Secrets of Paint and Roto

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Original Run Date:
January 2009 
6 hours 26 minutes 
"We'll fix it in post." No doubt you've heard the phrase before. And while it may get thrown around more than it should, the challenge of 'the fix' often falls to the paint and roto artist. From removing pesky crew members or production rigging in frame, to altering background environments or clothing on actors, we're going to focus on the approaches and techniques of this invisible art using standard tools like After Effects, Photoshop along with supporting apps like Mocha AE and software from The Pixel Farm.

Professor Wes Ball will be examining real-world production shots from recent TV shows as well as newly acquired RED footage. As we walk through the completion of full shots, you will gain a solid grasp on the fundamental concepts of paint and roto and hopefully learn a few hard-won tips and tricks along the way. Ball will be using After Effects as his finishing tool of choice, but the techniques he'll be showing are applicable across many different applications.

Ball's freelance operation, OddBall Digital, works in a variety of areas in film and TV, one facet being paint and roto for prime-time television.
Secrets of Paint and Roto
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1

We'll get an overview of the kinds of paint shots that often come up in a production situation. Many of the shots we look at in this lesson we will come back to in detail later in the course. We'll start looking into approaches and how to think about removing unwanted elements in the frame.

Class 2

Stairs. Another crew member gets in the way. We'll go about removing him by replacing the entire half of the frame. We'll look at creating the patch in photoshop as well as simple tracking in after effects with hand tweaks using null parents. Also, we'll look into a method I call 'reverse tracking'.

Class 3

Baloons. This time we're going to look at using track mattes in After Effects to single out objects in the frame we can use to block or hide unwanted elements in the shot. We'll also get an intro in Mocha AE for tracking and using its data inside of After Effects.

Class 4

Helicopter. Using RED footage shot by fxphd, we'll look at a simple method for removing rigging cables supporting a model helicopter until its explosive demise. Specifically we'll show how simple roto shapes, still frames, and color keys can get the job done.

Class 5

Mic Wire. Sometimes you can get away with using blurs and different blending filters inside of after effects to remove unwanted elements. In this case, a mic wire is taped across a guy's bare chest and we'll wipe it away with a few filters. We'll also use this opportunity to go into a little detail on how I like to approach the specific task of roto.

Class 6

Go Kart Part 1 of 2. We'll start upping the ante with a fairly difficult shot of another crew member walking straight through the middle of the scene. We'll look into some serious tracking with a zoom and handheld camera using pfTrack.

Class 7

Go Kart Part 2 of 2. We'll finish out the shot by exporting the track into a 3D app to generate a full background using the patch we created in the previous lesson. We'll also look into the roto involved in completing the shot.

Class 8

Shoreline A & B.We'll take a look at a collection of shots that are "the same but different". Each shot needs us to remove objects off in the distance, but we'll take different approaches with each one to illustrate some of the choices you can make when tackling shots.

Class 9

Shoreline C. In this lesson, we'll take a fast-moving handheld shot out on the ocean and clean the distant shoreline of any distracting buildings, ships, or evidence of civilization. We'll look at stitching several stills from different times in the frame into one giant patch. We'll track it into the shot, and then briefly look at the roto involved with finishing the shot.

Class 10

Grass canons. In the last shot of the course, we'll remove an entire crew on a grassy hillside. We'll look into 3D tracking and ways to rebuild elements of the grassy hillside in 3D and merge them back into the shot.