Product Review: digital anarchy's Beauty Box Plug-in
Digital photo retouching is something widely used in publications, such as fashion magazines. It’s used to fix different things and improve the overall photo quality (in other words, it’s used to fix any skin imperfections the models may have).
Fixing skin imperfections is not something you can do just on pictures anymore. Enter digital anarchy's Beauty Box - a plug-in for Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro, that allows you to easily fix skin imperfections in any video footage.
Though you can run Beauty Box on top of any of the software applications I mentioned, I will be focusing on the Adobe After Effects version for this review.
Beauty Box is very simple to use. After you apply the effect to your footage, you can click the “Analyze Frame” button and Beauty Box will calculate the best settings for your skin on that particular frame. If the image and lighting conditions remain consistent throughout the shot, you will only need to tweak the plug-in parameters a little to get the desired look.
As you can imagine, the real problem is that the image, framing and lighting conditions for a shot don’t remain consistent through the majority of shots you will ever work on (or at least half of them). That’s no problem for Beauty Box, though, as you only need to click the “Analyze All” button. This will make Beauty Box go through the whole video and find the best settings for each frame of your video.
All the parameters can be keyframed, so you can gradually animate the transition from one group of settings to the next, in case you decide to manually analyze frames based on your own criteria. This saves you from waiting for Beauty Box to analyze the whole video.
Once the frame (or video) is analyzed, you still have a few parameters to control the overall look of your skin. These are used to define how much of the skin imperfections are deleted, as well as the smoothing radius used to remove those imperfections. You should keep in mind that smoothing the skin too much will result in an almost flat result, so these should be used carefully.
Beauty Box uses internal mask data to decide where and how much correction to apply. These masks are created when you use any of the analysis buttons available. You can, however, set up your own masks via standard masking tools inside After Effects, or using the toolset available directly inside Beauty Box.
Sometimes you will need to help Beauty Box define the skin areas correctly, so you will need to create the mask yourself. Beauty Box features 3 different Mask Modes: Foreground, Set, and Off. You can use these to turn on/off the mask setup mode.
Basically, what you do is change the mode to “Set,” and then click somewhere on your actor’s face (for better results, click on an area with an average skin tone, not too bright and not too dark). The initial mask is created after you do this. You can then change the Show Mask mode to “On” so that the mask is visible. If you go back to your Mask Mode and set it to “Foreground,” you can add more shades of skin to your mask by clicking on the unmasked areas.
The mask will display as a grayscale image. The black parts of the image are the parts where Beauty Box has no effect, the white parts are the ones with full effect, and the grayscale parts will show partial effect, depending on how much white there is.
Sometimes, as the mask is created, it will also pick up parts of the background, especially if the skin tones are similar to the background. In most situations that will not be a problem. However, if you do find that to be a problem, remember you can always use the internal After Effects masking tools to limit the Beauty Box smoothing effect.
An example of Beauty Box in action
Beauty Box is an easy to use, yet very effective tool to fix skin imperfections. If you find yourself working with footage where the actors’ skins are not “perfect,” or in the absence of on-the-set makeup, you will find that Beauty Box may just save your day.
The Beauty Box plug-in is available for Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Apple Final Cut Pro.
Price: $199.00 (USD)
For more information on Beauty Box, please visit the digital anarchy website.
Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.
March 15, 2010
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