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3. Rotoscope special effects animation with EBSynth and Photoshop Tutorial (How To)

Now let's talk about special effects, and we're going to be looking at EBSynth again Not for colorization, but for special effects rotoscoping

First, another little story In 2007 and 2008 I wrote, directed, edited and did special animation effects for a lowbudget liveaction feature film called Shamelessly SheHulk This was, of course, an origin story for the Marvel comics superheroine, Jennifer Walters The Sensational SheHulk, who is one of my favorites Marvel is now making a TV series with this character, but this was before Marvel movies were really even a thing They were still shooting Iron Man when we were shooting our little fanfilm for no money, and that's part of the joke of the film, that she's worried about adapting her story into a low budget movie, because a lot of Marvel movies had failed

Kierstyn Elrod and Lesley Youngblood played SheHulk and Jennifer, and were amazing We had a great cast We didn't have a lot of money The producer's mother had a lot of money, but I didn't really want to spend a lot of his money I thought that would be cruel, and it was a fanfilm

So I wanted to make this movie without spending a lot It cost about ten thousand dollars, and half of that was the camera Which wasn't even HD, it was a Panasonic MiniDV camera High quality then but very dated now And I also wanted to shoot an hd film at the same time, which wouldn't have been a fanfilm, it was something that I owned, and which we could take a film festivals, and we never shot it! I wrote it and the producer didn't understand it

So Shamelessly She Hulk was what we got And this was a really ambitious project It was too ambitious really We shot 55 hours of footage I actually had an idea that we'd shoot a sequel as well

I had an idea for like a bigbudget sequel, and we even shot some of it This is a twohour movie, that we shot for no money, and the insane part is that almost every frame of the movie had to be an animated special effect She Hulk is a green superheroine And we weren't going to paint our actress green every day for a month That would be impossible, and it would also look bad, even Hollywood, it doesn't look good when they paint a woman green

And I wanted her skin to look natural So the green color is added in post production So if she's on location with other actors, I have to go in frame by frame, and draw around her, draw her out Make a mask around her on every frame to isolate her so that I can turn her green Frame by frame animation, which is insane

This is why the movie never came out in full, because it's this cheap little fanfilm that requires an insane amount of work on every shot Frame by frame by frame I worked on editing this movie for years, there are a lot of scenes I never even edited because I was so focused on getting the effects done I look back on my work on this movie ten, twelve, thirteen years ago, and I don't know how I did all that work I was younger then, I had the energy, I don't now

Most of the time, we were only shooting one actor at a time, so it's hard to cut the movie together in a way that looks natural We shot a lot of greenscreen And it's not a good idea to shoot greenscreen on MiniDV If you've got a good HD camera, shooting greenscreen is fine But the old MiniDV cameras, MiniDV's color compression is actually really low quality and nasty

The color is half the resolution that the video is, and the video is already very low SD quality And when the color is very saturated, it gets blocky and pixelated So I had to blur the footage and use seven or eight different layers and all kinds of fancy tricks to get the greenscreen to look at all acceptable, it was a very complicated effects process, just because we'd shot the film on a low quality format Today the technology is better I can fix these shots and get much better results now

I wish I'd had this technology back then, and I wish I'd had an HD camera then But whatever So if I have a greenscreen video, that's shot on MiniDV, the greenscreen is going to look really blocky and bad, but if I render it out in AfterEffects, the program will smooth out that color Automatically I can render it out using a semilossless codec like Lagarith or Apple ProRes or Cineform

I used to work on Mac and I really like the ProRes codec but there is definitely a mismatch with Premiere and AfterEffects, especially on PC but also on Mac, they read the Apple Quicktime codecs as darker than they are, and you can ruin your footage really easily and lose all your detail so I'm gonna use probably Lagarith, and not ProRes I could use Lossless, but it takes up a lot of drive space I could also use Cineform, which used to be GoPro Cineform I think it's changing my color? I'm still experimenting Codecs are a thing

Codecs are a pain in the butt, what format is your video in, is a whole thing But I think it's really helpful when you're doing greenscreen, and bluescreen and whatever, chromakey, to think of that as being a black and white image of its own, like you can composite your chromakey layer as just an image that's a black and white matte, and maybe is a little softer, maybe is a little bit looser and more blended and then once you have that video you can raise the contrast later So i would render out a very soft chromakey out of my miniDV to just soften out all the blockiness, all the pixelation, anywhere it didn't look good, I'd put in a lot of work I would handle different parts of the image differently, I really focused on getting her hair looking right I would noise reduce just the Chromakey layer But I was creating this black and white matte image of video and just making it look right, and it was softer than what I actually wanted to use I would soften it down and then raise the contrast up in post so I had something which was really smooth because I'd softened it, and also really sharp because i'd raise the contrast and sharpened it up a lot, this is very inside baseball and boring, but it is helpful to think of chromakey as its own black and white image

