ROTOSCOPING

01 SHOT SELECTION

I selected a shot of a woman running on the beach. It somehow reminded me of the Dior - J'adore commercial with Cherliz Theron. 

I know that it's gonna be a lot of work and it's not an easy shot because of all the flying fabric of her dress. I like difficult things and I know that I have to push my boundaries to achieve a good result, that's why I choose this shot. I also like the expression of the face. The shot was originally 14 seconds long, I decided to rotoscope the first 80 frames.

I never used Nuke or Silhouette before and I have to get to used to the node based system. Every time I work with Silhouette I feel more comfortable. I love to work at Escape Studios, especially in the evening. Sometimes the MA students are there and I can learn a lot from them, they already have experience with all the different situations and problems you come across while working on your shot. Besides, it's so motivating working with people, who are as crazy as you are 😉

02 ANALYSE

Analyzing the shot! Watch and rewatch the shot, analyze the motion of the object. Once you start your Roto, place your shape at the most extreme position of the movement. From there go back and forward to refine the shapes. Try to use as few keyframes as possible. This will help you to create consistency in your Roto.

03 TRACKING

Wherever you can track, track! This helps you to do the hard work, so you can avoid creating useless keyframes. The Mocha Tracker is amazing.

I used the mocha tracker to track the fabrics, unluckily it just worked for a few frames. Still, 10 frames tracked are better than nothing 🙂

04 SHAPES

Analyze your shapes. For my Shot, I did a research of the human body anatomy. I tried to think about every muscle that moves while the woman is running. Then I had to figure out how to break the object down in simple shapes that will work together with the movement. 

NOTE: During my late evenings at Escape some of the MA students were here and gave me really good advice on how to start your first Roto. START WITH A SIMPLE SHAPE. This makes your life so much easier and less depressing. The best thing you can do is to start with a shape, where you don't have to care too much about the edges. Doing it this way you get a feeling for your shapes.

05 TRANSFORM / SCALE / ROTATE

Before you start editing every point in every single frame, you should try transform / scale / rotate. Editing every single point will cause problems and make your shapes "wiggle".

06 EDGE CONSISTENCY

Try to keep your edge consistent. If you decide to position your spline 1px out from the edge at the beginning of the shot it should stay there until the end of the shot! The IMPORTANT THING is that you KEEP IT CONSISTENT! It's not a problem to slightly dilate or erode the matte in a second step, but it has to be consistent.

07 SHORTCUTS

Keyboard shortcuts will speed up your workflow, so learn all of them! 

08 CHECK AND RECHECK YOUR WORK

Check your work frame by frame. The best thing to avoid any issues, such as gaps, is to use the alpha or a solid overlay view. This helps to spot any issues and makes it easier than just with the splines.  

09 DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME

Before starting rotoscoping, be aware of what is really needed to be done: make sure you're rotoscoping the frames and areas which are needed. Don't waste your time on things you weren't supposed to work on!

10 THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

So after all this hard work, don't rush. Once finished, take a break and then check your work again really carefully. Rather than submitting something wrong, take your time and bring your work to perfection. This is gonna leave a much better impression (also if it takes more time), than when fixing everything 1000 times.

SILHOUETTE FX TO NUKE

01 ALPHA

Rendering out the alpha channel is really easy: just select your ROTO node, connect an OUTPUT node to it and select your file path. In the channels choose ALPHA. Once finished with the settings in the output node go to 

  • session
    • render session 
      • click on render (you can switch on or off the preview)

02 ON GREY

The easiest way to create the grey layer is, to use the alpha layer, which already was exported from Silhouette FX and combine it with a keymix in Nuke. Create a constant and set the color to 0.18 (which is considered the MIDDLE GREY)

03 SHAPES

To export shapes from Silhouette FX,

  • select your layer (the fastest way is to select your main layer which contains all the other layers)
    • go into node
      • enable color
        • set outline size (remember to set the same size for the other layers)

 

Connect the OUTPUT node to the RGB channel of your ROTO node so you can see your shapes. After that, disconnect all the input nodes from your ROTO node; this way you're able to export JUST YOUR SHAPES.

NOTE: If in any of the ROTO nodes, the motion blur is on, switch it off to render out the shapes

HAIR

01 ROTOSCOPING

I first was thinking about rotoing out also the hair. In order to get an idea of how to approach it, this video can be helpful: Hair Rotoscoping. To roto hair, use open splines. You even have the possibility to define the thickness of the hair strands by transforming the spline.

 

02 POWER MATTE

After rotoing out some hair strands, I decided to try out another method: POWER MATTE. I immediately fell in love with power matte. It can save you a lot of work and is really easy to use. Just draw 1 FOREGROUND SHAPE and 1 BACKGROUND SHAPE. Silhoutte than calculates and separates the foreground from the background. I decided to do it with this method, because I think in the industry they would like to see you getting things done accurate and detailed, but also fast. This is the reason why I chose this approach: it just saves you a lot of time.

WHAT THE HECK????!!!

Problems:

01 SHAPES

In the beginning, it's really hard to create the right shapes. You have to analyze the movement and in my case the body before creating shapes.

My problem is, that the woman is running and also if it is a continuous movement, her body changes directions. I'm not sure where to place the shapes and how to create a continuous movement.

Then there are the cloths.... what a nightmare! I didn't think that it's so much work, but yes it is. Between laughs and tears, I give you a really good advise: have chocolate with you!! Someone said I'm dangerous because I have always chocolate with me  😉

02 MOTION BLUR

Motion Blur is hard to understand in the beginning, because our eye an't see what's going on when something is moveing really fast

03 EDGES

In Photoshop I'm used to paying attention to edges and when I have to make a selection I always want to have a perfect edge. When rotoscopig you have to think different, because the edge should go a bit further out so that you can adjust it in a second step and pull some pixels outside. The GOAL IS NOT TO LOSE ANY PIXELS. "The mattes you create need to EFFECTIVELY & CONSISTENTLY cover your focus object" - "Rotoscoping Techniques and tools for the Aspiring artist" by Bejamin Bratt explained

04 IK INVERSED KINEMATICS

After carefully analysing the shot, I thought I can give it a try and use a new tecnique. Using the IK Technique was a first step to move the shapes roughly, although it didn't do the magic for me. 

MOTIVATION

I never thought that this Roto takes so long. I was enthusiastic and motivated at the beginning, but at a certain point, I just wanted to be finished. Sometimes it's hard to keep being motivated, so here's my Roto survival list:

01 TRAIN

No matter which workout you like, just do it. I personally like to train in the morning to start my day full of energy! It also helps, to not end up like a hunchback.

02 MUSIC

Good music and podcasts 

03 CHOCOLATE

Chocolate, chocolate, and even more chocolate. Whoever sits next to me is in danger, I share my sweets and I know very few people who can't resist 🙂

04 WORK ON SOMETHING ELSE

Working on something else. Working on something else is the best thing to do: after a while, you don't see your errors anymore, so moving on to something else and coming back to your work, makes it easier to spot issues. 

05 BREAKS

Take hot chocolate, coffee, and snack breaks. This is a good way to come back with a fresh mind, but also to get to know other people. I'm a communicative person and like to get to know others. 

06 MAKE MISTAKES

Think about your learning process. By making mistakes you learn a lot and personally, I think it's the best way to learn: you remember the mistakes you made and you learn from them. Now I would know how to place the shapes, how to make the shapes and how much I should extend the edges. 

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