet and moves to the edge of the frame).

Thanks for the help!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:04:47 pm

Yes, you have options.


In FCP, make two identical video tracks, stacked one above the other. Apply a gaussian blur effect to the lower track.

Apply an 8-point masking tool from the "mattes" section of your video effects to the top layer. I'll try to walk you thru it in a cursory way:

Double-click that track to highlight it, go to video effects>mattes or masks>8-point or 12-point masking tool. There is a free 16-point masking tool out there somewhere as a plug-in, but I can't find it. (Someone reading this: if you know where to get one, post a link please.)The more control points you have, the beter and simpler this job becomes. I usually use a 12-point tool, I think (I'm not at my edit computer this second to check) But for a relatively stationary centered-up bust shot, the 8-point or 10-point tool will do.

Open up the filters tab after selecting the tool, and you'll see a vertical/horizontal row of controls for each of the 8 points in the 8-point masking tool.

Select the section for point 1, and a small red crosshair should appear in your working area screen. Mouse drag that crosshair to position the first point just above the person's head.

Select point two, drag it over to the ear on screen right. Point three, put it somewhere along the neck/shoulder area. Keep working these points one at a time, until you have surrounded the bust shot.

There are controls you can turn on and off to allow little white boxes with numbers to appear in the composition, to identify which control point has gone where. You need to lay the points out in a clockwise arrangement around the person. Across the bottom, drag the bottom two points, (4 and 5) low and out of visible frame.


Use the controls for feathering and smoothing the mask, to create a gentle interface between the sharp face layer and blurred background layer that is now exposed behind. Go back to each of the 8 control points and adjust them until you get a satisfactory result.

Now, you've only masked one frame. If the person or camera moves a little bit, and the feathered edge gets too far away from where it needs to be, you can keyframe each of the 8 spots independently. It's not too bad for something like a 30-second shot. Keyframe the first frame, then the very last frame, then the middle frame, and work in both directions outwards from the nmiddle, only setting keyframes where you absolutely see a need to correct for a major change. You'll find the computer does a pretty good job of "in-betweening" or interpolating, between the major key frames you set. So you will NOT have to key frame eevry darned frame. Probably more like a quarter of them or less, in this kind of situation.



Alternate, photoshop-based method to do simple rotoscoping:

Export the frames of the shot into a folder, saved as tiff files, with millions of colors selected, so as to enable the alpha channel. The fames should be named NAME0001, NAME0002, etc. to keep every tenth frame in the right spot.

Open this folder in photoshop. Open the first image in the folder.

Use the "extract" tool/filter in the top drop-down menu. It creates a new workspace with specific tools. The extract filter looks at the pixels in a boundary line you draw, and it decides where the boundary is, based on keeping similar neighboring pixels selected together. It can draw a tight line around a complicated shape much faster than you can do by manually drawing a bezier mask yourself.

This next part goes fast. Use a mouse or tablet stylus to draw a thick green line along the edge of the thing you want to cut out; have the line, which is kind of thick, run right across the edge of the person with a little bit slopping over onto the background and the figure. You are defining the border zone the algorithm is going to look at. You must complete a circle around the object; if you need to, part of your line can go outside the frame.

When you have closed a circle around the object or person, the paint bucket tool in this interface becomes active. Just use that anywhere in the center of the circle you've drawn, I believe it fills with purple. Hit the button on the upper right to see a result. It may be 98 percent right, right off the bat, but OTOH, it might need some minor edge cleaning. There are two tools that look like magnifying glasses on the left side of this interface: you scrub these along the troubling edge, and one adds back content that was removed, while the other erases it, until you have exactly what you want. It takes way longer to read this than it does to do a frame using the extract tool. It is remarkably good.

Now, the fun part is, do the second frame the same way, but before you begin, turn on the stroke recorder. You can automate this process pretty well if the subject truly doesn't move very much. Read up on how to record and apply a batch action in photoshop. it can treat 30 frames in less than 30 seconds, once you set it up right.

Save all the frames in the folder back over themselves, drag the folder back into FCP, into a new bin, where you've per-set the stills duration to 1 frame. Now you can drag all those frames out of that bin and lay them right back into the timeline witha perfect match. Add a new background layer below.


Good luck!


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:22:47 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Double-click that track to highlight it, go to video effects>mattes or masks>8-point or 12-point masking tool. There is a free 16-point masking tool out there somewhere as a plug-in, but I can't find it. (Someone reading this: if you know where to get one, post a link please.)The more control points you have, the beter and simpler this job becomes. I usually use a 12-point tool, I think (I'm not at my edit computer this second to check) But for a relatively stationary centered-up bust shot, the 8-point or 10-point tool will do."

The version of FCP I'm on only has 8 point garbage matte. Doubling that would be very handy for simple stuff like this.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Gilbert Daspit
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:48:32 pm

Thanks to Mark for the 12-point (or more) garbage matte suggestion, I'll definitely try it. I was able to find some free matte plug-ins, along with a few others at this site: http://wiwutv51.com/finalcutpro/finalcut.html


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 4:37:47 pm

Free 32-point mask? Gilbert, thanks, I can do untold amounts of damage with this:-)


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Gilbert Daspit
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 4:00:06 pm

I've got a set of free multi-point garbage mattes -- how to I import them into FCP so they show up in my effects folder?

Thanks.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 4:32:29 pm

If you got the plug-ins as .dmg files, they are usually smart enough to install themselves in the proper spot, once they are on your desk top and you double-click on them. Otherwise, you can unzip tem first, then drag them into your effect folder inside of the final cut folder, in the Applications folder on your main hard drive. I think. Usually such plug ins come with a readme file that will explain how to do it.


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Gilbert Daspit
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 4:52:22 pm

Got info on adding plug-ins, thanks for everyone's help!


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 3:14:43 pm

Hard to say for sure without seeing the shot.
Basically if someone is in front of the mural, you have to have a way to separate them from the BG.
Sounds like you are going to need to either roto, or make a difference matte, maybe corner pinning for the blur and do some tracking-match moving, or manual keyframing. Non of which is really FCP stuff, but typical of the things that can be done in Shake and probably AE. If you generated a matte in AE, I don't understand why you aren't fixing the problem there?
If this is time critical and not something you're familiar with, your best bets are going to be to live with it, or farm it out.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 8:52:48 pm

Well, that is strange... I tried adding the linked multipoint mask plug-ins into my system and no matter where I put them, I can't get them to appear in FCP7.

Shane or somebody; any hints?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need to blur out or otherwise mute distracting background in interview shot
on Jul 3, 2012 at 9:52:48 pm

Never mind: it did work, I was just expecting to find the plugs in a different folder. They show up in a folder with Paul Crisp's name instead.


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