Do nearly anything with the power of masking

posted in: Tips and tricks | 0

After our short movie screened at the 2013 Pittsburgh 48-Hour Film Project, I was asked by some in the audience how we pulled off a particular shot. That shot involved a female character who, in an unfortunate drunken stupor, failed to look both ways before crossing a street and, as your mother warned you would happen, was struck by a vehicle. Requiring neither elaborate props nor the ultimate sacrifice of our actress, this effect is easy to do by creating “masks.” First, have a look at the shot.

The principle is straightforward and extremely versatile. The process of masking involves creating a cut-out of one section of video which you can then place on top of another. By mixing the two separate video clips together, you can achieve things that would be too difficult, costly, or dangerous in reality. Take a look at what I mean.

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First, we record the base shot. In this case, a vehicle driving by.

Then, we separately record the shot to be added in. In this case, it’s our actress stumbling into the middle of the street.

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Notice the absence of a large sport-utility vehicle.

By creating a mask around the actress, we can isolate and extract her from the video. Then, we can paste only the parts we want “on top” of the base video, to create a new scene.

masking, video production, pittsburgh, special effects
Together, things are beginning to look much more perilous.

And now we’ve created the basic scene. Without masking, this would have been significantly more complicated or dangerous to do. From there, it’s important to make little adjustments to help sell the shot to the viewer. For example, because our actress wasn’t actually thrown across the street in reality, we have to stretch, contort, and manipulate the clip of the actress to finish the effect.

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Though it might look rough around the edges now, it’s almost impossible to notice in motion. The movement makes the illusion.

This is one of the most versatile methods in existence, and it can be used to achieve nearly anything you can imagine. With it, we’ve created an army of clones, and made a head “pop” right off. Or you can transport your subject to any place in the universe. Anything is possible with video. Contact us to find out how we can use this method, and many others, to help you achieve your creative goals.