Friday, March 6, 2015

Photoshop: Rotoscope Basic Setup

Goal: To outline the most basic steps of setting up a rotoscope animation in Photoshop. 

01. Create a new document in Photoshop. Since Photoshop is not primarily a video editing software I recommend using either the HDTV 1280 x 720 option or the smaller NTSC option in the Film & Video Preset drop down list.

02. Place or drag and drop your video into Photoshop. The Film and Video preset may show you guides like the ones above. To turn them off hit "CMND ;" You may have to slightly scale your video up in size or shrink it a bit to fit the document area. Then click the "Create Video Timeline" button. Additional video layers can be added at anytime.

03. If you did not see a timeline panel on the last step make sure to click Window > Timeline. Also note the other little highlight on this image (the drop down menu in the Timeline panel). It will be used in the next step.

04. Click the drop down menu in the Timeline panel (top right of panel - partially covered here). You want to make sure you have "Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys" turned on as well as "Loop Playback". This is where the onion skin settings are as well if you ever need to do a non rotoscope frame by frame animation. Then click "Set Timeline Frame Rate". Reduce to 10 frames per second.

05. Create a new blank video layer by clicking Layer > Video Layers > New Blank Video Layers. Remember: video layers can be cropped or moved left or right in the Timeline panel by dragging them. 

06. If your video is a little dark you can use an adjustment layer as I am here to brighten it up a bit but this is optional. Begin drawing on your blank rotoscope layer using the brush tool. Note: make sure you are not drawing on your film layer and remember the brush sizes can be changed quickly with the "[" and the "]" keys. Drawing with a tablet instead of a mouse will make the tracing go much more quickly.

07. Add a new blank regular Photoshop layer above your video and fill it with a solid color (here I used white). This allows you to see how your tracing is coming along and to still here the sound from your video. If you do not here sound press the audio icon in the Timeline panel (top left). Remember you can reduce the work area to loop smaller portions of your video by dragging the end sliders located at the top of the animation timeline.

08. While you are working on your video you should have a folder that contains your video file and the PSD. If your video file and PSD become separated you will get an error. I also recommend working with this folder from your desktop (not directly from your USB or you may crash the program or experience other significant issues). 

08. If you are ready to export from photoshop you can click File > Export > Render Video and use the default MP4 settings. 

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