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Floating mouth effect?

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Rachel Adams
Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 14, 2009 at 3:46:16 pm

Hi,

I'm new to after effects and i want to do something specific. I have some old video footage of one person singing and I want to just have the mouth moving around, eventually being turned into a black shape moving on a white background. Hope that makes sense.

Any suggestions would be great.

Rachel


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 14, 2009 at 5:46:40 pm

What you're proposing to do is neither easy, fast nor fun.

Singers MOVE when they sing. They move back and forth and side to side. They tilt and turn their heads. They turn to different parts of the audience to sing. In short, they move in three dimensions.

So how do you isolate the mouth? You will need to animate a mask around the singer's mouth, frequently on a frame-by-frame basis. This is called rotoscoping. If you search for the term here on the COW, you will find much written about it.

Then there's the black shape: you can create that out of a black solid In AE, no problem. Just keep in mind that to be totally convincing, this black shape's movement will have to synchronize with the mouth you just spent weeks cutting out. More rotoscoping.

Oh, here's another thought: is the singer's microphone on a stand or hand-held? What do you propose to do when the mic passes in front of your oh-so-carefully rotoscoped mouth? Ignore it? What if someone or something passes in front of the singer?

If all you have at the moment is the thought, "Hey! I've got a great idea!" I strongly suggest that you think long and hard about the potential pitfalls you could encounter. If you then wish to continue, you'll need to know how to handle these pitfalls BEFORE you encounter them... or all your hard work to that point will be for nothing.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Rachel Adams
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 14, 2009 at 5:56:54 pm

Thanks, that's really helpful.

The mouth can get covered its going to disappear when it does, that shouldn't be too much on a problem from the footage. At the moment you see i've been doing it frame by frame with the quick selection tool in photoshop to make the animation however the problem with that system is it looks very a-ha video, rather than smooth flash animation.

Thanks again, Rachel


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 14, 2009 at 6:35:24 pm

[Rachel Adams] "...the problem with that system is it looks very a-ha video, rather than smooth flash animation. "

And you think After Effects is going to fix that?
You see, in my experience, video is a LOT smoother than a flash animation. The reason: interlaced video. The viewer perceives motion more times per second, so the motion looks smoother. Perhaps you ought to explain what you mean by, "a-ha video".

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Rachel Adams
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 15, 2009 at 10:59:58 am

The 'a-ha' effect (from the music video from the 1980s where comic book characters come to life) may actual be called jitter(?) when the animation shakes in that hand drawn way, I want to eliminate that making it look much more like a smooth shifting shape.

I am thinking that if i put a smoothing effect on photoshop this might do the trick. However the other problem i'm having is the quality, i don't know what size screen its going to be viewed on (which is why i was keen on flash or after effects to make vector shapes rather than raster) so I could keep the quality up.

Hope that explains my thinking a bit.
Rachel


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 15, 2009 at 4:56:09 pm

[Rachel Adams] "i was keen on flash or after effects to make vector shapes rather than raster) so I could keep the quality up. "

Sorry, but that won't be possible, I'm afraid. If you want to maintain vector shapes, you have to START with vector shapes. All video is bitmapped, and there is no way to turn it into vector. Even the video in flash files is bitmapped.

So it's time to describe the nature of this video you're working with. Where did it come from? How was it recorded? What's its horizontal and vertical resolution? What kind of codec was the video encoded to?

And you also need to know up front what you're supposed to deliver. Screen size can be irrelevant. For example, you can play a DVD on a 23-inch Sony, and you can play a DVD through a video projector onto the side of a house. In either case, the image is 720x480 pixels in NTSC-Land.

Oh: to identify a codec or H&V resolution, import the video into AE. Highlight the footage in the project window. Read what it says at the top of the window about the footage.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Micah McDowell
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 18, 2009 at 1:46:46 pm

Sounds like motion blur in After Effects may help make your animation more smooth and less jittery like the old "Take on Me" video (a classic, by the way).

In Photoshop, you're doing the same basic thing they did in that video with each frame hand-drawn, giving no interpolation or motion blur... kind of like a really fast shutter speed on a camera. Adding motion blur in Photoshop would not do the same thing. Using masks in After Effects will make it more natural and easy to tweak as well. Also, ditto on everything Dave said.


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Rachel Adams
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 25, 2009 at 1:35:31 pm

Thanks for all the advice all of these things are really useful. The video is a David Bowie video which i have turned into a series of stills. Its like a simplified portrait you see for an art video.

Am i right in thinking the basic thought then is to either use flash frame by frame or to take my existing photoshop footage and use it with masks in after effects? Is that correct? So do i use a motion blur mask in after affects.

I will try out all of these things!

I also love that A-ha video but for this instance the jittery affect would be too hand drawn, it needs to be more mechanical and smooth to work with the rest of my animation (i think).


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Mark Suszko
Re: Floating mouth effect?
on Oct 29, 2009 at 8:07:04 pm

Your footage probably doesn't support this, but I though maybe a trick to try would be to use the color picker tool on just the lip color to make the lips the source of a moving matte... essentially chromakeying using red lip color instead of blue or green. Use a tight multipoint garbage mask around the mouth to help filter out similar color. That key could then drive lips of any color you want when appied to cut a key with another solid in the comp... but I'm not an AE guy (yet), just musing out loud...

What you're trying to do sounds lots like the old "synchro-vox" technique from the Clutch Cargo and Space Angel cartoons of my youth in the early 60's.



They used to parody this effect on Conan O'Brien. But the synchro vox as I understand it was based on luminance keying of people wearing high-contrast makup around the mouth and lips. It was a technique developed to speed the proces of making saturday morning animated cartoons on a tight schedule without needing to hand-draw and ink a lot of key frames for the dialogue scenes.


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