Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blurring Logos in After Effects

For the past two years I have been blurring logos for “Company X” (A well known company I won't mention). At first I blurred them using Motion but after Final Cut X came out, they did the big switch to Adobe so I had to figure out the best way to do it in After Effects. I have been blurring for about 5 hours straight today so I figured I would take a break and write about it because my eyes are actually going blurry.

I feel like there is a much easier way of blurring these logos using a different technique or software like DaVinci but as of now I have to do it the long and monotonous way. In case you were itching to know... this is my everyday process:
  • Company X sends me footage using a highly secure transfer software.
  • I download it and bring it into After Effects. 
  • Sometimes they send me an e-mail with notes and time code for each package which I refer to throughout the process. 
  •  I play through the layer of video once and then start at the beginning. 
  • When I find the first logo I need to blur I create an adjustment layer. I set in and out points for that layer/logo. 
  • Then I create a mask covering the logo. 
  • The next step is adding the blur. The blur I use is called “fast blur” and I also add some feathering so the blur better blends with the surrounding area.
  • The intensity of the blur depends on the size and clarity of the logo. 
  •  Now frame by frame I move the mask to follow the logo using key frames.
  • However,  if an important character moves a part of their body partially in front of the blurred mask I have to create a subtraction mask. AKA my WORST nightmare. Not really but it’s just an extra step.
  •        In order to create a subtraction mask I duplicate the original video layer and drag it on top of the blurred layer. I create a mask around the character’s obstructing part in the duplicate video layer. 
  • I follow that object using key frames until it cuts to the next shot or the character stops obstructing the blurred mask.
  •         And then I repeat these steps for the remainder of the package.

          A final blurred shot looks a little like this….. (but with Company X's footage)

           A typical package has 40 adjustment layers instead of 7 but you get the idea. I know I could potentially use motion tracking with this but I found that when you have footage that whips/pans very quickly and the logos aren’t clearly defined, motion tracking takes longer than just doing it by hand. So I hope you enjoyed this extremely boring blog post as much as I did. Now back to blurring I go!

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