Green Screening, or chromakeying, even in a studio can sometimes present unforeseen complications. The wrong shirt color, glasses, or a bad, frizzy hair day can cost you hours in post for tweaking. On top of that, if the footage was recorded with a low-quality codec, you can forget about the final result ever looking pleasant to the eye.
If you’re trying to punch a subject out of an image without a green screen, good luck. You’ll need to create a mask and adjust, track, and waste your entire workday just to get something that is acceptable.
Recently, Adobe made rotoscoping a lot easier in After Effects with the Rotobrush, which uses machine learning to not only select the object you tell it to, but to track it throughout your footage. But it gets even easier than that with AI-driven software. Matthew Paquete has a tip for a service that can help you rotoscope anything with almost no effort at all.
Through artificial intelligence (or machine learning), our eventual computer overlords have learned how to remove the background from almost anything, and now you can access that skill too with a new service from RunwayML.
This is a great option for non-After Effects users or anyone who doesn’t want/need an Adobe Cloud subscription, and the process is really simple.
RunwayML runs off of a server, and all you need to get going is your footage, and a web browser. You can run this on pretty much anything.
Upload your footage to RunwayML and click on Greenscreen Beta.
Load in your footage, and you’re presented with only 2 options + Include and – Exclude.
Select include, and click on the subject you’d like to rotoscope and let the AI do the work.
If it doesn’t get everything on the first try, start clicking in the areas that it missed, and if it goes too far, select Exclude to remove the unwanted pixels.
Now just click the Preview button and watch the magic happen.
In just a few clicks you’ve got a fully tracked subject.
From here, you can replace the background or export an Alpha channel that you can bring into your editing software to punch the subject out of your footage and composite however you like.
RunwayML isn’t just good for simple rotoscoping, where the subject is unobstructed in the frame, it can also track and mask much more complex subjects and keep a lock on them even when something crosses in front of them.
The Rise of Skynet
You’ve been hearing since 1984 that robots, computers, and artificial intelligence is destined to rise up and kill all of us weak humanoid creatures (for some reason) but we keep teaching them more and more ways to find us!
But in all seriousness, automation like this can be transformative for the film and video industry. So much pressure is placed on post to deal with the shortcomings of production that knocking out little tasks like these can almost make editing/vfx work feel like a normal job.
Access to this breakthrough does come at a premium though, RunwayML charges $15/month or $144/year to use their software. If you’re working in VFX full-time, it is probably best to just stick with the Rotobrush in After Effects.
Since RunwayML is based in the cloud, you never know when the service will be down at the worst possible time and cost you more trouble than its worth.
The future is always going to be a scary place; the unknown is terrifying. But with features like these on the horizon, life seems like it is going to be smooth sailing from here.
[source: Matthew Paquette]
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