Advanced effects such as face replacement can be intimidating. It sounds like something that is only available to big-budget productions with millions of dollars to spend on post. Fortunately, it can be easily accomplished at home using just After Effects, a still image, and AE Face Tools.
Put together by videolancer, this video tutorial walks you through all the steps necessary for doing this yourself. It does emphasize the free Motion Bro extension and paid AE Face Tools preset pack, but if this is something you need for a current or upcoming project, the tools seem well worth it considering how easy this tutorial makes it look.
Get ready, this is a lengthy tutorial, though it seems to be very straightforward. Your first step is to use the ellipse tool to select the face in your video. Set the mask mode to none and then right click the mask and track it. Moving on to the tracking panel you should select Face Tracking with Detailed Features. This should track all the core aspects of the face.
Next, you will want to pull up the image you are going to replace the face in your video with and get the poses to match up as best as you can. At this point, you can set the rest pose and then extract and copy measurements. Now you are ready to get started on the real work.
Heading over to the Motion Bro panel there is a conveniently named Face Replacement option. Open up the replacement comp and open up the Holder in the composition. Load in the image you want to use to replace the face in your video and then line it up with the provided template. Going back to the replacement comp, you will want to add another ellipse mask for the holder layer, showing you the still image over the video.
Do a couple of frames of tracking and you should see some markers for positioning all the rigging points for more accurate tracking. There is a manual method in case the automatic tracking doesn’t take. Once complete, remove the reference points layer and face points track effect.
Select the holder layer and click rig on the motion panel. Success! All your points should be linked between the two faces and you can see how the effect is beginning to work, though a bit of fine-tuning is required.
One of the first things is you still have a bit of extra image around your face. That’s easily addressed by changing the Alpha Matte mode to the “Face Mask” layer. Now you can tweak the size and position of the face over your video. Then you will want to use color correction tools to match the color of the image to match the original footage.
If your subject is quite still, you may be satisfied here. If they are talking or have animated motions, then the eyes, nose, and mouth will need some help. The method showed here has you sub in the details from the original video for a natural look.
Going into the holder composition, opening up the Slit Mask folder and you will find masks and outlines for the face, eyes, and mouth. Going in and changing the mode to “Difference” will show you what the goal is here. Adjust the masks to match up with the areas on the face you intend to replace.
Now, you will have to transform the original face to line up with the new masks for the eyes, nose, and mask. On the Motion Bro panel there is a transform category which you should apply to your footage. This preset gives you easy tools for moving around the various parts of the face to match up. The final touches are things like eye color changing to complete the replacement.
All in all, this makes a seemingly complicated VFX effect look very easy. Maybe your next short can star a famous actor like Leonardo DiCaprio, just like they did in the tutorial. What did you think of the tool?