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Recommended workflow for detailed/painterly HD rotoscope with Paint Effect

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Henry Hughes
Recommended workflow for detailed/painterly HD rotoscope with Paint Effect
on Mar 27, 2010 at 7:39:54 am

I'm technically capable, but more savvy with a Wacom tablet than with optimizing my AE workflow.

I've done several projects in AE primarily utilizing the paint tool (starting with a video clip 30 seconds to 1 minute long) to produce detailed/cartoony rotoscope animation. I usually start with a single standard-defintion or even very low-res clip, from a camera phone or the web, that I import into a 720p or 1080p project set to 10,12,15 or 24fps (lower framerate looks good & fewer frames-per-second makes it easier to keyframe while drawing).

A finished project might contain several layers of the same clip, each with an instance of the paint effect (set to "paint on transparent" for previewing and rendering) and maybe 100 animated brushes in total.

Once my project is setup, the paint tool is effective and responsive even with numerous instances/layers/brushes. However, it usually takes me some trial error to setup my project, depending on the source/format/framerate of the source footage. Early on I imported a 320x240 clip into an HD project. I scaled it up to the project size while maintaining the aspect ratio, then applied the paint effect and spent several hours animating, only to realize that my lines were pixelated because the paint effect was still effectively treating the layer as though it was 320x240, even though it had been scaled to 1280x960 or so before applying paint. Since then, I've converted my source footage to composition size before animating...but I haven't figured out the ideal format...and inevitably, the converted, larger clip slows down my project considerably.

:) So, my workflow approach is pretty simple, but the projects are labor intensive. I'd basically just like a sensible workflow recommendation tI can think of like a template (importing low-res clips into a composition, painting and rendering at 720p or 1080p) knowing that I'm full optimizing my computing resources. Then I can fully focus my attention on animating for the month it takes to do 30-60 seconds.

Thoughts: Is there a way to simply scale up a low-res clip into an HD project as mentioned, animate it, then render the paint effect at the resolution of the HD project unpixelated? If that won't work, what would be the ideal format/codec/approach for converting my source clip prior to animation, with prime concern being speed and responsiveness of the project over file sizes? IE Would a CPU benefit from Uncompressed AVI's help me, or the large file sizes worsen my issue?

I accept hardware upgrades as a solution where needed (I could put in a little money where it would make the biggest difference. I have reliable but somewhat older hardware) but my question is more about optimizing my workflow as-is. I've managed to do what I'm trying to accomplish with what I have, but I'd like to avoid some frustration, and the trial & error. Thank you very kindly in advance!! I've lurked, but never resolved my question.


Running AE CS4 9.0.2 on:

Iwill DK8EW Dual Opteron 252 2.6GHz - 4GB ECC Ram
Windows XP32 & Windows 7 X64 Dual boot
Nvidia 7800 GTX
320GB sata system drive
2x 500GB sata drive
1x 1000GB sata


MSI lga775 mainboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz - 6GB DDR2 Ram
Windows XP64
ATI FireGl V5100 (sometimes swap ATI Radeon x1900xt)
500GB sata system drive
2x 500GB sata
300GB EIDE Raid-0

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Kevin Camp
Re: Recommended workflow for detailed/painterly HD rotoscope with Paint Effect
on Mar 27, 2010 at 5:21:29 pm

this might work...

create a comp that is the size of your final, it will need to have the same aspect ratio as the small frame footage (1280x960, by you example). and create a new comp-sized solid.

find that solid in the project window (should be in a folder named solids). right-click on it and choose 'set proxy>file' and select the small frame footage file.

this should allow you to use the original small footage file to paint on, without needing to uprez, render and import it, and hopefully without the performance penalty of working with large frame footage...

however, i'm not sure if the larger footage is causing the slow down, or if just painting on a larger frame is causing the slow down.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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Henry Hughes
Re: Recommended workflow for detailed/painterly HD rotoscope with Paint Effect
on Jun 22, 2010 at 7:00:19 pm

Thanks a lot Kevin. I'm just getting around to setting up a new project with a few new pieces of footage now. So far so good. Definitely already an improvement in terms of the responsiveness of the project and simply the notion of being able to somewhat disregard converting the footage before starting to animate (which I assumed there was a reasonable way to do). I'll see what I come up with in terms of working this way and get back if I have additional questions, or discover any new insight to contribute for other people using AE to rotoscope again.

Thanks again.

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