Using Digital Anarchy's Beauty Box

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

You know the drill. The client didn’t have the money for makeup when they were shooting the video, then is horrified to discover in post that their star/kid/sweetie has a humongous zit that spoils all the close-ups of the video they dumped in your lap to edit.

In the past, I’ve mentioned how you can use Sheffield Softworks Electronic Makeup Artist to try to fix these problems.

Recently, Digital Anarchy released a new package called Beauty Box that simplifies the work and improves the results. I was talking with Jim Tierney, the CEO of Digital Anarchy, about this recently and he said that the challenge is to smooth the skin (which basically means to blur it) without blurring details like hair or eyes.

In a bit more technical terms, they are using skin recognition technology to create a traveling matte which selectively blurs the skin, but nothing else, by the amount you specify.

I told Jim that I was very interested in showing this plug-in on my UK tour, so he sent me a copy. Installation was easy and using it is straight-forward.

Note: Whenever you install new plug-gins you want to be sure Final Cut Pro is not running. This is because FCP only looks for new plug-ins when it starts up.

After installation, I started Final Cut and edited a clip to the Timeline.

Here’ a detail of our model’s face. When this was shot, we didn’t use any make-up, just a matte gel to decrease light reflections. Notice the texture in her skin, and a few freckles scattered about. She definitely doesn’t look bad, but we can improve this.

I selected the clip and applied the Beauty Box filter (Effects > Video Filters > Digital Anarchy > Beauty Box), as you would apply any filter to a clip.

The default settings for the filter are pretty good, they tend to minimize excess edge detail that lower-end cameras put into the image and soften skin tones a bit in general. However, in this case, I wanted to give her skin more of a “made-up model” look.

To do this, I scrolled down in the filter dialog to where it says “Dark Color.” This represents the darker portion of skin color that you want to soften, just as “Light Color” represents the lighter portion of skin. What you are doing, essentially, is setting the parameters of what the filter uses as the range of skin colors to soften.

Using the eyedropper, I clicked one of the darker freckles above her left eye.

Moving up, I increased the Smoothing Amount from its default of 25 to 50. This increased overall softening. Then, I increased the Smoothing Radius to 15. This increased the blending between colors to minimize color changes in the face.

Note: There are more controls in the filter if you feel the need to tweak, but most of the time you won’t need to.

The nice thing about this filter is that once you have it set, it will track the movements of the face, so that as long as your lighting remains relatively constant, you won’t need to tweak the filter for each frame of the shot.

Here’s a comparison of the differences between the filter off (left) and on (right). I was very impressed at both the results I was able to achieve and the speed with which I got there.

Very cool.


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