When I was dealing with really low quality chromakey that we'd shot, you can get a pretty good result if you actually look at what you're doing When it's a really black and white matte image, you kind of see what you're doing, you see what doesn't look right, and what is kind of fizzing, what's pixelated, what's fizzing around the edges and what doesn't work I have a greenscreen video, shot on MiniDV, that would normally look really blocky and bad I have installed Neatvideo Noise Reduction into Premiere and AfterEffects, and I'm going to select the noise that's visible in the video And build a noise reduction profile from that

I'm going to set noise reduction to zero luminance and zero chroma Because I just want to reduce the noise based on temporaral smoothing The movement of the video will show Neatvideo how to reduce the noise here I'm gonna set this to 1 or 2 frame of temporal smoothing, more if it's a really noisy video, and set that smoothing to about 167 percent And render

The result takes all the noise and grain out, and it also really smooths out the greenscreen So that looks great, much better than a grainy old MiniDV home video should That also allows you to think of removing the background behind characters who maybe weren't even done with chromakey properly or where you're removing other stuff that was in the chromakey that you don't want, or putting stuff back in And I've been using the website RemoveBG to remove the background behind characters who I didn't even shoot on greenscreen and then generate more frames of that with EBSynth

So there's a lot you can do when you're creating your chromakey as its own black and white mask And today we're going to be doing that, we're going to open up EbSynth again And first we're going to be opening up Photoshop So we're going to turn SheHulk green, in scenes which weren't greenscreen, where she was on location with other actors And that means we have to draw a mask around her on every frame

And yes, this is a lot of work And yes, I really did have to draw every frame of these sequences back in the day Especially if there was really fast motion like fighting, you'd have to draw every frame If it's slower motion, I could draw every two frames, or every four frames, or every six frames, and that's still a lot of frames I would then slow that down in After Effects, or before I had AfterEffects I used Twixtor

After Effects can slow down footage with Pixel Motion and generate new frames inbetween the old frames The old AfterEffects CS6 does an okay job of this, but not a great job, so if there was fast action or fighting I really did have to draw in every goddamn frame, and that's why this movie never came out in full I do think that the new After Effects Creative Cloud probably does the pixel motion better, but I am an old broke millennial, so I'm gonna keep using the old software as long as I possibly can because I'm not gonna pay for a monthly subscription Sorry Adobe But a lot of my projects were like that, just kind of crazy ambitious

It was a very ambitious project, it was a crazy amount of work, too much work eventually, and there was no money to do it, and I worked on it for years and years and it never came out And it probably should have been popular, but that's not a good way to become popular on the internet There were too many projects that became secret or not well known because they just kind of fizzled out and never came out properly If you know my work, I'm pretty famous for restoring an animated film by Richard Williams called The Thief and the Cobbler That was supposed to be his masterpiece

He spent 25 years animating one film, he was a master animator, a lot of people called him the greatest animator alive, and he died this past year, and he worked 25 years on this movie that he wanted to be his masterpiece, and he never finished it, so I spent 8 years restoring it Now I wasn't working on it full time for eight years, but two or three years of that, I was working on it full time, painting out dirt and cleaning up frames, frame by frame by frame For years I Livestreamed some of it And oh, I also restored hundreds of Muppet specials, I did a lot of Muppet fan DVDs, and some of that was frame by frame, painting out glitches and cleaning up VHS sources

And people just take it for granted now that they can watch these things now, on Youtube or whatever Nobody has any idea that somebody restored this material But I usually spent weeks on everything Anyway, when EbSynth came out, I thought, you know, this is a time saver All the frame by frame effects that I had to do on SheHulk, and all the stuff I never finished, and all the new stuff I'm doing now, because I'm still making films and restoring films, EBSynth can help

In theory I don't have to draw every frame anymore I can just draw some of the frames, and let EbSynth follow the motion and render out the rest RemoveBG, the background removal website, was really helpful for this sort of thing as well Again, it uses AI to paint out the background behind a person or object

