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Post Processing in Studio Artist
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Incidentally, if you'd like to take the easy way out and download the actual (tiny, 18 KB) actions that created these movies, just click here. You can load these up one at a time in Studio Artist by opening your Paint Action window, erasing the current sequence and then choosing Action > Import Paint Action Sequence.

The rotoscoping process
The first step in rotoscoping in Studio Artist is to open up your source footage and start playing around with some settings. So launch Studio Artist, and, when the program asks you for a source image, choose your QuickTime movie. Set the canvas to whatever you want your output size to be in the end. If you plan to output in multiple formats, set your canvas size to the largest output size you plan to use.

Now, up in the upper left-hand corner of your interface, you'll see a little window showing you the first frame of your QuickTime. The first frame might not be the ideal frame to work with. Choose a frame that's typical of your footage in terms of the scale of the subject, or work on the last frame, since that's where you're movie will stop and freeze, unless you're going to set it to loop for presentation on the Web.

The source window

Once you find a frame you're comfortable working with, it's time to start experimenting with the Paint Synthesizer to find the look you want. For both of mine, I worked mostly with presets that I modified to work better on my image.

As soon as you're done experimenting and are pretty sure how you want this to look, open up your Paint Action window (Action > Paint Action Window) and erase whatever's there.

Click on the check box labeled "Record," and start applying your settings. Studio Artist will record everything you do that affects your canvas. So, if you want to do something that you don't want recorded, make sure you temporarily deselect that Record check box. If you undo an action, it will automatically be removed from the Paint Action command list.

IMPORTANT: These painting steps all involve Studio Artist's automated painting actions. To use the automated painting, just click "Action" in the preset palette. When Studio Artist records your actions, it also records the amount of time spent applying the action, and will use the exact same amount of time for all future frames. This means that the longer each action takes to apply, the longer your final render time will be.

I did the first example (the lighter one with the red dress) in nine steps. Here are the settings I used to achieve my effects.

1. I first applied a background based on the source image's threshold. To do this, just go up to the background pull-down menu right above your canvas and select "Image B/W Threshold."

The benefit of applying a threshold to the background is that, no matter how abstract your composition gets, there's still a hint of the referential in there; there's still something recognizable as an object that's being animated.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications.