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Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?

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David LawrenceDoes anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 2:20:23 am

Hi All,

I'm wondering if any of you have found a better way to duplicate and reposition keyframed, animated masks on a layer?

Here's a typical scenario:



The frame is a 2048x2048 (2Kx2K) over/under L/R stereoscopic pair. (This is a proxy, the master is 8Kx8K)

I have a moving subject that I want to mask from the background. For my purposes, an animated feathered mask is fine (no need to rotobrush). My mask animates from the start position to the end position.

Now that I've made a mask for the left eye, I need one for the right. I can easily duplicate the mask, but I can't find an easy way to globally offset mask 2's path keyframes.

The only workable solution I've found is Mathias Möhl's excellent KeyTweak tool:

http://aescripts.com/keytweak/

I select the mask path keyframes for mask 2 and KeyTweak them into place on the right eye part of the frame:



Is there a better way to do this? Expressions maybe? Frankly, this seems like something that should be really easy and would useful to a lot of people.

What's needed (feature request) is a position attribute for masks that's separate from the position attribute for the layer. This would easily solve the problem and seems pretty straightforward to implement. Make sense?


[Walter Soyka] "Out of curiosity, what is the last 10% of the challenge that you can't cover in Premiere? Maybe someone here would have a suggestion, or maybe there's a good area for a feature request."

Premiere's native masking tools are very good. At first, I thought they could handle everything since they're so easy to make and duplicate. The problem is once you add any keyframes to a mask, you can no longer copy it. This forces me into After Effects.

I guess for Premiere, the feature request would be to enable duplication of keyframed masks or somehow allow copy and pasting of path keyframes between masks. But again we run into the postion offset problem so for this to be useful, there'd need to be a mask position attribute as well.

The other issue is that it feels like Premiere is working much harder to keep up with complex masks. I can feel it straining compared to AE. Also, I've had some major rendering bugs getting out from Premiere with lots of complex masks. For now, my workflow is set rough masks in Premiere, then finalize and animate in After Effects.

Anyway that's what I'm up to. Any advice much appreciated!

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Roland R. KahlenbergRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 2:53:47 am

Have you tried Effects>Distort>Transform ?

HTH
- Roland

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David LawrenceRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:32:40 am

[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "Have you tried Effects>Distort>Transform ?"

I don't think that will work because it transforms the layer. I only want to offset the mask. Am I missing something?

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Dave LaRondeRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 3:55:36 pm

I guess I wouldn't even bother with masking. I'd try chroma keying if those two cow graphics are on colored backgrounds. I bet you'd get a great key.

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


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David LawrenceRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 4:11:58 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "I guess I wouldn't even bother with masking. I'd try chroma keying if those two cow graphics are on colored backgrounds. I bet you'd get a great key."

lol, I'd love to be able to chromakey but that won't be possible for the kind of video I'm working with.

In case it's not clear, my samples above are just placeholders to illustrate the problem. The cow represents a person who's outside in a public location. The difference between start and finish is the person moving in live video. Hence the need for masking.

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Dave LaRondeRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 4:19:30 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Oct 27, 2015 at 4:30:57 pm

I guess this person you'll shoot is in some sort of environment that precludes chroma keying. Perjhaps it's a live event. Perhaps the subject is running through waves coming ashore at the beach comes to mind.

But I can't think of much else! I'd plan out the shot to match chroma key subject to background plate and shoot them separately.

Or maybe I should just stay out the discussion. I don't think I'm getting your intent.

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


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David LawrenceRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 4:51:24 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "I guess this person you'll shoot is in some sort of environment that precludes chroma keying."

This is exactly right. Imagine a live, outdoor event with many people throughout the day. The camera is a 360 degree stereoscopic camera:

https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/jump/

I don't need to replace the background so I don't need the precision of chromakey. I do need to isolate moving subjects and masking works well.


[Dave LaRonde] "Or maybe I should just stay out the discussion. I don't think I'm getting your intent."

Let me try to be more clear because I'd appreciate your insight.

Let's say I have a path keyframe animated mask. I want to duplicate that mask and move the copy to a different part of the layer, while keeping all the animated movement.

Is there a better way to do this than using the KeyTweak workaround I've described?

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Dave LaRondeRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 5:51:43 pm

[David Lawrence] “I do need to isolate moving subjects and masking works well.”

Well, finally the light comes on in the refrigerator. This is to be used simply to highlight an individual. Precision masks aren’t important.

I don’t know how well that masking gizmo works in PP – never used it. I’m an FCP legacy guy. I assume it can do animated masks that change shape. If people are walking around, turning, waving to others, jumping up & down, what have you, the shape of the mask will have to change even if it doesn’t need to be precise. If the mask can be even less precise, such as the subject highlighted by an ellipse, the task is easier.

If you’ve proven that it works with moving people on test 360-degree footage, you should be set. No test yet? You should. You can use poorly-lit, crummy-looking footage just to prove the workflow.

My concerns come when other people & things pass in front of the masked subject. It’s only inevitable that it will happen. I don’t know how big a deal that is in your case.

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


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David LawrenceRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 6:48:49 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "If you’ve proven that it works with moving people on test 360-degree footage, you should be set. No test yet? You should. You can use poorly-lit, crummy-looking footage just to prove the workflow."

