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Rotoscope dancer

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scott strimpleRotoscope dancer
by on Nov 22, 2006 at 12:10:34 pm

Been asked to remove a dancer from a scene "ala fred Astair" dancing with the vaccum cleaner. Anyone have any experience with this kind of thing that can offer some direction using Shake (or some other software) and the time involved for a 4minute scene.



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Burt HazardRe: Rotoscope dancer
by on Nov 22, 2006 at 9:16:45 pm

The quick answer is it's not quick!

I have had some experience with the (now basically defunct) program Commotion using its Roto-Splines and for this kind of effect you basically need:

1) A clean plate of some sort of the background (that you probably can produce from your footage, but not always)
2) Plenty of time!

Mainly in the past I've done Roto-Spline and paint-on type of effects for just 5 or 10 second bits of footage, so you've gotta figure that for 4 minutes, you're talking 7200 (30 x 60 x 4) frames of NTSC video, 6000 (25 x 60 x 4) frames of PAL video, or 5760 (24 x 60 x 4) frames of film. Although I've just started getting into Shake, I think the RotoShape Node is similar in function to Commotion's Roto-Splines in that you create your basic rotoshapes around your people/objects, then tweak at various keyframe points and the splines will "tween"/morph between tweaks (to make your life easier). Then you still usually have to do some fine tuning frame by frame as well, of course.

One thing Scott Squires, creator of Commotion pointed it in its documentation is sometimes to make it easier as well you can use a bunch of roto-shapes on your person or object and divide the masking into simpler areas. And for a dancer in motion your talking about a lot of arms and legs coming into view and disappearing, so yeah it's a lot of work but a good way to learn Shake/rotoscoping I would imagine.

Three requirements for this job are:
1) Make sure you're getting paid by the hour!
2) A stack of your favorite CDs/Records/MP3s
3) A large pot of coffee!

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DeysonRe: Rotoscope dancer
by on Nov 22, 2006 at 9:24:20 pm

Also an intern or someone that can help you out would be nice, (if you are on a tight schedule, divide the work up )

Also I like to work in halves,,, lay one keyfram at one point and then another a few seconds down, then go in the middle and adjust, try to reduce the amount of keyframes or your roto can come out shakey (no pun intented)
The more movement your dancer has, the less space between keyframes.

Also zooming in helps alot when laying out your splines, and finally a little blur goes a long way.

Enjoy and don't forget to blink.. you don't want dry eye syndrome.. :)

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Andrew ShanksRe: Rotoscope dancer
by on Nov 23, 2006 at 1:30:15 am

All great advice (definitely go with individual shapes, try to put keyframes using the cadence of the movement as a guide, plug yourself into some music, it helps keep you going and it can actually become quite calming doing roto, long as you don't have to do it for months on end ;-). Here are a couple of articles Scott Squires wrote on rotoscoping which illustrated the above comments nicely:

Also, if you are going to end up doing a lot of roto work in the future, getting Silhouette Roto is a good idea, ...IMHO its the best roto application out there, allowing layers of roto shapes, ability to track whole shapes or individual points, ability to export roto shapes to different applications (i.e. not just to Shake, but to Flame/inferno and others)and just has a great fluid feel when you're using it.




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Bob BonniolRe: Rotoscope dancer
by on Nov 25, 2006 at 8:50:06 pm


We did a whole bunch of this sort of rotoscopy this year for Sinatra Live at the London Palladium. Way more than I ever want to do again in my life. Here's what we learned:

SO MUCH depends on the quality of the source footage. If it's nice clean scans of 35mm film, that's in good shape, it makes life a whole lot easier. Oddly enough roto work with color footage proved to be easier than B&W. More values to differentiate with.

We used 3 main apps to do the rotoscopy. The bulk of it we accomplished with Mokey and Motor (a subset of Mokey). The Mokey guys were really helpful. In the end we found Mokey to be a bit crashy and required alot of communication to keep it happening... We also used Shake, with methods pretty much as explained in the other posts in this thread. It was ultra stable, but required alot more hands on keyframing than Mokey. We also used Sillouette Roto, which I LOVED. Very smooth, very powerful, pretty simple to assimilate, stable, and fast.

With any of these approaches, the key to getting it right is time. As much time as possible. To do it really perfectly and flaw free is going to require patience and endurance. Roto is a an artform that demands a zen like approach, and a true desire for perfection. Any tosser can define an animated mask and go with it, but getting it all crisp, not losing body parts, keeping shapes correct, avoiding marching strobing matte lines... All of this requires real dedication. There is NO magic solution to this yet... We thought Mokey was it, and admittedly it was a way more advanced approach to simplifying things, but it had it's own quirks that kept us jumping.

Good luck.

Bob Bonniol

MODE Studios
Contributing Editor, Entertainment Design Magazine
Art of the Edit Forum Leader
Live & Stage Event Forum Leader
HD Forum Leader

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andreiRe: Rotoscope dancer
by on Dec 6, 2006 at 7:24:05 pm

There is no other roto software than combustion
that`s all
it is fantastic....the 4th releaase ...

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John Lafauce jr.Re: Rotoscope dancer
by on Nov 26, 2006 at 10:23:21 pm

Hello Scott-

Have you ever seen "Kung Pow - Enter the Fist"? I wrote a Shake tutorial on a shot I composited for that film which demonstrates the type of techniques that could help you with your scene:

Good luck and let me know how it turns out.



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