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Studio Artist Workflow: Autorotoscoping

Applying paint to video sequences, start to finish By Dave Nagel
Synthetik Studio Artist is a painting application that also has the ability to to apply paint effects to video. But unlike some filters out there that purport to produce "painterly" effects over movies, Studio Artist does it a bit different: It actually paints video stroke by stroke, frame by frame. And it can do it all for you automatically using a feature called "autorotoscoping."

The concept behind autorotoscoping is this: Studio Artist analyzes various parameters of the images in a sequence, generates paths from the analysis and then strokes those paths using its powerful Paint Synthesizer, which is easily the most full-featured paint engine available today, offering more than 1,000 parameters for creating an endless variety of paint strokes and effects.

The trouble for most new users, though, is that Studio Artist doesn't have the same kind of workflow that you'd find in a program like Adobe After Effects, where you'd simply apply a filter, nudge some parameters and render. Instead, Studio Artist is designed as a more open and universal tool, allowing you to create sequences of paint actions that you can apply to any number of files and produce unique results each time.

Since rotoscoping continues to be a hot topic to these days, I thought I'd walk you through the basic workflow for creating your own Paint Action Sequences and applying them to footage. In this installment, we'll look at a simple example, start to finish. Following this, in Part 2, we'll look at the differences in the process when working with source footage that contains an alpha channel. And then we'll take a stroll through some other rotoscoping capabilities, including manual, frame by frame rotoscoping.

For today's tutorial, we're going to create a simple paint effect over a piece of video. Here's what the effect will look like on the footage.

The brushes used in this effect, along with a complete PAS, will be available for download at the end of this article.

Recording paint steps
To begin, whenever you want to use autorotoscoping in Studio Artist, you must begin with a Paint Action Sequence. This is, in short, a recording (something like "Actions" in Adobe Photoshop) of everything you do in the creation of your artwork. Paint Action Sequences can be saved and reused and called up as easily as any other preset. But for the sake of showing you how to do things from beginning to end, we'll take this opportunity to create our own Paint Action Sequence (PAS) and apply it to a QuickTime movie file.

The way to create a PAS from scratch Is to launch Studio Artist and load your source movie. Make the canvas size the same size as the final movie you want to output. Now open up the Paint Action Sequence window (Action > Paint Action Sequence Window). When you do, you'll see a PAS already loaded in the window. Click the Erase button to clear it out.

Now, at the top of the window, click the Record checkbox. Once you do this, anything you do will be recorded as a part of your action, from automated brush strokes to effects to region selections. Everything. So, if you need to do something at some point that you don't want recorded as a part of your action, uncheck the Record checkbox temporarily.

At this point, our canvas is blank. So my first step will be to apply a brush that will bring in some color and texture. This brush is called Paint1a in the collection you'll find at the end of this article. To apply it, select it from the list of presets, and hit the Action button.

When I'm satisfied with what I see, I'll hit the spacebar on my keyboard to stop the painting. Here's what it looks like as it's being applied.

For the second step, I'm going to use a different brush (Paint2a) to smear the paint around the canvas and give me more coverage.

And then I'll apply a third brush (Paint3a) that will more closely follow the subjects in my frame to bring a little definition into the image.

For my last brush, I'll use a sketch-style preset that will just be there to bring in a little edge and definition into the image. (This is Paint4a in the preset collection available at the end of this article.)

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Related Keywords:synthetik studio artisty, pas, paint action sequence, paseq, rotoscoping, autmatic rotoscoping, painterly, paint effects

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  • Studio Artist Workflow: Autorotoscoping by DMN Editorial at Jul. 21, 2005 4:39 pm gmt (Rec'd 3)

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