Oh we've done tests. And they work beautifully. I wish I could show you some screen grabs because it's really cool and as far as I know, no one has done anything like it before. Hopefully soon.


[Dave LaRonde] "My concerns come when other people & things pass in front of the masked subject. It’s only inevitable that it will happen. I don’t know how big a deal that is in your case."

It's an issue and I've been dealing with it by hand rotoing the masks and being careful about layer order. It works. We have the attention of an in-house researcher who's developed algorithmic methods of doing this based on her advanced computer vision research. It's truly mind-bending stuff and I hope we'll find a way to incorporate it into our workflow.

My problem isn't creating a complex animated mask. I can do that just fine. My problem is I need two identical copies of the animated mask on different parts of the same layer - one for the left eye and one for the right.

Remember, my single layer is actually a over/under L/R stereoscopic pair with the left eye on top and the right eye on bottom. After I've perfected the animation of the left eye mask at the layer top, I don't want to re-do all of that work for the right eye on the layer bottom. In fact, to avoid stereoscopic artifacts, it's actually crucial that both masks be as identical as possible.

I simply need to duplicate the left eye mask with its path animation and move the copy to the lower part of the layer for the right eye. It should be simple. Duplicating a mask is easy, but the path keyframe animation references the absolute position on the layer. I need the duplicate mask to have a relative position offset so that it's path animation stays the same relative to itself, but the mask's position on the layer is anywhere I choose to put it.

Make sense? Any advice?

_______________________
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Dave LaRondeRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 9:22:09 pm

If these thought wouldn't work, then I for one am out of suggestions. There are a lot of ifs in them.

IF you can duplicate an animated mask, and IF you can reposition said mask, you would spend a lot of time getting one shot right the 3D effect. You'd then have a horizontal & vertical offset you could apply on subsequent shots... I think. I don't know how the parallax would affect mask placement.

If you can't duplicate an animated mask, you might be able to create a B&W matte from it, which could then be repositioned.

That's all I got. This is some crazy, cutting-edge stuff you have going, sir.

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


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David LawrenceRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Oct 27, 2015 at 11:00:50 pm

[Dave LaRonde] "IF you can duplicate an animated mask, and IF you can reposition said mask, you would spend a lot of time getting one shot right the 3D effect. You'd then have a horizontal & vertical offset you could apply on subsequent shots... I think. I don't know how the parallax would affect mask placement."

It's actually not an issue, the camera takes care of all of that for me. All I need to do is duplicate an animated mask and move it to a different part of the layer.

[Dave LaRonde] "That's all I got. This is some crazy, cutting-edge stuff you have going, sir."

It's definitely on the bleeding edge, lol. Thanks anyway. ;)

_______________________
David Lawrence
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Walter SoykaRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Nov 2, 2015 at 2:12:16 pm

[David Lawrence] "All I need to do is duplicate an animated mask and move it to a different part of the layer."

You might consider using an offset duplicate of the masked layer as an alpha track matte.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
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David LawrenceRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:19:14 am

[Walter Soyka] "You might consider using an offset duplicate of the masked layer as an alpha track matte."

Thanks Walter, I was curious what you might recommend.

The problem with an offset duplicate of the masked layer as alpha is it would become unwieldy very quickly for a couple reasons -

1) Even though the duplicate mask is maybe 95-99% correct, I still need to make minor adjustments because of differences between the left and right view. Doing this interactively on a separate alpha layer would be a challenge.

2) I will potentially have dozens of masked layers in the comp so even with precomping, keeping layers to a minimum is helpful for organization purposes.

Working with masks directly on the layer is really the easiest, most interactive workflow I can think of.

Is a mask offset property really that unusual a need/request? I have a hard time believing that I'm the only one in the 20+ years of AE that would find it useful. I'm really surprised that this seems so hard to do. With everything AE does, it seems like it should be a no-brainer. Does it seem like it would be difficult feature to implement?

_______________________
David Lawrence
art~media~design~research
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Walter SoykaRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:37:36 am

I'd say your use case shows that Ae's masking overall is somewhat naive and calls for improvement. Submit your feature requests -- not just for what you want, but for what you want to accomplish.

In the meantime, have you considered mocha for your roto?
https://www.imagineersystems.com/videos/whats-new-in-mocha-4-stereo-3d-trac...

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Ross ShainRe: Does anyone have a better way to reposition keyframed, animated masks?
by on Nov 5, 2015 at 11:38:14 pm

mocha Pro v4 added some really great tools for stereo 3D offsets. Essentially all the mocha planar tracking, masking and object remove tools were updated to perform the functions on stereo footage.

Some 3D stereo workflows employ an offset for disparity, but mocha does a cool trick where it actually tracks the difference between the L & R footage and automatically creates the offset. This is especially relevant for footage that changes depth.

Anyways, check out these tutorials: http://www.imagineersystems.com/video/?tagFilter=Stereo%203D&dd=dateNew&ord...

I believe the combination of mocha Pro and AE is a great workflow for S3D effects and compositing. Otherwise, you might want to look at NUKE or Fusion which have a more evolved workflow for stereo than AE. Hope this helps.

Ross Shain
Imagineer Systems
http://www.imagineersystems.com


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