It usually gets it right and is really useful I can use the website, or use the API or the application You sign up with your email and get fifty free frames per month at standard definition, these are 500×500 pixel images, or thereabout, and I've removed the background behind this character, or behind this character, so that they can be in a different scene And that's very nice And you can use EbSynth to help generate the rest of the frames

And it sounds like I'm doing a promotion for some of these, but I'm not, these are free programs, at least at the level I'm using them at, and I found them really useful So let's see how EBSynth handles rotoscoping First off I have to actually do some rotoscoping And I've been doing rotoscoping on this film for thirteen years so I think that'll be a natural for me Ho boy

Yeah, my projects like this film sort of became traps eventually But these are black and white animated masks, drawn around the character, frame by frame Normally if she's moving fast, like in a fight scene, I do have to draw every single frame If she's not moving as much it might be every fourth frame, and then I'll slow it down in After Effects pixel motion Still a lot of frames

This time around we're going to be drawing every tenth frame or so, I think, which is much quicker We might draw every tenth or twentieth frame if it's slow, and every fourth frame if it's fast And that's a big time savings, so thank you Secret Weapons, and thank you EBSynth So first off we've exported every shot that we're rotoscoping as an image sequence, in its own directory And we'll copy and paste a copy of that directory also, because we want to keep a clean copy of this scene, and also a copy where we've redrawn some of the frames as keyframe

This is tracing, frame by frame, it's a form of animation which we call rotoscope It's a very simple process, it is a lot of work though I click the Record and Playback buttons here in Photoshop I create Automated actions for what I need to do to prepare a frame for rotoscoping, and then to prepare and save a frame after rotoscoping So any action that I'm just doing over and over again, I'll automate that so it's just one click

So all I have to do is draw around the outline of the character and then click select I don't have to make my layers and set their blending mode, I don't have to fill it in, that all gets done for me I can finish a frame in a minute or two So I just keep going and finish, finish, finish I open up a few frames at a time here

You can do that in Mac OSX but I've also edited my Windows 10 so that there's a rightclick option to send to, to send multiple files to Photoshop I've got a frame open here And my automated action creates a few different layers There's an adjustment layer to make it brighter so I can really see what's going on in the dark parts of the frame And there's an allwhite frame that I've filled in whose blending mode is set to multiply and set at a low opacity, and then I can just draw around the outline of the character, and see what I'm doing and I'm done

I then select the outline of the character And I have an automated action to fill in all the black parts of the frame, and save the image Or anything else I need It's pretty quick, the idea is to do as many frames as possible quickly So anything you find yourself doing over and over again, like creating layers, setting the opacity and blending mode, swapping your color swatches, filling in black areas, flattening and saving the image, and so on, there's a lot that you can put into automated actions again so they're one click and all you're doing is the drawing part

Now I do have a graphics tablet, I wouldn't want to be drawing this with a mouse It can be done with a mouse, I do use both, but it's not great to draw with a mouse I have a tablet pen here and I've mapped the little clicky buttons on the pen to swap out my color swatches which is really helpful, I can swap between black and white with one click of the pen And my monitor is an older and very outdated Wacom Cintiq, so I'm drawing directly onto the monitor And again this is an obsolete model that I got for cheap on Ebay, cos I'm a broke millennial

And so after a day of work, all the keyframes that we've bothered to draw are done These are black and white images And we're going to now render the rest of the frames in EBSynth We have three directories now There's the original image sequence, direct from the actual film

Then there's the keyframe directory, where I've painted some of the frames And there's an output directory I'm gonna start our EBSynth project I'll specify my directories and filenames by dragging and dropping the filenames which already exist 23 times will fill the screen with that

I'll save a copy of this EBSynth project and copy that several times, because we've got a lot of keyframes and we're going to need several projects to hold them all And then in each EBSynth project I'm going to type in a lot of numbers I'm going to type in what all of my keyframes are, and you see the arrows going backward and forward to what frame they need to stop on So I can specify a frame number going backward and/or forward, which I would like EBSynth to render to using that keyframe Sometimes that's stopping at end of the shot, or to the end of the scene, but most of the time it should be a number that's about halfway between this keyframe and the next keyframe

So I've got Windows Explorer or Mac Finder open and I'm just looking at my image sequences, and looking at the frame numbers, and I just type in the numbers that I want And I click the purple button that says Synth And it starts to render Now I've gotten a little ahead of myself because there is a problem here EBSynth is a style transfer program, and a simple black and white mask does not have a lot of style to it

