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Video Training Review: Video2Brain: Fundamentals of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects By Jeff Foster

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Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects is a video workshop presented by Jeff Foster – award winning video producer, compositor, visual effects artist, and author of The Green Screen Handbook in which he guides you through the basics of green screen compositing and setting up a streamlined roto workflow with After Effects and a Wacom tablet.

The goal of this training is to provide you with real-world techniques for getting the best mattes and keys from your green screen shots, how to stabilize your tracking footage, how to use the Roto Brush feature to create quick and accurate mattes of anything that moves in the frame, and to provide you with the tools and techniques to create much more believable composites.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects is presented in high definition video and breaks out into six chapters and 17 videos that runs 1 hr and 25 minutes in length. Included as well is all of the footage and assets that are used in the training for you to work with on your own.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects

Chapter 1, “Setting Up a Wacom Tablet for Editing,” begins by showing you how to set up a Wacom Intuos 4 Tablet and a Wacom Citiq display (two separate videos) for effectively working in After Effects. The real goal here is to minimize the use of the keyboard when you are working on your projects and streamline your workflow.

Chapter 2, “Getting a Great Matte from Green Screen Shots,” now looks at some best practices in software keying. This lesson begins with a properly lit green screen and properly lit subjects. It then goes on to show you how to perform masking and how to work with the foreground and background videos to make them blend for the best look.

Next you move on to how to color balance your foreground and backgrounds properly by toning so that all of the footage looks like everything was shot with one camera. You will also see how to add some blur to simulate a rack focus or pull focus blur in your shots. Finally you will see how you can work with poorly lit green screen footage.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects

Chapter 3, “Roto-Masking in After Effects,” begins with an explanation of what roto is – any process that requires frame-by-frame work or when you have to track something that needs to be changed over time. This can be masking, painting, cloning, as well as other things. In this lesson, you will learn about one of the most common uses of roto – masking something or someone in the footage.

Then you will see how “Tweening” – After Effects is able to make adjustments between keyframes, can make for a smoother masking effect. He will show you how to mask the tire of a car driving on a road. You will mask at separate keyframes and then use the tweening to fill in the gaps. You will also see how to plan out your masking needs before you start the masking to make sure the process progresses smoothly.

Chapter 4, “Stabilizing and Tracking Footage,” then looks at one of the newest features in Adobe After Effects – the Warp Stabilizer. This feature gives you the ability to take hand-held footage and use it to stabilize the shot and remove unwanted motion without adding unwanted artifacts. You will learn how to set everything up with the optimal settings to get the best results.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects

From there, you will learn about the built-in tracker in After Effects and how you can use it to replace the destination stop (sign on the front) of a moving train with a logo and have it track properly through the scene. Finally you will take a look at match-moving – making something move in sequence with other objects and making it believable. This takes a lot of patience and time and in this section you will see how to take a 3D image and make it track along with a train.

Chapter 5, “The Roto Brush: Compositing with Masks,” starts off with brief description of what the Roto Brush is and what it can be used for. You will also see why the use of the Wacom tablet is so useful when working with the Roto Brush.

When working with the Roto Brush on longer clips, you will see how you should set up spans. The Roto Brush can effect everything within a span and so, by working in smaller segments, it can save you time when going back to make adjustments. Once you have it all setup, you will see how to freeze your Roto Brush Layer which locks in the Roto Brush data so that nothing will happen as you continue work. There are several other tips and tricks that you will learn in this set of lessons in relation to the Roto Brush.

Chapter 6, “Matte Layer Tips and Tricks,” starts off by describing the two types of mattes that you will be using which are the alpha – visible or invisible, and luminesce – which consists of lighter pixels or darker pixels and then you will see what you can do using each of these types of mattes.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects

Finally you will see how to use your Wacom tablet to cleanup your edges on a frame-by-fame method using both the alpha and luma mattes. Here you will see how to set things up so you work on the masking layer while still seeing the live frame.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects really provides a lot of very targeted, practical, and most importantly, useful techniques for using After Effects to process green screen and roto. The instructor is very clear in his explanations and constantly offers sound reasons for using his techniques.
The quality of the interface and video is very good, extremely clear, and it is all laid out in an easy to use format. You can either download the video (the version that I reviewed) or watch it online. You get all of the files that were used so that you can follow along with the videos at your own pace. Keep in mind that since for both the video and assets the file size is almost 1.5 GB, you will probably want a good internet connection for the download.

Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects is available from video2brain for $34.99. It can be viewed online, from a download, and it is HTML5 player-ready which means it can also be viewed online with your iPad and iPhone 4. If you want to learn the basics of getting a good green screen composite and building a streamlined roto workflow, then I can very highly recommend Fundamentals Of Compositing Tracking And Roto Techniques With After Effects

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.