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  • Tracking Paint Strokes with Position, Rotation & Scale

  • Mike Sevigny

    January 31, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve found a number of threads & tutorials about tracking the paint tool in After Effects but I haven’t found anything concrete for tracking position, rotation & scale.

    A popular solution is to pick-whip your ‘clone position‘ to the tracker’s ‘position‘ but that doesn’t take into account any offset. Another popular method is to ‘Lock Source Time‘ in the ‘Paint‘ panel but that doesn’t maintain the original grain structure & lighting conditions.

    In an effort to solve this I wrote the following expressions. I’m not an expert with expressions but I thought I would share what I came up with so far..

    How to use the Expressions:
    Paste the expression in both ‘Stroke Options > Clone Position‘ and ‘Transform > Position‘ of your paint stroke.

    You MUST edit the following 2 variables at the top of the code to customize it to your paint stroke:
    1) trackLayer: The name of layer that contains your tracking data. By default it’s ‘Null 1’.
    2) paintFrameNum: The frame number where the paint stroke was applied (calculate as if the first frame of your comp is 0).

    Track: Position
    // user inputs
    trackLayer = "Null 1";
    paintFrameNum = 0;

    // position variables
    livePosition = thisComp.layer(trackLayer).transform.position;
    startPosition = livePosition.valueAtTime(paintFrameNum*thisComp.frameDuration)

    // calculate position difference
    livePosDiff = livePosition-startPosition;

    // set value
    value + livePosDiff

    Track: Position & Rotation
    NOTE: The actual brush doesn’t rotate
    // user inputs
    trackLayer = "Null 1";
    paintFrameNum = 0;

    // tracker position variables
    liveTrack = thisComp.layer(trackLayer).transform.position;
    startTrack = thisComp.layer(trackLayer).transform.position.valueAtTime(paintFrameNum*thisComp.frameDuration);

    // tracker rotation variables
    liveRotate = thisComp.layer(trackLayer).transform.rotation;
    startRotate = thisComp.layer(trackLayer).transform.rotation.valueAtTime(paintFrameNum*thisComp.frameDuration);

    // calculate distance between paint stroke & tracker start position
    startDistance = length(value , startTrack);

    // calculate live rotation difference
    liveRotDiff = liveRotate - startRotate;

    // calculate angle between Tracker start position & clone position
    startAngle = Math.atan2(value[1] - startTrack[1], value[0] - startTrack[0]) * 180/3.14159265;

    // set value
    radius = startDistance;
    angle = startAngle + liveRotDiff;
    x = radius*Math.cos(degreesToRadians(angle));
    y = radius*Math.sin(degreesToRadians(angle));
    centre = liveTrack;
    add(centre,[x,y])

    Track: Position, Rotation & Scale
    I haven’t found a solution to accurately apply a track to the position, rotation & scale of a paint stroke. I can factor in the position change relative to the scale of the track but I can’t scale the brush size (only the diameter).

    I’ve also considered stabilizing the source within its parameters (at its largest scale) and tracking it back in using the clone but there is no parameter for ‘source scale’.

    Ideally, in the future we’ll be able to animate/expression the ‘brush size‘ & ‘brush rotation‘ to solve this.

    Multiple Paint Strokes:
    To apply the expressions across multiple paint strokes you can ‘Copy Expression Only’ on both the ‘Clone Position‘ & ‘Position‘ in your paint stroke and paste it on all of your paint strokes at once. Remember that you may have to change the ‘paintFrameNum‘ & ‘trackLayer‘ variables.

    Questions:
    Has anyone figured out a solution for the scale?
    Can the code above be simplified/improved?
    How do you track your paint?

    Mike Sevigny
    https://www.torusfx.com

  • Michael Szalapski

    February 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Have you looked at Paint & Stick?

    – The Great Szalam
    (The ‘Great’ stands for ‘Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble’)

    No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

  • Mike Sevigny

    February 3, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    I have but that’s more for artistic painting. The application I was thinking of was more to use with the clone tool on live action footage. I do a lot of cleanup, almost every job has some cleanup to be done. I’m used to exporting a plate, tracking it in, matching color over time and adding noise/grain It has worked well for me.

    However, recently I was asked to remove logos and cleanup some old stock footage at 640×480 (up-rez’d to HD) and I had a lot of trouble with the grain and digital distortion (it was captured from DVD). Any plate I pulled from the footage was unusable because it had ‘compression’ elements baked into the image. In the end the plate had to be stabilized, painted & tracked back into the shot which still caused issues with scale/quality.

    That solution worked fine but I thought it could have worked better and been a bit easier. I might be wrong and this will cause the same headaches.. If anyone succeeds at it, please post. It would be nice to have this option available when I’m faced with different types of shots.

    Thanks for the reply, Michael.

    Mike Sevigny

  • Michael Szalapski

    February 3, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    I see what you’re saying. AE needs to redo it’s paint engine!
    Maybe they can work on that after they finish the new renderer, updated 3d space, and improving I/O! 🙂

    Depending on what you’re doing, have you looked into using the remove module in the full version of Moccha?

    – The Great Szalam
    (The ‘Great’ stands for ‘Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble’)

    No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

  • Mike Sevigny

    February 4, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Great suggestion about Moccha. I always put off learning more about it, I’ll be checking out the Remove Module next.

    Thanks Michael

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