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  • Fri, Jun 17 2011 5:14 PM

    • dvasquez
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    Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    As editors, we are often called on to fix problems created in production.  We all know the "fix it in post" cliché.  That can be harder that the director may realize, or easy to do than we want them to know.  Either way, Media Composer includes some powerful tools that can help.  One of my go-to favorites is the Paint effect.  A real-time, built-in effect, it's really a Swiss Army knife of useful tools that has often saved the shot -- and my butt in the process.


    The Paint effect is an "intraframe effect" meaning it lets you manipulate pixels within each field.  Effects are vector-based, and processed in 8-, 10- or 16-bits, depending on project settings.  It contains no less than 28 different modes to work with, as well as integrated motion tracking on up to 8 points.


    When you apply the Paint effect, you won't see any immediate change.  It's a neutral effect, a blank canvas.  In some ways, it's like an adjustment layer in Photoshop.  All adjustments are made within shapes that you draw over the images.  So, the first thing you need to do is draw a shape, using the various tools and brushes built into the effect. 


    Then you set the Mode, which dictates the changes made to the pixels within the shape.  You can copy and paste shapes to save time.  And, shapes can be layered to control their interaction.

    Some notable modes worth calling out are:

    • Blur -- selectively blur the image to create artificial DOF, mask unwanted elements (e.g. logos), or soften HD images
    • Clone -- pixel-to-pixel remapping, used to conceal unwanted objects
    • Colorize -- recolor selected pixels, can be used to achieve some secondary color correction tasks (think: changing the color of a shirt, prop or grass)
    • Color Match -- match chroma and luma values to another shot or portion of the same shot; great for secondary corrections in mixed lighting situations
    • Erase -- use to remove the effect of another Mode on a given area; useful for protecting certain elements within the image or for punching a whole in a larger effect
    • Mosaic -- create a mosaic pattern to hide elements in the image; e.g. the "witness protection" effect            


    Let's go through three examples from a recent production that I worked on -- a promotional piece for an upscale, private academy in Atlanta. 



    EXAMPLE 1:  Take out the Trash


    Here's the first shot, a locked-down talking head:


    Did you notice the blue bag right away?  Me too.  The Director didn't, neither on set nor when we first went through the footage, but as soon as I pointed it out, she couldn't look at the shot again without being bothered by it.  Thankfully, it was pretty easy to clean up.


    Step 1.  Apply the effect and open the Effect Editor. 

    Step 2.  Used the Polygon tool to draw several shapes near the bag to ensure consistent lighting and textures. 


    (This is made easier if you zoom in.  The default mode is Solid and the color set to bright red.  This works nicely to distinguish small shapes.  If you need to verify a critical edge, use the Outline mode.  )  


    Step 3.  Shift-click on each shape to select them all, then change the mode to Clone.


    Step 4.  Reposition the shapes to cover the bag.

                            (On this one, I actually had to copy/paste shapes 2 and 3 to extend the coverage of the fence poles.)


    That's it, the problem was solved, and it took all of about 2 minutes. 


    Check out the before and after:


    A couple things that made it so easy was that it was a locked shot, nothing obstructed the view or the undesired object -- the bag -- during the entire soundbite.  It's just as easy to clean up a shot with a boom mic that dips into the shot, but on which you don't want to scale it up and recompose.  The real beauty of the Clone mode is that it performs real-time pixel-to-pixel remapping, so it works just as well on moving video as it appears in the stills above.  When coupled with the built-in tracking tool, it's easy to keep both the source and target shapes over moving objects in the image. 


    Let's look at another example, one that utilized the tracking tool.



    Example 2:  Polish the Shot


    Media Composer doesn't have "secondary color correction" per se, but in most cases, you can get the same job done with other tools.  I often use the Paint effect for little touch ups, rotoscoping and secondary correction work. 


    Here's the original shot:



    Notice that not only is the image flat, but the subject has very dark shadows around her eyes.  A primary grade of the image improved the colors and contrast, but revealed other problems.  The background was so bright, that the subject was getting lost in the frame.  The shadows around the eyes were also still problematic, making it look like she hadn't slept in days.  (Whether that was true or not, the client certainly didn't want that to be the image of the students portrayed in the piece.)   I addressed both issues using a few shapes in the same Paint effect, which was layered on top of the Color Correction effect already in place.  (To layer one effect over another, drag the effect onto the clip while holding Alt / Option.)


    First, two rectangles set to Darken mode help separate her from the background.  Notice that they've been rotated slightly and feathered to make the effect less obvious.









    To address the dark circles around the eyes, a simple "mask" was used around the eyes, and set to a Lighten mode.




    This student was very animated while she spoke, not only moving her head around, but also sitting up and leaning forward at times, leaning back at others.  To keep the "mask" in the right place, I simply opened the tracking tool and set tracking points on her eyebrows.  (She didn't raise/lower her eyebrows much, and I found that I was able to get a more consistent track off them than off her eyes themselves.)



    Then simply assign the "mask" to use the tracking points for position data.  By using two points, Media Composer automatically positions and rotates the shape to follow the movements of her head.