It's just a flat black area and a flat white area Because it's a compositing mask, a selection, a tracking matte, a traveling matte, whatever you want to call it Right? Right In my experience, a flat colored image like this breaks EBSynth EBSynth will render it but missing parts, especially around the edges of the frame, the image will just kind of melt like a candle when it's just black and white

It's not gonna give us the really accurate animated mask that we want It should but it doesn't At least at default settings, so Let's click the Advanced tab in EBSynth Now there's currently no documentation about the features of EBSynth so there may something I'm missing here, but the Mapping is set to 10

0 If you set this to 50, or 100, you'll get much better results with this kind of flat color and black and white mask I found the results to be almost useable We want the Keyframes to carry more weight We want the result to look exactly like the keyframe

But we can do better than that A black and white mask has no texture and it seems like EBSynth wants even its output to have some kind of filmic texture that it can hang onto I don't know All I know is what I've noticed works and what doesn't So let's give EBSynth some texture to hang onto

We need to include some trace of the original image, as well as the black and white mask In Photoshop, let's open up one of our frames, and also its matching keyframe So, okay, an RGB image is actually made up of three different black and white images The software composites them together into one Technicolor picture Just like technicolor film did back in the day

So we have a Red, Green and a Blue channel What if we keep two of these channels, and replace one of them with our black and white matte? There we go The black and white matte is still there in the blue channel, but the rest of the image should be more to EBSynth's liking It's blue A da ba di, da ba die

Now if I'd known I could have done this with an automatic Photoshop action and actually saved all my keyframes to look like this Since I didn't, I'm going to go into After Effects and rerender the image sequence now, because that's probably the easiest way to do this So I'm gonna put an image sequence of my keyframe mattes on one layer as video and put my original video on another layer I'm gonna add a video effect of Set Channels to both layers, which will allow me to work with the red, green and blue channels separately And you can get lots of weird effects from doing this, you can work with the red green and blue channels of video separately and add like glitching and distortion and weirdness

But for this, on the video I'm gonna set the Blue channel to none, and on the mattes I'm gonna set the Red and Green channels to none And then I'm gonna set the blending mode to add so it adds the two together One is missing red and gree and one is missing blue And there you go So that should do it

There we go So okay, I've now got all these blue keyframes, which I'm gonna call Blookeys It's an Undertale reference And that should work a lot better I'm gonna render all my keyframes in EBSynth one more time, using my original projects which I saved

So the final result is much better, without any of that weirdness It also of course looks very blue and yellow, but again I can set the channels so that the Blue channel is used for all three channels, and suddenly we've got a clean black and white matte again, with no trace of the original image Which I didn't expect, I thought there'd be some noise But EBSynth did a really good job of keeping the different channels clean and keeping the image clean so that's great And here's the result

It's not perfect, there's still some melting around the edges, and I see a few places where I still have to draw and render a few more keyframes because there was a lot of motion, but basically, this saved me a whole lot of work, and did a much better job than I did by hand The worst things about this animation is actually the parts where you can I see I drew it by hand and it looks inconsistent, so EBSynth made this a lot better than it would have been It's a really complicated mask And I was able to do that on a limited number of frames but if I was doing this on every frame you would have definitely seen a lot of boiling and a lot of difference from one frame to the next We call that boiling it would have looked like a mess

Like there's red blood on her back in this shot, that EBSynth had to track, and it has to look consistent from one frame to another There's also Morris' hand when he's holding Jennifer's head, you see his hand through her hair, with some transparency, and that has to be really consistent or it looks weird, so my drawn version of that wasn't consistent and I'm gonna do a little more work and fix that But yeah, overall a really good result And here's the final composite I've got a few different layers here, where one is the video and then there's the black and white tracking mattes above it which matte out part of the video

I've added a tracking matte effect to the video there And below that are two different copies of the video, where I've shifted the colors so that She Hulk will look green One I've just changed the hue saturation and lightness, I've shifted the hue until she's green, and another I actually kept the hue the same so she's got pink skin but I color corrected it a bit to be greener overall and I set that at 50% opacity And so that's a pretty good result I'm used to editing this in FInal Cut Pro 7, an old Mac program, and I'm used to the color correction in there, but for Premiere, this is pretty good

So thanks for joining me, I hope you found this informative If you are doing colorization and special effects work with EBSynth and these other tools, or if you just enjoyed the video, let me know in the comments, like and subscribe, you know the drill And you can also contribute to my Patreon, that's Patreon Garrett Gilchrist If you have any questions, comment below or visit my message board and forum at orangecoworg, or hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, whatever

And I hope you have a terrific year

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