After editing a crowd scene, you've discovered there's one man
in the shot who didn't sign an image release. To avoid possible
legal trouble, you decide to solve the problem by blurring his face -
the classic "witness protection" effect. However, the shot
is shaky because your budget didn't include a tripod, nor any motion
tracking software. So, here's how to use Final Cut Pro HD to track
the man's face and blur it out, without having to use any third-party
products, and without having to set a single keyframe.
1. Edit the crowd clip into the V1 track of a
sequence. For the purposes of this tutorial, I will call this
sequence "crowd with matte nest."
2. To make the oval that will isolate the man's face,
create a title with a bullet point (Option-8). Its color is not
important. Superimpose the title onto the V2 track above the
crowd segment, and adjust the title's Size and Origin to
position the bullet over the man's face.
Clip courtesy of Digital Juice, Inc.
3. To soften the edges of the oval, apply a Gaussian Blur onto
the title, and set its Radius to something like 20.
4. Modify the frame size of this sequence by choosing Sequence
> Settings (Command-zero), set its Aspect Ratio to Custom, and its
height to 1000 pixels.
5. Double-click the crowd segment to load its settings into the
Viewer. Here, we will need to flip over the image and move it to
one side of the frame. If you want to be exact, set Rotation to
180 and Center to (0, 260) so that the image is upside-down and at the
bottom of the frame.
6. Double-click the title segment to load its settings into the
Viewer. Here, we will move the title to the opposite side of the
frame. Positioning it higher so that its Center is around (0,
-370) should work.
7. Create a new sequence. For the purposes of this
tutorial, I will call this sequence "crowd tracking
parent." Open this new sequence.
8. From the Browser window, drag the original crowd with matte
nest into the V2 track of the crowd tracking parent.
9. Option-double-click the nest in the timeline to load its
settings into the Viewer. Make sure its Scale is set to
10. With the Canvas set to Image+Wireframe, Shift-drag the image
upward so that you can see the man's upside-down
11. Hit the Home key to move the playhead to the beginning of the sequence.
12. Apply Video Filters > Video > Image Stabilizer.
In the Filters tab, adjust the Image Stabilizer's Center and
Scan Range around a sharp, high contrast, unobscured spot on the
man's face, such as his nose.
13. With the Canvas set to Image+Wireframe, Shift-drag the image
downward to move the man off the screen and reveal only the blurry
dot. If you want to be exact, switch to the nest's
Motion tab, and set its Center to (0, 260). Since the dot is
nested with the shaky video, the Image Stabilizer will make it move in
the same way as the man's face.
14. Edit the original crowd clip into the V1 and V3 tracks so
that the nest is sandwiched between them in the timeline. Delete
any duplicate audio segments, if any.
15. Apply a Gaussian Blur onto the V3 segment, and set its Radius to something like 15.
16. Right-click or Control-click the V3 segment, and choose
Composite Mode > Travel Matte Alpha. You may have
to render before Final Cut Pro will show the blurry dot.
Christopher Phrommayon is an Avid- and Apple-certified
instructor whose independent audio and video productions have been seen
internationally. Chris has contributed to publications such as
"Final Cut Pro on the Spot" and "Videography" Magazine, and is
co-author of "Avid Xpress Pro and DV on the Spot." Recent
speaking engagements include the Avid Government Training Symposium,
the Final Cut Pro to the Max tour, the DigitalMediaDC Conference, and
the NAB Post-Production World Conference.
Chris teaches Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio
Pro, Shake, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, and
Boris Red for Future Media Concepts in Boston.
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