    The final result is more polished than the primary grade.  (Likewise, this one took about 4 minutes, start to finish.)




    EXAMPLE 3: Focusing with Blurs


    Similar to the previous examples, there are many times that a shot needs a little help to keep the viewer focused on the important details.  Let's look at a couple ways that you can do that with the Blur mode.  (Media Composer also contains a Blur effect.  This is really just a subset of the Paint effect and works the same way.)


    Here's the before and after shots:


    The shot isn't bad, but it's a bit flat and monochromatic.  To make matters worse, the splash of color is a background element that is as sharp as the speaker.  By adding a blur, the eye is more naturally drawn to the speaker. 


    Here's how this one was built.  A couple simple shapes with feathered edges.  By extending the boundaries of the rectangle beyond




    Notice the controls in the Blur mode -- you have controls for the degree of Horizontal and Vertical blur, as well as the amount to which that blur is mixed with the original image.  Using this together allows you to create very subtle effects.


    For example, the lighting and HD image produced a somewhat unflattering image for the school director.   We don't want the viewer focused on the details of her skin, but rather the message she's conveying.


    To improve the shot, we used the Blur mode of the Paint effect to create an effect similar a Pro-Mist filter.




    This is super easy. 


    Step 1: Cover the entire frame with a single large rectangle.  (Zoom out so you can work outside the frame, as seen above in previous examples.) 

    Step 2: Change the mode to Blur.

    Step 3: Reduce the Horz and Vert values to something very low, about 2-4 each.

    Step 4: Adjust the opacity to control set the amount the blur is mixed with the original image.


    Creating an Effects Template

    This "Pro-Mist Filter" effect is one that's worth saving as an effects template, especially if you're working in an HD project.  To do that, just drag the effect icon to a bin. 


    You can then use the effect from the bin, just like any other effect.  It will even show up in the Effect Palette when the bin is open.



    Learn More!

    Like this tutorial?  There's much more to learn.  Get in-depth training in Avid Effects by taking "MC205 -- Effects Tools and Techniques for Avid Media Composer", available at Avid Authorized Training Partners worldwide.


  • Wed, Jun 22 2011 8:48 PM In reply to

    • innerid
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    • Joined on Wed, Dec 22 2010
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    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    I am not seeing the brushes in my effects editor and I cant find out where they are any nudges in the right direction would be apprciated

  • Sat, Jun 25 2011 9:23 PM In reply to

    • innerid
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    • Joined on Wed, Dec 22 2010
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    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    i am such a idiot I see now what your talking about nevermind.

  • Tue, Jul 5 2011 9:57 AM In reply to

    • knejmann
    • Top 500 Contributor
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    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    Has the pictures been moved or accidentaly deleted? I'm only seeing blank frames and red crosses here :-(

    Media Composer 2018.12.11 - Windows 10 - Dell 8520 - Blackmagic Decklink Studio 4K - Interplay and NEXIS storage - Avid Artist Color. [view my complete system specs]

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  • Wed, Sep 28 2011 5:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect


    Has the pictures been moved or accidentaly deleted? I'm only seeing blank frames and red crosses here :-(

    Thats because the pictures that illustrate these tips are JPGs in CMYK mode, not RGB mode, that is why in internet explorer the pictures show as boxes with red cross in it.

    In chrome or firefox it shows ok...

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  • Mon, Dec 19 2011 6:29 PM In reply to

    • Steve Berry
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    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    I have a question. In example 1 you mentioned you copy/paste shapes 1 and 2. How exactly do you copy/paste just the particular shape? Im sure this is something very easy and its going right over my head.

    27.5 Imac, Quadcore i7 2.8 Ghz, 12 GB RAM [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Dec 19 2011 6:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    Select the shape you've drawn and want to copy then hit CTRL+C (CMD+C on Mac) and CTRL/CMD+V.  

    Kenton VanNatten | Avid Editor (for hire)

    "I am not obsessed... I'm detail-oriented"

  • Sun, Aug 3 2014 4:55 PM In reply to

    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    Hi !


    Great you tutorial.


    I got a issue and I don´t know how to star it to save my project.


    I would like to defocus  a backgound and let the subjetct ok.


    It was an interview and the person is to close from the wall.


    I´m new in MC







  • Mon, Aug 4 2014 1:51 PM In reply to

    • bcastle
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    • Atlanta, GA
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      Moderator: Avid Certified Instructors - Video

    Re: Just a Quick Paint Job - Fixing problematic shots using Media Composer's Paint effect

    IMO, the easiest thing would be to blur the background with one large rectangle over the whole image.  Then, create a second shape over the subject and set its mode to Erase to cut out the blur.  You can keyframe the "cutout" to match the movement of the subject, or just use the built-in tracking tools to follow him/her.


    Hope that helps!


    MacBook Pro 2.66GHz i7, 6GB ram MacOS 10.9.2 / Windows 7 (VMWare Fusion). HP Z820, 16gb ram, Windows 8. Running latest Media Composer software on both... [view my complete system specs]

    Bryan Castle
    ACI Program Manager, Worldwide 


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